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Purpose and Requirements. Syllabus. Grading Information.

In Shaolin Gaocan Mun Nam Pai Chuan, students are distinguished as carrying a black belt (of a degree), or a coloured belt. All students start off as a white belt, with four coloured belts, two grades for each colour of yellow, green, blue and brown, before reaching the first degree of black belt.

Light Controlled Sparring

The purpose of coloured belts is to create a seniority gradient throughout the students to help facilitate the passing of knowledge of the art from a senior to a junior. This also encourages a student who wishes to progress their knowledge in the art by providing incremental goals that he or she can achieve within a relatively short period of time.

In order for a student to pass from their current colour grade into a higher one, that student must demonstrate that he or she understand enough of the art by grading. This is a system-wide event that is judged by the system's senior instructors.




We typically demand that a student has attended at least 20 classes between successive system gradings to be eligible for consideration to grade.

While much of the grading syllabus material is covered during class, students must take some responsibility for their own learning and request assistance from a senior student (not necessarily a black belt) in the weeks before the next grading to ensure that they know their syllabus.

The King’s senior black belts will decide who is permitted to grade, most usually by conducting a mock grading. Do NOT approach Sifu; as a member of the examining board it is not appropriate for him to prejudge potential grading results. Mock gradings should be approached with the same seriousness and intent as the system gradings; passing the mock grading provides the rite of passage to grade in front of the wider Shaolin Nam Pai Chuan membership.



Gradings are usually structured into five components:

Handwork. The candidates perform a variety of single and comibination strikes and blocks with the hand with the emphasis on accuracy, precision and stance. The basic punch, shoulder punch and upright punch are the three simplest handwork techniques in the system.


Legwork. While strikes with the hand are fast, they are also relatively short range. Kicks are quite the opposite where a heavier attack can be made at the cost of speed and energy. The front kick, side kick and turning kick are the three basic legwork techniques in the system.


Paired work. The right combination of hand work, leg work and evasion can quickly turn an undesirable situation into a more favourable outcome. This principle is demonstrated in these pre-arranged techniques, performed with a partner -- with one taking the role of the attacker while the other the defender.


Forms. These pre-arranged sequences encode all the techniques used in our system with flowing transitions. The student must not only demonstrate that they know the individual moves of the form, but that they can also perform it with fluidity, spirit and good centre throughout.


Sparring. In order to demonstrate that the student can practically apply the techniques learned in the art, colour belts above yellow are required to display small demonstrations of sparring with their peers. To minimize the possibility of injuries, all students are required to be fully protected and use limited power in any strike. This removes the emphasis from force and power and instead puts it on accuracy, precision and good technique.


Breaking. Those privileged enough to be examined as a potential black belt are required to demonstrate their honed skills in the art by breaking pieces of wood using techniques of their choice as taught in the Shaolin Nam Pai Chuan system.


The syllabus of our system can be found below. However, please note that the belt you're wearing not only indicates that you understand all the techniques required to pass the grade, but also all those required to pass previous grades. Therefore, you may be asked by a judge to perform anything on the syllabus from a previous grade in addition to those from your current grade.


Grading Information

London gradings take place every March, June, September and December, with senior gradings to black belt degrees typically taking place in July. For this year, the upcoming dates, times and host centres are:

Date Time Venue Type 
12 March 20179AMChiswickRegular 
11 June 20179 AM Chiswick Regular 
8 July 20179 AM  Chiswick Senior
10 September 20179 AM Chiswick Regular

Those who are grading are required to wear their full uniform (tunic, pants and belt). For those who are sparring, additional protective gear is required, including a gum shield, head guard, shin and instep padding, box (for male students) and chest protector (for female students). Light body-armour is freely available to use at the training centre.


Attendance at gradings by all senior students (blue belt and above) is mandatory and students should be in full uniform in order to assist with the grading.