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Sifu Paul Burkinshaw


Paul first started boxing in 1983 at Newdigate Boys Club in Bedworth. Paul trained for five years having several amateur bouts, including representing Warwickshire against London before finishing in 1988.

While boxing, Paul started Shaolin Fist Kung-Fu in June 1986. Paul then went on to obtain his black sash with Sifu John Holden in March 1990.

During 1987 Paul also studied Shotokan karate, but gave it up by the end of the year after obtaining the first four grades in that style. In 1989 Paul was also involved in the formation of Dave Porters Shaolin Freestyle with Asa Darlison. He obtained his 1st Dan in February 1990, and 2nd Dan in May 1994 in this style. Paul was part of this association until early 1997 when he left to set up his own association focusing exclusively in traditional side of the art.

After obtaining his black sash in 1990, Paul needed a new challenge, and so started Tae Kwon Do as well. He studied this until 1992 with Mr Dave Oliver, when family commitments forced him to stop. From 1987 until 1992 Paul had been training seven times a week in either Kung-Fu, karate, boxing, or Tae Kwon Do. He resumed Tae Kwon Do in late 1995, and obtained his 1st Dan in April 1997 from Master Frank Murphy. Once achieving this grade, Paul finished Tae Kwon Do, so as to concentrate on Kung-Fu again.

In 1990 Paul resumed Boxing returning to Newdigate Boys club. After two years of intense training and several boxing matches later Paul once again retired from boxing to focus on Kung Fu.

During the period between 1986 to 1993, Paul entered many competitions for either sparring, open hand forms or weapons and won many first, second and third place prizes in local and regional competitions.

In 1994, Paul retired from competitions so that he could concentrate on teaching, and opened his first club in Coventry. Paul believed there was still much to learn from Kung-Fu, and became interested in traditional styles, travelling around the country researching different styles of Shaolin Kung-Fu. In 1997, while researching into traditional Kung-Fu, Paul was invited to study Northern Praying Mantis on an advanced instructor's course. Paul's teacher in Praying Mantis was Sifu Derek Frearson, who is the chief instructor of this style in Britain. Paul was given permission to teach Seven Star Praying Mantis in 1998.

During this period Paul also met and trained with Iain Armstrong of the Nam Yang Pugilistic Association. Iain has kindly helped Paul with the finer points of the art over the years, and his group has been instrumental in the training and development of Lion Dance within Sil Lum Kune.Also in 1997 Paul continued his study of Kung-Fu with his former Sifu, Master John Holden.

In February 1997 Paul formed ' Sil Lum Kune '. This system incorporated part of the Shaolin Fist system, plus other aspects of traditional Shaolin Kung-Fu that Paul had studied after many years in the art. Shortly after Master John Holden’s group merged with Paul’s Sil Lum Kune. Paul still used the Shaolin Fist Chinese Boxing Association (S.F.C.B.A.) name for his multi style association as a sign of respect.

In 1999 Paul once again entered into major competitions achieving the following results :-
1. 3rd place W.K.A British Championships for Chinese forms.
2. 1st place South East England Kung Fu Championships for Qingda sparring (under 85kg)
3. 2nd place W.U.M.A English Open Championships for continuous sparring (under 80kg)
4. 1st place U.K National Kung Fu Championships for Qingda sparring (under 85kg)
5. 1st place W.U.M.A Open National Championships for continuous sparring (under 80kg)
6. 1st place W.U.M.A Open National Championships for Chinese forms.

During 1999 Paul became a referee and judge with the B.C.C.M.A. officiating at both the U.K National Championships, and the Junior British Championships. Also in 1999 Paul continued his quest for Kung-Fu when he began to study Wing-Chun as a private (closed door) student of Sifu Duncan Osborne. During this same year Paul also achieved his 3rd Degree Black Sash after a gruelling five hour grading from Master John Holden.

Paul started off 2000 with continued success in competitions with the following results :-

1. 1st place W.U.M.A English Open Championships for Chinese forms.
2. 2nd place W.U.M.A English Open Championships for continuous sparring (under 80kg)
3. 3rd place W.U.M.A U.K. Open Championships for Chinese forms.
4. 1st place W.U.M.A U.K. Open championships for continuous sparring (under 80kg)

Then on 2nd March 2000 Paul was involved in a near fatal car accident when his car was hit by an articulated lorry. This accident kept him in hospital for two months, and then a further three months of physio were needed to enable Paul to regain his full mobility. Paul also used form practice and chi kung exercises to aid his recovery. Doctors informed Paul that the injuries he sustained in the accident should have killed him, and that his survival was down to his excellent health and fitness, as well as swift and expert medical treatment. Paul has since made a full recovery competing in major competitions, receiving an award from the W.U.M.A organisation for his dedication.

