"Self-cultivation of the nature is merit, Self-cultivation of the body is virtue."
-Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, Chapter 3


Shaolin Chain Boxing (Chin.: Shàolín Liánhuánquán 少林连环拳)

Shaolin Chain Boxing, herein referred to as Lianhuanquan, is a basic traditional boxing set of Shaolin Wugong. As with Xiaohongquan, it is often one of the very first sets to be studied by the novice Shaolin practitioner. On a fundamental level, as the name suggests, it is a set to teach students how to link postures and segments together into a routine. However, within its simplicity is hidden a very sophisticated method of attack and defense.


During the Qing Dynasty (Chin.: Qíngdài 清代 1644-1911) there lived the famous monk Shi Zhanju (Chin.: Shì Zhànjǔ 释湛举). Venerable Zhanju entered the Shaolin Monastery in the year 1790 and became a 26th generation master under Ven. Shi Haican (Chin.: Shì Hǎicān 释海参). In the monastery he became both a notable medical monk (Chin.: yīsēng 医僧) as well as a Wugong master. Having studied Wugong under the 24th generation monks Shi Rujing and Shi Ruliang (Chin.: Shì Rújìng 释如净 | Shì Rúliàng 释如亮), Ven. Zhanju quickly became proficient in Shaolin boxing methods, Qinna, and Qigong, specializing in Shaolin Six-Round Boxing (Chin.: Liùhéquán 六合拳). The depth of his knowledge, experience and skill level allowed him to later become the drill master of the monastery's regiment of monk soldiers (Chin.: sēngbīng 僧兵). Today he can be seen depicted in the Shaolin murals along with Ven. Shi Zhanluo (Chin.: Shì Zhànluò 释湛洛 1777-1864) instructing the monks in weapon and empty-hand combat skills.

Ven. Zhanju went on to make great contributions to the development of Shaolin Wugong during his generation. His remaining works include: Shaolin Six-Round Boxing Manual (Chin.: Shàolín Liùhé Quánpǔ 少林六合拳), Shaolin Seventy-two Arts (Chin.: Shàolín Qīshíèr Yì 少林七十二), and Shaolin Flood Boxing Sparring Methods (Chin.: Shàolín Hóngquán Duìzhāofǎ 少林洪拳对招法).

He modified and expanded upon a number of preexisting Shaolin boxing sets (Chin.: tàolù 套路) including Shaolin Cannon Boxing (Chin.: Pàoquán 炮拳) and the ancient internal form of Soft Boxing (Chin.: Róuquán 柔拳).

He was also the creator of several new boxing sets including Shaolin Wind-Chasing Palm (Chin.: Zhuīfēngzhǎng 风掌) and the more well-known sets of Facing the Sun Boxing (Chin.: Cháoyángquán 朝阳拳) and its later expansion Bright Sun Boxing (Chin.: Zhāoyángquán 昭阳拳).

In addition, Ven. Zhanju was also the creator of the boxing set very well-known and widespread today which is the focus of this article, Shaolin Lianhuanquan. He created the set based on the Shaolin subsystems of Arhat Boxing (Chin.: Luóhànquán 罗汉拳), Full-arm Boxing (Chin.: Tōngbìquán 通臂拳), and Small Plum-blossom Boxing (Chin.: Xiǎoméihuāquán 小梅花拳). Taking the essence of these three subsystems and combining it with his own combat experience, the eighteen posture set of Shaolin Lianhuanquan was developed.


In Chinese, Lian-huan literally means 'link-rings', and is combined to form the noun 'chain' or adjective or adverb 'continuous/continually'. Quan is the noun for 'fist', but in style names refers to a type of 'boxing'. Hence, Lianhuanquan means Chain Boxing which also refers to a relentless pursuit of the opponent with a continuous chain of attacks. There is this saying associated with the set:


Shénzhāo jué bǎ liánhuán dǎ, yīqìhēchéng shénguǐ pà.

“The miraculous movements stun with a flurry of strikes,

All in one breath it scares the devils away.”

Although brief, the 18 postures of Lianhuanquan contain a variety of striking, kicking, joint-locking, and grappling/throwing applications (Chin.: dǎ, tī, ná, shuāi 打踢拿摔). The entire body from head-to-toe is incorporated in attack and defense with many flexible transformations. Hand shapes (Chin.: shǒuxíng 手形) alone include two fist forms, five palm forms, rooster claw, and crane techniques.

18 Postures

Shaolin Lianhuanquan is often practiced in only 17 postures, leaving out the final posture Five Flowers Sitting on the Mountain (Chin.: wǔ huā zuò shān 五花坐山). This posture may have been added to the set to bring it to 18 movements, a number of significance in Shaolin Chan with reference to the 18th vow of Amituofo. This posture also has great significance in Shaolin Culture (Chin.: Shàolín Wénhuà 少林文化) and is often tacked onto the end of boxing sets as a signature pose. Ven. Zhanju even uniquely used it as an opening to his set Zhaoyangquan (Bright Sun Boxing) previously mentioned.

The numerous applications of the single posture 'wu hua zuo shan' and the posture's significance in Shaolin Wugong culture is an entire topic of its own deserving of a separate article.

Mnemonic (Chin.: gējué ):



Shǒu zú bìngyòng liánhuán dǎ, Qióngzhuī bàokè rú jiàn fā,

Yīqìhēchéng shíbā shì, Shǒu zú tóu zhǒu quán shēn bǎ.

