The transcript below is from the video “Shaolin Master Breaks Down 10 Kung Fu Movie Fights | How Real Is It?” by Insider.

Shifu Yanzi (Grandmaster of Shaolin Temple UK):

For me, I think real fighting is not really like this.

My name is Shifu Yanzi. Shifu Yanzi is the Shaolin Temple name. Since 1983, I went to Shaolin Temple, so now I’m the 34th-generation Shaolin kung fu warrior, disciple. In 1998, I came to London. My Shaolin experience is more than 35 years. Today I will break down some kung fu movies.

When we talk about, ‘What do you teach when you say we teach Shaolin?’ But because Shaolin is so big, people really hard to recognize what does the Shaolin style look like. Because Shaolin, you know, they have hundreds and hundreds of different forms. And also, weapons. And also, the training, 72 styles. If my opinion, so, it’s that Shaolin style basically is kung fu and wisdom together. So, it’s balanced. The mind-body spirit balanced.

Shifu Yanzi (Grandmaster of Shaolin Temple UK):

[Scene from “Enter the Dragon” 1973.]

He come here and try to fly-jump at him, then he straightaway knows, he doesn’t need some fancy move. He just lies down on the floor. He gives you one throw and give you one kick. It’s simple. For martial artists, useful is beautiful. Useless? You know, or fancy? No, I don’t think it’s beautiful. Kung fu kicks, you know, they have many kicks. We have dēng tuǐ. We have chuài tuǐ, or biān tuǐ. And also, we have backspin, high kick. Sweep kicks have front sweep or back sweep. Also flying kicks, flying knees. So, all the different types of kicks in martial arts.

Punch is the same as well. Punch, they have some Chinese-named one, also, they use, like, a boxing one. One is a straight punch. And also, you have a hook punch. And also, they have uppercut. In kung fu, they’re just called a zhí quán, bǎi quán, gōu quán. Also, they have, another different one is like a backspin. So, when you’re fighting sometimes you do one, then you backspin, kick, punch. You do that one, you backspin. Also, they use here to fight. Here fight. We call it biān quán. It’s like a snap. Like I used one rope. Just snap like this. So, [demonstrates] this. This punch is very powerful.

[Scene from “Enter the Dragon” 1973.]

Now, this called chuài tuǐ, side kick. Chuài tuǐ is very famous Chinese tradition kicks. Also, it’s Bruce Lee, I think his favorite kick in the film. This side kick has a lot of power.

[Scene from “Enter the Dragon” 1973]

He learned from the Wing Chun. That’s really representative of all the Wing Chun styles. And he gave the Chinese name about this, called gōu lòu shǒu. They directly push you, and then they feel you push back, then the hands come back. Then, because you push to me, then I come to fight you. It’s like a crash. That’s why, in the film, they’re doing this one.

[Scene from “Enter the Dragon” 1973.]

If you have the backflip as a skill you practiced, then you can. He’s trying to tell the people in different situations what kind of technique you use. You can see they grab your leg and only lift up. In that time, you could do backspin and do this kick. I think it is possible. For the easy way, if he grab on my leg and there’s one leg there, so, I can punch you in a way where I just quickly push you on the floor and then beat you. In reality, this probably is most useful one. Bruce Lee film, you can see they called many, many millions of people to learn martial arts.

(Rating 10/10)

Shifu Yanzi (Grandmaster of Shaolin Temple UK):

[Scenes from “The Shaolin Temple” 1982.]

I watched this film, and in 1983, I went to Shaolin. You can see they have a lot of different weapons. Normally we have 18 different styles, different weapons. So, in here, I think at least they have eight or nine or ten. They have a stick, they have a spear, they have a sword, they have a three-section chain, and also they have a two-sections one. This one is like, one is a side long, and in the top, they have this long, with a chain.

[Scenes from “The Shaolin Temple” 1982.]

You know, when you use a stick, even you use a spear, because it’s long weapons, you can, it’s a quite useful technique. Because if many people try to get close to you, you’re holding in the middle. They you use your waist, and you tuck your waist. You’re turning, see, then this side become powerful, this side become powerful. They can hit people. The man, they don’t want the people all close to him. When you make a big swing or whatever, so people go hiding or go back, so you have space. When you use long weapons, you need to have space. If you don’t have space, you cannot fight. That’s the one pulling me go to Shaolin Temple.

