QA: Gong Li Quan

qaredDear Sifu Mancuso,
Recently, I’ve been trying to learn more about Tan Tui’s brother: Gong Li Quan. I say “brother” because the two are both recognized as reliable, off-the-rack forms for developing general strength and skill in kung fu, and they’re both included in the Jing Wu curriculum (some of PlumPub’s own books even have the two forms in one volume!). And yet, I’ve found it quite difficult to find much written work or videos on how to train the form when you compare it to the Tan Tui style. There’s no doubt Tan Tui is a great form; I love its simplicity and honesty. But why has Gong Li Quan fallen by the wayside in terms of visibility in mainstream publications? Are the principles a step above those of Tan Tui? Or does it just appeal to a more specialized interest? And, on another note entirely, if I can get my hands on a book about Gong Li Quan, do you have any tips for practise?


Dear Amir,
As you already know, I’m sure, Gong Li Quan means “flowing strength.” The version I studied came through the Mantis/Fu Jow connection. It is a great form. I can tell you a few interesting things I know about it. Though having similar strong motions as Tan Tui, it takes its name seriously with significantly more fluid transitions, so the soft and hard are more distinguished. Though a good basic structure form, it is a little more flexible than Tan Tui as far as exact positions.

There is also a style named after Gong Li Quan. Here’s the thing about the difference in the arts between Tan Tui and Gong Li: although there are many variations between different Tan Tui forms found in different styles, they all, basically, adhere to the famous poem. For Gong Li, there is the basic form found, for instance, in the book below, but then there are a number of forms with the same name but that bear little resemblance.

Here’s an anecdote very few people know about:

When Kung Fu was very hot during the early 70’s, and people were going from studio to studio, all the sifus in San Francisco, under a suggestion, I believe, from Brendan Lai, got together and decided to have only one basic form, regardless of style, to discourage people jumping around. Instead of Tan Tui, they picked Gong Li Quan.

I like the form, but find it less definitive in its structural components than Tan Tui which, if you mastered Tan Tui, is exactly as it should be.

Also, just to mention: Lien Bu, Tan Tui and Gong Li Quan are sort of a triad of beginning forms which encompass a lot of the basic skills of Kung Fu, and you could do worse than study these for their basics.

As far as recommendations, there used to be a book by Kam Yuen that had Lian Bu and Gong Li Quan in it; you may be able to find it online. In Plum’s catalogue, Basic Chinese Boxing, on this page shows a Gong Li form:

also, TC616 on this page is a book in Chinese on the form:

That’s all I can think of right now; I hope it helps.



One Response to “QA: Gong Li Quan”

  1. Rick says:

    Dr. Yang Jwing Ming has a DVD out that teaches Lian Bu Quan, Gong Li Quan, and Tan Tui. The DVD is titled “Shaolin Long Fist Kung Fu: Basic Sequences.” He has a companion book titled “Shaolin Long Fist Kung Fu”that teaches Lien Bu Chuan and Gung Li Chuan. That book is available here on Plum.

    Kam Yuen’s book “Beginning Kung Fu” teaches the Lian Bu Quan form (it’s called “Ling Po” in his book). I don’t know if he had any other books out back then; that’s the only one I’ve got, but it wasn’t as easy to find information back then as it is now. It’s kind of ironic, we have access to more information now than we have ever had, but the interest in kung fu was so much greater back in the 70s than it is now, as Shifu Mancuso notes.

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