Paul rounded off 2000 by achieving a 2nd Place in the W.U.M.A World Championships in
Sicily for Chinese forms in November, and then in December Paul also competed in the W.U.M.A British Championships achieving :-

1) 1st Place in the Adult Chinese Forms
2) 1st Place in –80kgs points sparring
3) 1st Place in the Men’s Team event (with Aaron Marsh,
and Martin Scott. Many thanks to Aaron, and Martin who encouraged and trained with Paul enabling him to achieve these results after his accident.)

It was during this period that Paul set up the Chinese Boxing (Kickboxing) side of the style at the request of several of his students who wish to improve their sparring and fitness.

In March 2001 Master John Holden and Paul went to Hong Kong. Paul trained at the Chin Woo branch in Nathan Road studying Lohan style. At the end of Paul’s training he was awarded his 4th Degree Black Sash by Master John Holden in Hong Kong.

Paul has continued to develop within the B.C.C.M.A gaining more experience at events andcourses. In recognition of this, Paul was voted onto the Executive committee of the B.C.C.M.A in June 2001 by the Head’s of associations.

In October 2001 Paul was invited to the Combat Hall of Fame awards held in Birmingham, which he attended with Sifu John Holden, and several close students / friends. At this ceremony, Paul was awarded a place in the Hall of Fame for his achievements within martial arts.

In April 2002 Paul and several students travelled to Beijing, China. Paul and the group studied Wu Shu for three weeks at the Capital College of Physical Education. While in Beijing they visited the usual tourist attractions around the capital and also went to the Shaolin Temple in Honan province.

In June 2002 Paul was asked to represent England in an international competition by the B.C.C.M.A. Paul achieved a Bronze medal in the Traditional Southern Open Hand Forms category and took the Gold medal in the –85kgs Qingda sparring category. Paul was able to
continue this success in September at the B.C.C.M.A U.K National Championships where he won a Bronze medal in the Traditional Long Weapons, a Silver medal in the Traditional Southern Open Hand Forms and a Gold medal in the –85kgs Qingda sparring category.

In December 2002 Paul was able to open a Martial Arts Academy in Bedworth. This has been a benefit to the association, having a full time office, a place to conduct one to one
training, and a more traditional environment to tutor the higher grades in the more specialised arts.

In 2003 Paul has focused on developing and expanding Sil Lum Kune: Shaolin Fist Chinese Boxing Association with several of his assistant instructors opening up many new classes, and developing our weapons and Chinese Wrestling syllabus. At the 2003 B.C.C.M.A U.K National championships Paul once again won a gold medal for Qingda sparring. Later that year Paul was again awarded a place in the Combat Hall of Fame for his Commitment and Development of Martial Arts.

During the period 2002 to 2004 Paul had also been training with his Sifu, Master John Holden behind closed doors, which resulted in Paul being awarded his 5th Degree Black Sash from Master John Holden in March 2004. Later during 2004 Paul retained his title at the B.C.C.M.A U.K National Championships for Qingda Sparring.

In March of 2005 Sifu Paul Burkinshaw once again returned to the Shaolin Temple in Honan.  Whilst training in the temple Sifu Paul was awarded his 6th degree black sash by Master John Holden. At the B.C.C.M.A U.K National Championships Paul once again won his category for Qingda sparring. 

 In August 2006 Paul competed at the Chin Woo World Championships and won the 85-94kg category making him World Champion for Qingda sparring. Paul has now decided to retire from competition after 8 years of success.

The Sil Lum Kune system continues to evolve and develop, Sifu Paul Burkinshaw together with Sarinder Singh and some Instructors have expanded the Chinese wrestling so that it has it's own syllabus. Chinese Wrestling now has its own classes allowing the expansion of the groundwork and grappling elements of the system.

In the summer of 2007, Paul was able to realise his dream and have a purpose built martial arts academy. This had taken 10 long years of hard saving for him to finally finance this building for his club and students.

On 9th May 2008, Paul was awarded his 7th Degree Black Sash by the AMA (Amateur Martial Association) for his achievements and dedication. Paul continued to coach his students with many of them achieving National, International and even World titles at various competitions. In 2011, Paul decided to try his hand once more and won the BCCMA British Championships for Qingda sparring.

Since 2011, Paul has concentrated on coaching his students and building up the Kickboxing side of the association.