(Rating 8/10)

Shifu Yanzi (Grandmaster of Shaolin Temple UK):

[Scene from “The Matrix” 1999.]

For me, I think real fighting is not really like this. What happens someone face to you; they want to fight you. So, it’s simple, you know. It’s a question of you just give him punch or give him kick. You don’t make some pose or whatever, so it’s…. This is just for film, for show. That pose, you know, Wong Fei Hung, you know, Jet Li films, they made this pose. That pose I recognize straightaway; I see it’s a Wong Fei Hung Jet Li pose. And the other one, it’s like, it can be the crane or be tai chi styles like that. Yeah, they do have…look like they mixed many styles, even they are doing [demonstrates] you know. And this, Shaolin have this, also Baji have this kind of movements as well, because it’s really powerful. They also have Bruce Lee styles. But it really doesn’t have Bruce Lee movement. You know, Bruce Lee movement is really easy to recognize.

I heard that he doing this form a span of six months, for training, so for six months, to get the acting like this is quite good. You can see the energy is there. If they really put time to training, you know, real kung fu, they both can be very, very good. Chinese kung fu film, they really like to show some incredible result, to, people can see the kung fu, how good. For example, they are flying, they go to knee to the floor, then the wooden floor has a big dent. So, you don’t need to see him do any fancy movement. Just that one you can already tell that guy is very good at kung fu. Kung fu fighting is not like that. At least, you know, they get a five.

(Rating 5/10)

Shifu Yanzi (Grandmaster of Shaolin Temple UK):

[Scene from “Police Story” 1985.]

Jackie Chan, the style is different. It’s like for a street fight. For one fight, many people. He’s very, very good action kung fu films. It’s quite real. It’s funny, but it’s real. For example, like, here they use the clothing hanging, because he can use chairs, can use anything against, especially one person fights many people. And also, he’s very flexible as well. He fights on the left a guy, on the right a guy come in. You can see he knows. So, he goes there, quickly sort it out. Then he has to go there. He cannot keep going like this, [demonstration] don’t care about that guy. In reality, if you really meet these bad situations somehow and put your life in danger, and you have experience to fight and you cannot run away, you have to. So, then it’s different story.

Jackie Chan, the styles, people need to study. You know, you can see they run, they fight. Someplace they cannot run, they find out this place, you know, there’s a big window or, whatever, big fence you cannot climb, then they have to fight. In Shaolin, we are also training sometimes one fighter, two; one fighter, three; one fighter, five. In reality, if they are holding something, they don’t all come together. They come too close; they can hit each other as well.

[Scene from “Police Story” 1985.]

I think this kick is acting. But if they really have powerful, then it’s possible. Because you can see they’re holding the clothing hanging bar, and they’re kicking like this. In reality, we see many people like this. We punch, and when you do one punch, they can fly. Do one kick, it’s same.

[Scene from “Police Story” 1985.]

That can happen. If you’re really powerful, that can happen like this. Normally, you know, the opponent, they help each other. For example, when Jackie Chan hold his leg, other guy, the two legs, they try to hold his waist. Clench harder, so to make him easy to swing. If, reality, if he wants, he also can. In reality, if I hold your leg like this, then imagine your leg loose or not, I just use this pick up, so I can swing you as well. I think his point is quite high for me. I think even, like, eight or nine.

(Rating 8/10)

Shifu Yanzi (Grandmaster of Shaolin Temple UK):

[Scene from “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin” 1978.]

The king of the weapons is a spear. Because the king of weapons, that’s why, because it very difficult to practice. Very difficult to make a high achievement. The top of the spear, you know, you go to stab, you know, it’s like an arrow shooting. So, and very fast, very direct, very powerful. It’s hard to block, very hard to block. Especially when they use this technique. You know, we call it lán ná zhā. ‘Lán’ means block. ‘Ná’ means control. ‘Zhā’ means stab. When we parry the spear in Shaolin, the master teaches, only standing here holding the stick, just holding the spear, just keep doing this movement. [Demonstrates] ‘Pah, pah, pah. Pah, pah, pah. Pah, pah, pah.’ So, practice that many times.

