Zui quan

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Zui quan (Chinese: 醉拳), which means Drunken kung fu, is a general name for all the styles of Chinese martial arts that imitate the movements of a drunkard. It is an ancient style and its origin is mainly traced back to the famous Buddhist and Daoist sects. The Buddhist style is related to the Shaolin temple while the Daoist style is based on the Daoist tale of the drunken Eight Immortals. Zui quan has the most unusual body mechanics among all the styles of Chinese martial arts, making use of all, even the most unusual, parts of the body to attack and defend. Hitting, grappling, locking, dodging, feinting, and ground and aerial fighting methods are all incorporated. Zui quan is considered one of the most advanced styles of kung fu.

Zui quan features[edit]

The technical features of zui quan are based on imitating a drunkard.[1] The main body method is called sloshing, which refers to "Hollow Body, Wine Belly" concept, as though the body is hollow and the lower abdomen (丹田; dantian) is filled with wine (instead of Qi), which travels through the body adding power to the movements.[2] The postures are driven by weight and momentum of the whole body, staggering around, creating sudden power from awkward positions, and fluidity in the movements and transitions from one pose to another. Drunken body style seems peculiar and off-balance, but it is actually in balance.

Drunken style is among the most difficult wushu styles due to the need for advanced basic requirements. Its intangible, heavy sloshing power is gained through training the body to be soft and agile through basic training and the drunken forms. While in fiction practitioners of zui quan are portrayed as being actually drunk, zui quan techniques are highly acrobatic and require a great degree of balance and coordination, such that attempting to perform these moves while drunk, if not impossible, is dangerous.[3]

Drinking, swaying, and falling with great momentum are used to throw off opponents, this power must be from softness and heaviness. When swigging a wine cup the practitioner is really practicing grabbing and striking techniques. The main hand gesture imitates holding a small cup of wine. This semi-closed hand uses back of the hand, fingers, palms, wrists, forearms, and other parts to attack or defend, grab or throw, lock or release, etc. Fists are rarely used. Most, even the most unusual parts of the body, are actively used in drunken style. The movements style trick opponents into unpredictable situations of attack and defense. Aerial and ground dodges and falls can be used to avoid attacks but also to pin attackers to the ground while vital points are targeted.[3]

Zui quan styles[edit]

A great variety of kung fu schools have drunken styles,[4] but the 2 major schools are the Buddhist and Daoist styles:[3]

Buddhist style[edit]

Creation of the Buddhist style of zui quan is attributed to Shaolin temple. At the beginning of the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD), 13 monks from the Shaolin temple intervened in a great war to help Li Shimin against rebel forces. The role of the monks was prominent so Li Shimin, as the next emperor, appreciated the monks' help and bestowed on them officialdom, land, and wealth. In ceremony of the victory, he sent the temple a gift of meat and wine.[5](vol2,p475) Because of the emperor's permission, the monks could abandon the Buddhist rule of not consuming meat and wine. This happened around 621 AD and since then, some Shaolin monks have consumed wine.

The drunken style was first introduced in the Song dynasty (960-1279 AD).[5](vol2,p476) It is said that a man named Liu Qizan,[3] who accidentally killed a person, sought refuge in Shaolin to avoid trial and to repent. Despite his monastic vows, he still continued drinking wine. This was not tolerable by the monks and they wanted to expel him from the temple. While completely drunk after consuming a huge amount of wine, he defied and beat the monks, some say 30 monks. The abbot, after seeing this, praised his skill. This drunken style of combat was adopted from him by the monks and refined over the generations.[5](vol2,p476)[3]

The most important Buddhist icons in Shaolin kung fu are Arhats, known in Chinese as Luohans. The same holds for the drunken style as a part of Shaolin kung fu, in which, the main character is the drunken luohan. Drunken luohan methods in Shaolin kung fu do not appear only in zui quan, but in some other styles as well. For examples in luohan quan a drunken luohan steps forward, and in Shaolin mad-devil staff[6] a drunken luohan sways to the sides with disorderly steps.

As with other Shaolin styles, Shaolin zui quan is not a complete stand-alone system itself, but consists of a few barehanded and weapon forms which together with other forms and styles comprise the whole system of Shaolin quan. Every lineage of Shaolin monks may have one or two barehanded[7][8][9] and one or a few weapon forms of zui quan. The main weapon is the drunken staff,[10][11] but other weapons such as the drunken sword[12] are also practiced. Though the technical contents are almost the same, the drunken forms of different lineages are different and their historical sources are mostly unclear.

