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Origins of Sil Lum Kune’s Chinese Wrestling to MMA


Chinese wrestling is the oldest style martial arts recorded. In Chinese history, records of this wrestling system can be traced back to 2697 BC. The Shaolin style of Sil Lum Kune has its roots in Chinese wrestling. Many of the self-defence techniques of Sil Lum Kune have grappling elements, which belong to the history of Chinese wrestling. So Chinese wrestling has both striking and grappling elements, which helps it to become a very effective form of self-defence.

The Chinese wrestling syllabus has fused together the striking elements of Sil Lum Kune with the grappling elements to help create a hybrid system of martial arts / self-defence. The numerous drills, bag work, dummy work and free sparring helps the student to develop a good cardiovascular system and also helps to test the students skills under a pressured and controlled environment.

Shuai-Chiao (Mandarin translates to Throwing Horns) does not rely on just physical strength, but uses balance, leverage and circular throwing motions. Using the circular theory of yin / yang - Shuai-Chiao redirects incoming energy into a throw or takedown or submission. Proper stances and footwork also forms an integral part of the Chinese wrestling system. Knowing when to adopt the correct stance and tactically manoeuvring your opponent into a disadvantageous position so that you can capitalise on it is part of the decision making process the student will learn.

In Sil Lum Kune Chinese wrestling we help and support each other to learn proper use of technique. We inform each other when techniques are implemented weakly so we can improve ourselves. The whole system has been appropriately developed into a grading system, which enables the practitioner to progress through different levels of skill up to Black Sash.

Sifu Paul Burkinshaw has studied Chinese martial arts for nearly thirty years covering various aspects and techniques for grappling. During this time he studied the art of Mongolian Wrestling with Master John Holden, as part of the Shaolin Fist system. Part of the White Tiger style which Paul has spent may years studying and was originally formulated by Master Bob Johnson also focused on the Indian wrestling style known as Kushti (also spelt Kusti).

Sarinder Singh studied under Paul during the early 1990’s. Part of his training to achieve his Black sash was the Chinese and Mongolian wrestling. This brief period of wrestling inspired Sarinder to explore deeper into the various styles of grappling and wrestling. Over the next ten years he trained in Judo, Olympic wrestling and Brazilian Ju Jitsu to name but a few. This enabled him to gain a very comprehensive range of knowledge and experience in these arts.

Sarinder & Paul 2003

Around 2000 Sarinder contacted Paul and explained his training in the various wrestling and grappling arts and his desire to combine his experience and knowledge with Paul’s to form a comprehensive wrestling system. Sarinder spent the next three to four years occasionally attending some classes to share his experience and knowledge of the grappling styles he had studied. During this period Sarinder also conducted several seminars for the instructors and students that wish to gain a more thorough appreciation of the grappling and wrestling arts.

In 2002 Andy Davies, a Ju Jitsu instructor held a seminar for Sil Lum Kune sharing his knowledge. (see news articles 2002 for a full write up & photos.)

During this period Paul and Sarinder formulated ideas for the wrestling syllabus. During the latter part of 2004 Paul  and Sarinder tested out the practicality of these ideas. This resulted in the formation of the Sil Lum Kune Chinese Wrestling syllabus and classes began in January 2005. 

Over the years at the BCCMA UK National Championships we saw the traditional style of Shuai Chiao being performed and decided that we should gain more knowledge and experience in this art. Master Robert Simpson is the highest ranking person in the UK of Shuai Chiao and he graciously accepted our invitation to instruct us in 2005.


Master Robert Simpson and several of his instructors came to our club and conducted two Shuai Chiao seminars for Sil Lum Kune allowing us to gain experience in this field of stand up wrestling. In recent years several students have achieved medal positions at the BCCMA UK National champions and in 2007 Mat Reynolds won his weight division making him –75kgs UK National Champion.

In 2007 many students including several grappling instructors spent a week in Italy with Master Jeff Sawyer learning many practical moves and applications from his style of Ju Jitsu


During the week Jeff taught various techniques and concepts from his style of Ju Jitsu, focusing on practical moves and applications.

Since opening our wrestling and grappling classes in 2005, Sil Lum Kune has attracted other practitioners / students which had previous experience in forms of grappling. From 2005 until 2008 the syllabus continually progressed, and expanded with input from these several Wrestling / grappling instructors (Paul Burkinshaw, Sarinder Singh, Jamie Prenderville  & Lee Walford) of the system. The Sil Lum Kune system of Wrestling & Grappling now covers aspects of Shuai Chiao (traditional standing wrestling), total floor wrestling and grapple and strike mixed martial arts.


In 2009 the Wrestling class was taken over by Lee Walford. Lee restructured the syllabus to incorporate a more flowing progressive style following the lines of the more prominent MMA & Cage styles but still on a semi-contact basis for students to learn more. These classes were more Grappling based, but at this time called Chinese Wrestling from the traditional orgins that they grew out of.


From 2011, Lee Walford has focused the style more to the MMA format that is now more prominant in the World of martial arts. With this in mind it was thought that the name of the club had to be changed to reflect this and a new badge designed. The club is now called "SLK MMA".