To train in any style of kung fu, especially in the art of Shaolin, individuals must first undergo a test and be accepted by the Sifu (Master). The purpose is to ensure that potential disciples are of good character and will not misuse Shaolin kung fu to harm others. Kung fu should be performed with the intent to assist those in need and protect the weak, and with the willingness to die in defending others. Disciples must be loyal, and have a sense of justice. If initiates pass the interview, they then begin building their foundations under the guidance of their Sifu.
Foundation training requires hard work and dedication. Great martial artists continuously drill in the basics so all their movements have maximum power and fluidity. To start, disciples learn the basic horse stance (Say-Ping Ma) for a period of three months. This builds good leg muscle strength, similar to the strong roots of a tree, making it impossible to be pushed over. It also tests to see whether disciples can develop patience and focus their minds, while spending sometimes up to one hour in a particular stance.
Foundation training also gives the Sifu time to really know the students’ personalities and see if they are loyal, respectful, and follow the rules and regulations of the Mo-Quoon (martial art school). It also helps filter out non-committed and lazy students. Screening out unwanted students normally takes three to five years with training into different areas of the style.