Then sometime the master just shows the tree, they have a tree, and says, that one leaf. You go to stab the leaves. The tree leaves. Just [demonstrates] you know, 10 times, you cannot reach one. In the film, they show that kind of skill. It’s not easy to get. The sword, they have all different technique. For example, if you’re holding the sword in here, so people use a spear to attack you, you go under, you see, then it’s being blocked. So, once you blocked, then you can use your sword to chop him, to attack. And also, you have one hand is free. If the spear stab me, so I go like that. I go like that, so then I can use my hand, you see. Grab. Yeah. So, you’re very fast there. Go, ‘pah, pah, pow!’

[Scene from “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” 2000.]

If you, for example, if you go here, and then another guy’s coming, doing something, so when you go here, so you’d blocked, and you have to quickly go down. That’s why the sword, they have very important basic movement we call chán tóu guǒ nǎo. Chán tóu guǒ nǎo basically is your head. They use, for example, this is the sword, I go from here, go to your head, come back, come up, from behind your head, then come to here. They have two ways. One is like this. Two is like that, opposite way, come back. This is a basic movement when you learn the sword. Kung fu is not only fist or legs. Kung fu have weapons as well.

(Rating 7/10)

Shifu Yanzi (Grandmaster of Shaolin Temple UK):

[Scene from “Ip Man 2” 2010.]

The Ip Man, he’s acting as a Wing Chun master. Another guy, Hung Kam-bo, also is a kung fu master. That’s the story, is to try to test his Wing Chun style, how good he is. So, then the two use the different type of the traditional kung fu. The stool, he stabs his leg and just jump-fly to that. You see that? This already show, you know, incredible skill, you know, I think. This is for show how good they are. All my life I never see some fighting like this. Of course, they are doing mostly Wing Chun. You can see the Wing Chun. Like this, the barge. You know, the barge, you know, in Baji, they have barge. Also, in Shaolin have barge. Xinyi, also, they have this kind of technique. This fight, we don’t – they are both using traditional kung fu. They are both. But just different style.

[Scene from “Ip Man 2” 2010.]

This movement, this kick is possible, but in here, if they don’t use wires, they do that, afterwards we don’t know. Maybe they fall down. Maybe they just fall over. On the table, it’s very difficult. Very dangerous. If I on the table fight and I try to stay in the middle, you know, I’d make my stance bigger. It’s more stable. So, I put you in the edge. So, if you come in, I just give one kick and you’re just off the table. This is simple. Yeah? But, you know, so, in this one probably they’re doing fairly, you know, also it’s very fancy and dramatic. You stay edge, I stay edge. You move forwards, I move forwards. So, this means I respect each other. He’s very skilled. He’s great fighter, and he’s real fighter as well. So, he likes doing real action. Give you one kick, not 100% power, but at least 70, 80% power.

So, when we do some film training, you know, when we’re doing some actions, even people punch, like this acting. You punch, you block this, you block that. Normally we don’t – you kick, you block that, you block that. Second day, you see some here, little bruise, or there a little bruise. For the action film, you still need to take people’s power. Otherwise, it still looks like a fake. On the table fight, I don’t think it’s reality. Nobody fights on the table.

(Rating 6/10)

Shifu Yanzi (Grandmaster of Shaolin Temple UK):

[Scene from “Once Upon a Time in China” 1991.]

Jet Li don’t have weapons, just empty hands. Actually, he can. You see they have lot of chance, can get a sword or can get a spear, but it looks like it just not interesting. It’s not everyone come to fight him together. Only the spear, you can see the spear, many people from far away, all the spear come to attack him.

[Scene from “Once Upon a Time in China” 1991.]

To kick, if you choreograph like that and you just point to the place, then a jump and a kick, then it’s possible.

[Scene from “Once Upon a Time in China” 1991.]