"Hands and feet combine to erupt with continuous strikes,

Relentlessly pursuing the brutal invaders like an arrow shot.

The eighteen postures are completed all in one breath,

Masterfully incorporating the hands, feet, head, elbow, and entire body."


Shàolín Liánhuánquán

Shaolin Chain Boxing

(4 Sections - 18 postures - 24 movements)

第一段 dìyī duàn - first section

1. Fist charging the heart (Chin.: chōngxīnquán 沖心拳)

2. Fist aiming at the heart (Chin.: dīngxīnquán 盯心拳)

3. Path-opening Cannon (Chin.: kāilùpào 开路炮)

4. Cannon on horseback (Chin.: mǎshàngpào 马上炮)

5. Hidden cannon (Chin.: wòdǐpào 卧底炮)

6. Beat the tiger and lean on the mountain (Chin.: dǎ hǔ kào shān 打虎靠山)

第二段 dìèr duàn - second section

7. Direct palm (Chin.: yíngmiànzhǎng 迎面掌)

8. Wild Goose lands on the river bank (Chin.: yàn luò hétān 雁落河)

9. Attack the monsters at front and back (Chin.: qiánhòu dǎo yāo 前後搗妖)

10. Diagonal flying kick (Chin.: xiéfēijiǎo 飞脚)

11. Mt. Song cannon (Chin.: Sōngshānpào 嵩山炮)

第三段 dìsān duàn - third section

12. (3 movements) - Gate-flashing cannon fist (Chin.: shǎn mén pào quán 闪门炮拳)

13. (3 movements) - Double cannons blast the mountain over (Chin.: shuāng pào hōng shān dǎo 双炮轰山倒)

第四段 dìsì duàn - fourth section

14. Sound the gong and open the path (Chin.: míng luó kāi lù 鸣锣开路)

15. Elbow charging the heart (Chin.: chōngxīnzhǒu 沖心肘)

16. Insert the incense and split Mt. Hua (Chin.: chén xiāng pī Huàshān 沉香劈华山)

17. Iron fist supporting Mt. Tai (Chin.: tiěquán jià Tàishān 铁拳架泰山)

18. Five flowers sitting on the mountain (Chin.: wǔ huā zuò shān 五花坐山)

-少林禅城 Shaolin Chan City

Copyright © 2012 Shaolin Chan City, LLC. All rights reserved.


Sai Xiao Long said...

French articles about shaolin:

Soon an article on Wu Xing Quan!


SCC said...


Good work! Thanks for sharing.

I notice on your Lianhuanquan you include the final posture 五花坐山, called 打虎靠山, but only have 17 postures, and say "17 postures" in the poem.

It's because you are missing the 前後搗妖 posture (gongbu tuizhang) that follows 雁落河滩. I'm sure you have this posture in your set. Otherwise it is practically impossible to do the cross slap kick from pubu! If you add this posture name then you will have all 18 postures.

I have also seen the poem edited to say "19 postures" in the Shaolin Encyclopedia, but this counts the preparation posture 预备式 (yubeishi) as posture 1 which is not technically part of the set.

Also, for the first posture and the elbow at the end you use the character 衡 (heng), as in 衡心拳. I think this may be a misreading of the traditional character 衝 (chong), depending on your sources.

The center is different. This is a traditional variant of 冲/沖, as used in the common 沖拳 (chongquan) technique, which means 'rushing' or 'charging'.

Sai Xiao Long said...

Thank you for your answer!
Frankly, I took the text of the Encyclopedia of Shaolin Shi De Qian. My wife (who is Chinese) helped me to translate.
Regarding the character 衡 (heng), after verification, it is used but this character may be that the author made ​​a mistake (a common occurrence in the texts of wushu;))

NB: Sorry for my poor english (i am french! :p )

Saleh Bitar said...

Sholin Kung Fu is for me the mother of the chinese Martial Arts, not only that but it is even a ground base for many other Martial Arts, like Boxing, Kickboxin, Mua Thai, and many others. Some thing i find it very interesting in the relation between Schaolin and other Kung Fu Styles, for example the Wing Chu Kung Fu. I am practicing Kung Fu since I was 7 years old, I was lucky to have 2 chinese children as friends in my childhood, while I was living in my country Egypt and not in China, now I am very good Wing chun Kung Fu practicer, I have recently opened a shool in Switzerland. The similarities are enorm in both Shaolin and Wing Chun,but rather in the in the sport it self and not in Tchnik. I like rather to widen that to see more similaritis, since I know that Wing chun Kung Fu is adopted from the Sholin Mönchs in their Temples, and that the "Dummy men" were sarrounding their Temples to protct it from invading enimies, but what are the real reasons for that change or for the birth of the Wing Chun Kung Fu, around 350 years ago, also it is interesting to look at the results of this developement. At the end the differences in both styles became bigger, because Wing chun Kung Fu concentrated on the Technik for example "Block and Attack", so you can even win again every body if you can block him and then attack him with a sudden Reflex, meanwhil Shaolin Kung Fu went toher way around direction power and concentraion ans mor other features. By the way I am a lover for Shaolin Kung Fu, I started to practice it since around 4 years, it is fatastic to pratice it and you notice then that Sholin Kung fu needs mor Efficiancy, achievement and mor power.