Daoist style[edit]

The Daoist style of zui quan imitates the characters of the "Drunken Eight Immortals" (zui ba xian). This style is a complete system itself comprising 8 forms, each representing one of the eight immortal characters:

  1. Lu Dongbin (吕洞宾), the leader of the 8 immortals, with a sword on his back that dispels evil spirits, swaying back and forth to trick the enemy.[13]
  2. Li Tieguai (李铁拐), Li, the cripple, walks with an iron cane, feigns the weakness of having just one leg, to win the fight.[14]
  3. Han Zhongli (汉钟离), the strongest immortal, who carries a large cauldron of wine, tackles the enemies with strength.[15]
  4. Lan Caihe (蓝采和), sexually ambiguous, carries a bamboo basket, attacking the enemies with rotating feminine waist, mostly feminine postures.[16]
  5. Zhang Guolao (张果老), the old man Zhang, donkey rider, with his entertaining postures on the donkey, and his donkey's lethal, advanced kicks.[17]
  6. Cao Guojiu (曹国舅), the youngest immortal, a clever, controlled fighter, he may lock and break the joints (擒拿; qin na), attacks the deadly, soft parts of the enemy body (点穴; dian xue).[18]
  7. Han Xiangzi (韩湘子), flute-playing immortal, denying and countering the enemy attacks.[19]
  8. He Xiangu (何仙姑), Miss He, flirting with the enemy to cover her short-range attacks, evading the enemy attacks with the twisting beautiful feminine body.[20]

This style has also several weapon forms. The main weapon is the drunken sword,[21] but other weapons such as the staff are also used.

Other schools of training for the drunken eight immortals focus on conditioning, body methods, qigong/neigong/meditation, drunken yoga, as well as specific combat methods for each archetype[22].

Other styles[edit]

Many Chinese martial arts have drunken style methods.

In popular culture[edit]




Video Games[edit]


  1. ^ "Shaolin Boxing Styles". Shaolin International Federation. Retrieved 2014-11-03. 
  2. ^ Secrets of Drunken Boxing Volume 2 - Neil Ripski
  3. ^ a b c d e f Chen, Calvin. "Drunken Kung Fu". KungFuMagazine.com. Retrieved 2013-11-13. 
  4. ^ Dingbo Wu (1994). Handbook Of Chinese Popular Culture. Greenwood. ISBN 0313278083. 
  5. ^ a b c Shi Deqian (1995). 少林寺武術百科全書 (Encyclopedia of Shaolin martial arts) - 4 volumes. ISBN 9787806000991. 
  6. ^ Shi Deyang (2005). The Original Boxing Tree Of Traditional Shaolin Kung Fu series: Shaolin Fengmo Cudgel (video). 
  7. ^ Shi Yanbin. 醉拳一路 (video). 
  8. ^ Shi Guolin. Drunken Fist Form (video). 
  9. ^ Xing Junjian. Shaolin Drunken Boxing (video). 
  10. ^ Shi Yanbin. 醉棍 (video). 
  11. ^ Shi Guolin. Drunken Staff Form (video). 
  12. ^ Shi Guolin. Drunken Sword Form (video). 
  13. ^ Drunken Kung Fu - Eight Drunken Immortals, 1st Form: Lu Don Bin. ikungfu.net. 
  14. ^ Drunken Kung Fu - Eight Drunken Immortals, 2nd Form: Li Tit Kwai. ikungfu.net. 
  15. ^ Drunken Kung Fu - Eight Drunken Immortals, 3rd Form: Han Zhong Li. ikungfu.net. 
  16. ^ Drunken Kung Fu - Eight Drunken Immortals, 4th Form: Lan Cai He. ikungfu.net. 
  17. ^ Drunken Kung Fu - Eight Drunken Immortals, 5th Form: Zhang Guo Lao. ikungfu.net. 
  18. ^ Drunken Kung Fu - Eight Drunken Immortals, 6th Form: Cao Guo Jiu. ikungfu.net. 
  19. ^ Drunken Kung Fu - Eight Drunken Immortals, 7th Form: Han Xiang Zi. ikungfu.net. 
  20. ^ Drunken Kung Fu - Eight Drunken Immortals, 8th Form: He Xian Gu. ikungfu.net. 
  21. ^ You Xuande. The Wudang esoteric kung fu series: Wu Dang 8 drunken immortals swordplay (video). 
  22. ^ The Path of Drunken Boxing - Drunken Eight Immortals Nei Gong. drunkenyoga.net. 
  23. ^ "Choi Lei Fut Drunken Form". The Martialarm.com. Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
  24. ^ "Choi Lei Fut Drunken Boxing". Flying Eagle Martial Arts. Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
  25. ^ Toriyama, Akira (2003). "Chapter 48". Dragon Ball, Volume 4. Viz Media. 
  26. ^ Kishimoto, Masashi (2007). "Chapter 210-211". Naruto, Volume 25. Viz Media. ISBN 1-4215-1860-0. 
  27. ^ Børdahl, Vibeke. The Oral Traditions of Yangzhou Storytelling. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon Press, 1996 (ISBN 0-7007-0436-1), pp. 365-376