This technique is possible to break the stick. Because he uses his leg to wrap around like a snake. To fight a lot of people without weapons, I don’t think is possible. Jet Li, in the action film, the kung fu film, he’s very good at acting. He’s a world champion, a wushu champion. Qī xiàng quán néng means seven different fist form and different weapons. You know, and the fight, they call it seven champion. This is not a real fight. You know, so for the real one, I don’t think, you know, it’s only choreography.

(Rating 5/10)

Shifu Yanzi (Grandmaster of Shaolin Temple UK):

[Scene from “Kung Fu Hustle” 2004.]

It’s like a cartoon or something, you know? So, when they kick wherever, people fly, then you see that. It’s too much. I think it’s, like, a fun film for people.

[Scene from “Kung Fu Hustle” 2004.]

In Chinese essential they do have some grabbing-leg skill. But because the…you cannot overspin his foot, because you overspin his foot, and then the joint will be broken. If, on the street fighting, you want to break his leg, and also that guy, the opponent, is very experienced, if you hold his leg, you want to overtwist, 360 angle, to break his knee, it’s possible he will do the spin.

[Scene from “Kung Fu Hustle” 2004.]

You can do two kicks in reality. You know, you can do it in different way. But use very clever strategy. You can do one fake kick and then one real kick. You can do one sweep kick, then you just knee and foot down, that give you one knee or give you one kick. They do one lightly controlled sweep kick and kick him, making it loose like that. And he’s kicked, and then his foot come back, and boom, give you a second kick.

[Scene from “Kung Fu Hustle” 2004.]

But for this one they have a handle, however, so it’s easier than the knife. Everyone has this. Called a fǔ tou bāng. Fǔ tou bāng is…they have fǔ tou. This called ax, called a fǔ tou. They’re not throwing, they just keep doing like that. So, you hold it properly. Otherwise they will lose. Really, it’s not useful.

(Rating 3/10)

Shifu Yanzi (Grandmaster of Shaolin Temple UK):

[Scenes from “Shaolin” 2011.]

Not difficult. His sword is much heavier than the monk’s. So, in that point, if he uses that, and then you use this against, then it’s possible to break. The two holding the sword are two different type of swords. One is a wider one. It’s called a guǐ tóu dāo, Ghost Head sword. The monk’s sword is quite common in China.

[Scenes from “Shaolin” 2011.]

They just go through from the sword. You know, so these men basically, they know their life is ending. This is exact talk about justice against evil time. So, when you know it’s time to die, then you are just dead for the meaningful things. So, sometimes kung fu is not who has the best skill. It’s who is the best person. You know, it’s a spirit. All the action kung fu films try to spread out the message is the justice and the peace. For the real martial art is the spirit when you faced with some situations, if you know it’s time to die, then you go to it. For example, to protect the people, to protect the peace. That good. I can give this full points. It’s 10, because they talk the truth. You know, the truth is there.

(Rating 10/10)

Shifu Yanzi (Grandmaster of Shaolin Temple UK):

[Scene from “Fist of Fury” 1972.]

See, he gets a hit, two punches on his face. I think Bruce Lee, his acting also is quite good, quite reasonable, like reality. It’s not only you beat someone else and then you never getting beat. They show the willpower, the spirit. You can see his eyes, his energy. You know, they try to show their best skill. He’s very good. We watch his fighting, even look like this century. In that time, martial arts, I think, traditional martial arts are most people doing the forms. And also, the fighting, you’d never see someone fighting like this. So, he’s like a genius man. When I was young in Shaolin, I have his book. And I read a lot. We know about his stories. He had some experience of karate. Doing tae kwon do. Doing boxing. Afterwards he’d get up, and he’d calm down. You know, he’d change techniques.

[Scene from “Fist of Fury” 1972.]

For me, you know, he’s my hero. He’s my teacher. So, it’s really, for me to judge, to say something like this opinion, it’s…you know, for me, he’s ideally the man. He’s No. 1. If we say the score, you know, of course it’s a full up score.

(Rating 10/10)

It’s like a cartoon or something, you know? So, when they kick wherever, people fly, then you see that. It’s too much. I think it’s, like, a fun film for people.




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