WHAT IS NORTHERN SHOU SHU?
Shou Shu is a reaction fighting and application kung fu art. The source of this art is comprised of several individual fighting animal styles: Bear, Tiger (including other cat styles), Mongoose, White Crane (along with some other bird styles), Praying Mantis, Cobra (snake styles), and Dragon. While each of these styles are taught and developed individually within Shou Shu, it is the endless combinations of these seven animal styles which truly gives Shou Shu its strength and adaptability. In fact, it is this combination of styles which allows the art to be called Shou Shu (Fighting Way of the Beast, Beast Art, or Beast Knowledge).
LINEAGE OF NORTHERN SHOU SHU
The lineage of Northern Shou Shu is traced confidently to Da Shifu Lu Chin, the teacher of Sijo Da Shifu Albert F. Moore Sr. Sijo Da Shifu Al Moore passed away in 2002, however his teachings live on in his students. Today, one of Sijo’s principle students, Da Shifu Jim Clark, is the only remaining Da Shifu teaching Northern Shou Shu as it was taught by Sijo Da Shifu Moore.
In 1972, Jim Clark walked into a martial arts school in Modesto, California – a move that would forever change his life. Sijo Da Shifu Albert Moore Sr. took Jim Clark in as his protégé and by 1974 he had earned his black belt.
This intense training continued under Sijo Da Shifu Sr. until 2002, when Jim Clark was awarded his eighth degree black belt. Sijo taught him the art of Shou Shu, the philosophy of teaching, and how to preserve the seven animals in a system of fighting which continues today. The purity of the art of Northern Shou Shu is now maintained under Da Shifu Jim Clark and the Red Dragon Federation.
NORTHERN SHOU SHU SCHOOLS
Northern Shou Shu schools are located throughout the United States. There are currently schools in California, Arizona, Arkansas, Oregon, South Carolina, and Texas. Each school is under the direct supervision of Da Shifu Clark and the head Shun Shifu or Shigong. There are also numerous affiliated “cells” of Shou Shu instruction throughout the country taught by individual Shifus (black belts) in small group environments and in various locations. All of our schools or local instructors of Northern Shou Shu may be contacted through the Contact Page.
LEVELS OF SHOU SHU
Unlike traditional kung fu, Northern Shou Shu uses a ranking system in order to assist students in achieving recognizable goals, as well as to assure that a strict level of quality control in respect to skill level and application is adhered to within the system. These ranks are:
- Student– (white belt through 1st Brown)
- Shifu– (black belt through 4th Degree-White Crane)
- Shun Shifu– (a Shifu who heads a school)
- Shigong– (5th degree-Mantis through 7th degree-Dragon)
- Da Shifu– (8th degree)
A student begins their journey within the system learning a blending of the seven different animal fighting styles, however once the level of Shifu (black belt) is attained, the student will truly begin to master each individual animal style. Many practitioners of Northern Shou Shu state that it is when one achieves the rank of Shifu, that one truly begins to learn the art. The rank of Shifu can take the average student 2-5 years to attain. Generally, each animal system can take a student 2-7 years to develop, subject only to a person’s individual abilities. The progression of the animal systems are:
- Bear (Xiong) — 1st Degree
- Tiger (Hu) — 2nd Degree
- Mongoose (Yon) — 3rd Degree
- Crane (He) — 4th Degree
- Master’s Level Ranks (Shigong)
- Mantis (Tang) — 5th Degree
- Cobra (She) — 6th Degree
- Dragon (Long) — 7th Degree
- The rank of Da Shifu is the 8th Degree, and can only be awarded by another Da Shifu.
Northern Shou Shu is designed for quick and efficient fighting reactions in the face of extremely hostile physical attacks. The emphasis on practical and efficient application in actual combat with multiple assailants, in often-times less than ideal environments, has helped to shape the evolution of Shou Shu for the modern world. It is due to this evolution, and the fact that Shou Shu is designed for these type of situations that it has been the martial art of choice for many individuals within the military, and/or federal and local law enforcement agencies.
Since the emphasis of the system is geared towards multiple assailants, who can also be armed, there is not a great emphasis on ground fighting. When combating several opponents, staying on your feet is definitely more ideal. In regards to military and law enforcement, positive weapon control and preventing being disarmed by your opponents is paramount, and once again, staying on your feet is more ideal.
A student of Northern Shou Shu will spend a large amount of time developing offensive and defensive reactions against street fighters, other martial artists, multiple opponents, and armed opponents. Training will include stress-based scenarios and learning to defend oneself in random environments ranging from the parking lot of a supermarket to the confines of a small bedroom. One cannot always control when an attack may take place, as such, one must constantly train to be ready, and learn to use the tools available to them.
Northern Shou Shu is not a sport-based martial art. It is purely street level self-defense martial art training. Using honorable combat a student can develop reaction level fighting to include not only striking and blocking with hands, arms, legs, and feet, but also combining attacks and defenses with the use of chin na (joint locks), grabs, take-downs, throws, and nerve strikes. Advanced honorable combat requires learning and developing the skill to remain within a particular animal system.
SHOU SHU AND CHILDREN
Shou Shu can be learned by young children, however great dedication and discipline is required. Shigong Ted Guerrero Jr. and his brother are products of the kid’s program within Shou Shu, as are many other Shou Shu practitioners over the years. Full service schools offer programs for children aged 3-17, while smaller schools may have limited programs, and cells may take children on a case-by-case basis. Contact your local school or cell and inquire about their children’s programs.
Both short and long Chinese weapons are taught in traditional and fighting applications in Northern Shou Shu. Students learn to understand the foundational principle that weapons are merely extensions of the body and require proper body motion and flowing energy to utilize correctly. Lessons in weapons will encompass the learning of both traditional and fighting forms, as well as controlled sparring and honorable combat practice with a weapon of choice against another weapon.
To learn more about Northern Shou Shu, contact your local school/cell and set up your first lesson today!