List | China Events | Culture of China | Festivals in China | History of China | Land of China | Chinese Architecture | Chinese Medicine | People in China | China Tales | Buddhism & Daoism | Feng Shui | Mysticism | Martial Arts | Chinese Food

Home >> Martial Arts

Martial Arts training Manual for
Shaolin Kung Fu

1 June 2006


Shaolin Monk Shi [Ming Dynasty]

Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of martial arts. One is to strengthen the body through physical training, and the other is to empower the qi by way of mental cultivation. To be an accomplished practitioner of Shaolin Kung Fu, you’ll have to master the both.

Any Kung Fu man worth his salt knows this line: sheer size and raw strength are no match for competent skills, and skills are no match for the power of pure qi.

As such, Shaolin Kung Fu can never be divorced from its original purpose that is the pursuit of enlightenment. To practice Shaolin Kung Fu is to progressively unfold the process of distilling, purifying and expanding qi, which leads to true-self discovery. If you treat it otherwise, you’ll devoid of it original efficacy.

Mercian, a Great Confucian scholar, once said, "The goal of my life is to cultivate my pure qi until it fills the whole universe." And this is what Shaolin Kung Fu tries to help you to ultimately achieve.

Inner Kung Fu Preparations

The first thing to do before taking a martial arts training is to purify and harness your mind. Only when your mind is pure and strong, you can then transform it into qi - the very life force; and only when each part of your body is flooded with the vital life force energy, you’ll be able to reach your full physical potential and go beyond.

The principal way to achieve this is to overcome your desire and to create a tranquil state in your mind. Each time you fall under temptation of lust and craving, you lose a portion of your vital qi; and each time you follow your mood to pursue mental impressions, you interrupt the natural flow of your life force.

An effective technique for mental training is "Let Go". When doing sitting, standing or lying meditation, you just let go all your thoughts and concerns, and expand your mind to encompass the whole universe, until you feel the boundary between what you perceive as the limits of your own personal identity and the rest of the world disappears.

When you finish the meditation, bring your attention completely back to your qi storage centre (dantian), an area located approximately half an inch (1.5cm) below your belly button. Then rub your palms against each other till you feel them warm, and perform the following tasks:

  1. Massage your exposed belly in a circular motion 49 times clockwise, and then 49 times counterclockwise;

  2. Gently massage your face;

  3. Sliding your index finger behind your ear with your other fingers on your cheeks, massage your ears up and down a few times;

  4. Gently tap your head all over.

By the time your mind reaches a powerful depth of concentration, your sense of discretion can be so sharp that even the sound of a needle dropping on the floor to you would be like a loud clap of thunder. As you become so mindful of your external environment, you also acquire needle-sharp awareness of the internal sensations, such as itching and throbbing under the skin as the result of unhindered flow of blood and qi. You may see dazzling light within your head, or strange images popping up out of nowhere. Just ignore them. Once you have gained mastery over your mind, they won’t bother you again.

Eventually, your qi will be pure enough to reflect the true nature of reality. Then all of a sudden, your thinking stops, and you experience an utter emptiness of your mind, while your heart opening itself to the light and beyond that cannot be described with defining concepts.

Now the question is, are you ready to "let go"? If you are, you can follow the steps described below to begin your journey of Inner Shaolin Kung Fu training:

Inner Kung Fu Training

Step One, Harness Your Qi (养气).

For most people who have never undertaken any physical training, their qi is either too weak (qixu 气虚: qi is dominated by yin), or too solid (qishi 气实: qi is overwhelmed with yang). People with weak qi lack vitality that results in poor health. And those with solid qi often appear robust, but it doesn’t mean they are strong, quite opposite in fact, as any work that involves physical effort would leave them white-lipped, ashen-faced and short breathed. It is because the flow of their blood and qi is rather turbulent.

Following are two methods to harness your qi and balance its yin-yang aspects.

If you have weak qi, try this:

Lifting Qi Up (弥陀登天立足法):

  • Choose a well-ventilated location either outside or indoor. Calm your mind and relax your body. Spread your feet to shoulder-width. Keep your back straight and head erect, looking forward. Close your mouth and place the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth just behind your front teeth. Place your hands at your waist with thumbs behind your back and the rest of the fingers pointing forward.

  • Exhale deeply three times to get rid of old qi. Then inhale slowly and deeply towards your dantian, in the mean time, lifting your heels from the ground. Then slowly breathe out while gently letting heels down on the ground.

  • For a beginner, repeat this routine 49 times each session. Once you get accustomed to the process, you can increase the amount of exercise accordingly to intensify your training.

If you have solid qi, try this:

Press Qi Down (立地成佛沉气法)

  • In a horse-standing posture, fold your palms together and put the fingers under the tip of your nose. You can concentrate on your breath, fix your attention on your dantian, or visualise the image of Buddha. The point is to provide a tangible single focus so that it’s easy for you to eliminate all other thoughts.

  • When you finish the session, massage your exposed belly and your face, and tap your head all over.

Suggested length is 2 hours for each session. Of course the more time you put in, the better the results will be.

Step Two, Guide Your Qi (调气)

Once your qi grows strong and is in a good yin-yang balance, you can then learn how to take control of its movement.

Method 1, Hold Your Breath (闭息法) – practicing during warm up stage

  • Choose a well-ventilated location either outside or indoor. You may use either sitting or standing posture.

  • Exhale deeply three times to get rid of old qi, then inhale three times towards your dantian. Repeat this process a dozen times.

  • Inhale completely, and when your lungs are full, hold your breath for as long as you can. Then spew out the qi with a loud sound "Phoo", and immediately hold the breath again. Repeat the process as many times as you like. The more time you repeat it, the better the result will be.

The method above can do wonder to refresh the qi and regulate its movement in your body.

Method 2, Catch Your Breath (运使法) – practicing during Qinggong training session

  • Keep your body movement slow and smooth, and let your breath follow the rhythm of the movement.

  • When stretching your arms and legs, try to spread them as wide as possible. At the same time, imagine you’re breathing out towards the centre of your palms (corresponding to tiankong 天空, Hollow in the Sky,), the middle of your heels (corresponding to dikong 地空, Hollow on the Earth,) and the top of your head (corresponding to tianji 天极, the Pole of Heaven,).

  • When retracting your arms and legs, contract your back and stomach muscles. At the same time, inhale deeply and slowly towards dantian.

After you have done the above training for some time, your mind and body will get accustomed to the technique. Keep practicing until you can maintain a smooth and even breath under whatever circumstance, and you can guide your qi to wherever you want it to be.

Training Manual Part Two - Outer Kung Fu
Training Manual Part Three - Hard Kung Fu


Copyright © 2005-2017