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History and lineage of Shaolin Gaocan Mun Nam Pai Chuan. Precepts & Tenets of the System.
Structure of our classes. King's College London NPC.

Nam Pai Chuan is one of the largest and best-respected Chinese martial art styles practiced in the UK, encompassing what are typically thought of as northern and southern Shaolin Kung Fu styles. The art was first brought to the UK by Sigung (Grandmaster) Lai in 1979. Prior to this, Sigung Lai trained intensively -- twice each day, seven days a week -- for 13 years under the teachings of Daisigung (Great Grandmaster) Quek in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Daisigung Quek's teacher, in turn, was Chosi (Ancestor Master) Gao Can.
When Sigung Lai decided to relocate to Europe at the end of the 1970s, he realised that the regime he’d been fortunate (and dedicated) enough to follow in Asia wouldn’t necessarily transfer to Europe. Sigung Lai had to decide between teaching in a manner that would exclude most people in modern society, or to systematise the teaching of kung fu in such a way that it would be accessible and relevant in modern European society. He sought and received his Master’s blessing to teach Shaolin Gaocan Mun Nam Pai Chuan in a manner that would be accessible to everyone.

To enable this Sigung Lai included some of the teaching methods he had experienced whilst exploring other organised martial art styles prior to emigrating to England.

Daisigung Quek with Sigung Lai

These other styles included taekwondo, taught by Master Leow Cheng Koon, who was the chief instructor of the Malaysian Taekwondo Federation. Master Leow Cheng Koon's brand of martial arts transcended taekwondo, incorporated other traditional arts he had learnt including hapkido and hwarangdo.

Sigung Lai found there was much to be gained by using some of the modern training methods in a manner that unlocked the traditions of Chinese martial arts for a wider student base. In this way Sigung Lai created the first modern syllabus and teaching style to emerge from the Shaolin Gao Can martial arts tradition. This style of practicing Chinese kung fu and Chi gung, together with modern fitness training and self-defence techniques, is the one we follow to this day; with male and female students of all shapes, sizes, nationalities and motivations throughout the UK, in Europe, and even as far afield as Japan, New Zealand and Canada.
Those of us who practice Nam Pai Chuan are proof that Sigung Lai has succeeded in making the traditional teachings of our Chinese kung fu predecessors available to a wide cross-section of the public, in an accessible and relevant way.


Our art encompasses a wide array of disciplines typical of the most traditional Chinese martial arts styles such as blocking, punching, kicking, and evasive footwork, seizing and joint locking, nerve point attacks, classical form sequences, use of weapons and Chi gung breathing exercises.

Classes are typically around 2 hours long, and are usually of mixed ability and ages. There is as much chance of you training with a senior grade, including black belts, as with a beginner. The senior grade, having a better understanding and control, and is there to help the student; not to show off what they can do. There is also generally a good ratio of female to male students. We believe this is because our style does not depend on explicit muscle strength.

Chosi Gao Can with Daisigung Quek

Chi gung breathing exercises and/or a vigorous aerobic warm-up, which builds fitness, body condition, and flexibility. These prepare the body for the more technical material to follow (warm stretched muscles are less likely to get injured than cold ones).

Pad-work: we practice the basic strikes and kicks of the style, which will include striking focus mitts. We believe it is important to actually become accustomed to feeling what it is like to make contact.

Paired combination work, which you would recognise as being quite "self-defence"-like. We teach specific attacks and counter defences, building them in complexity, before offering you and your training partner more freedom in the way you move, the timing, etc.

Forms (these are known as katas in other martial arts), are prearranged sequences of movements, and form the basis of most traditional martial arts. These forms constitute the "dictionary" of our style, and encode all the techniques we use, in flowing sequences performed alone (or even in pairs at more advanced levels). These sequences allow students to develop the "art" in martial art.
Sparring at beginner level this will simply involve reacting to fixed attacks in a specified way, and will be done under very safe and controlled circumstances. As you acquire more techniques and demonstrate you can use them safely, you will progress to light free sparring then onto a more advanced level sparring and combat.
Weapons are an important part of the training of more senior students, though juniors will have the opportunity to practice basic weapon use too. We teach 18 traditional weapons which include: staff, broadsword, spear, halberd and dagger.
We trust this gives you a flavour of what takes place in our classes. In summary, we are a traditional kung fu style from which self-defence and sparring ability evolve. This approach means there's always something more to learn, to perfect, or to internalise in some other way. We believe this gives a very absorbing and deep art that one can spend decades appreciating, even though there are quick self-defence gains to be had in the first few months!


Chosi, Ancestor Master,
Gao Can
The best documented origins of our system can be traced back to the turn of the 20th century with Chosi Gao Can, who was the first to loosen the secrecy of Shaolin kung fu to those outside of the Buddhist temples. During his life, Chosi Gao Can was respected by countless individuals for his compassion in Buddhism, medicine, martial arts and spirituality.

A website dedicated to the life and teachings of Chosi Gao Can can be found here.

Daisigung, Great Grandmaster,

Quek Heng Choon
While Chosi Gao Can had many students, Daisigung Quek is considered to be the most important and influential of them all, establishing and instructing over half a dozen martial arts associations across Malaysia, China and Singapore. Daisigung Quek adopted the name Gao Can Mun for his style of martial art in honour of his own master.

To find out more about Daisigun Quek's life and teachings, follow this link.

Sigung, Grand Master,

Lai Khee Choong
Sigung Lai began his martial art studies at the early age of 12 with training in a variety of martial art styles, but eventually deciding to focus on Shaolin Kung Fu under the teachings of Daisigung Quek in Malaysia. In 1979, Sigung Lai decided to move to the United Kingdom, and with the the blessing of Daisigung Quek, helped to establishing this system, Shaolin Nam Pai Chuan. In 2009, Sigung Lai was named the single and true successor of Shaolin Gao Can Mun Nam Pai Chuan by Daisigung Quek.


Steve Leppard
Sifu Leppard is among the first of Sigung Lai's students that are still actively training. Sifu Leppard began his martial arts training at the age of 11, has been training in Shaolin Nam Pai Chuan since 1990, and currently holds a sixth degree black belt with specialisations in power forms (cheet-chieh, lao-han) and eagle claw technique.

King's College London NPC

Sifu Leppard, a King's Mathematics PhD, established King's College London Nam Pai Chuan in 1992 when he started his PhD. Since then many hundreds of students have trained under his guidance.

King's College London NPC is located in the London Bridge area, and welcomes King's College students and non-students alike.

This club has a good number of regularly attending students of both sexes, encompassing all grade levels, with a generous diversity of age, height, ethnicity and background.

Daisigung Quek with Sifu Leppard