How many of you watched old Shaolin Movies? The training there was amazing wasn’t it?
The students and their masters somewhere in the mountains or a little hut in the forest and they just used whatever was lying around to form their body’s into deadly weapons.
For us, who are used to Gyms and proper protection when training these movies just struck a nerve.
Back to the basics, back to real life outside of the clubs and gyms.
But you train like that just in the movies right?
Nobody would still train like that?
Well…some things are just to good to give up. What worked for thousand years as training methods can’t be wrong can it?
And the Chinese Kung Fu Masters where incredibly creative with what they used to train their students. Often living either with the master as a deciple or in a monastery one couldn’t just train, but also had daily duties. So best combine those things with training.
Instead of buying expensive equipment, you just used what was around. Also often the different martial art schools were forbidden to practise and had to do so in secret. You had to come up with new training styles to hide the martial arts.
So let me show you some of the Unusual Training Methods of Kung Fu.
1. No knives? No worries!
Well one does not always need throwing knives to scare the shit out of somebody. A pair of chopsticks can be enough already.
If thrown with the proper power it even can penetrate wood. If you got the metal cooking chopsticks even better. Now I am just practising this skill myself, but this YouTube video explains how its done.
Otherwise if you have a partner, try deflecting your partners blow with chopsticks, aim for pressure points and try to numb the arm. They give you that extra length and it is easier to aim then with your finger. Do not go full-out, nobody wants a freaking chopstick stuck in their arms.
Stairs are the Martial Artists best friend. Running up they strengthen all of your leg muscles and are giving you a hell of a workout. Coming down they give you the best shoulder, arm and core workout. Wait?! Arm workout?
Yes, you will come down the stairs, head forward on your arms. Kinda looks a bit like the girl crawling down the stairs in the Exorcist 😉
At first you will have the feeling you are about to fall on your nose any second but you will get used to it fairly quickly and then it is just a whole body training. They still train like that in the Shaolin Temple.
Now this one obviously depends on what kind of work you are doing. But the idea is to do any chore with complete concentration and to challenge yourself to make it as good as possible. Means if you are sweeping, do it properly, if you are carrying heavy things do it to build up muscles and to protect your back, even if you are eating, how about doing so in Mabu (horsestance) for once.
When you are brushing your teeth you can do calfraises and when you are watching a movie you can do some stretches to increase your flexibility. Think about how you can incorporate training into your daily activities^^Instead of trying to make time for training in your life, make living your life your training! Click To Tweet
Well not everybody has a home gym and sometimes bodyweight exercises alone just won’t do. So what then? Use whatever you find at home. My Shifu loves his bricks.
Means one in each hand and then with Boxing Motions through the whole garden, I can promise you your arms are going to feel like they are about to fall off ;). Or maybe more Arm exercises, like Arm circling, lifting the bricks to the sides and whatever he can think of.
Sometimes we also use round stones, which are trash from where the made holes into the walls for the pipes. These we use to strengthen our fingers ,we have to throw them and then catch them.
So what if you want to condition yourself and you have nobody there to help you? Well no worries, grab a tree…yes punching and kicking a tree is considered a good workout. Around the temple you often will find threes wrapped with clothing or a bit of padding. So whether you have to get rid of emotional issues or you just want to make your body as hard as steel, a tree is a great trainings partner.
Arms, legs, shins, elbow, knee even fists, nothing you can’t use it for.
You want to challenge yourself to the perfect horsestance? Grab two bowls and fill them with water, if you are a pro grab five and somebody who can help you out. If Water sounds to risky any kind of long stick or two books will do too.
Now go into the horsestance, set the timer and place the bowls onto your knees or the stick over both of your legs. If you are insane and you found somebody to help you, spread your arms and put one bowl on top of each palm and the last one onto your head. Your legs have to be perfectly parallel to the ground.
Having something like this just gives a bit an extra challenge, this way you won’t just simply give up on your horsetance when it gets hard, but you are far more likely to hold it and to endure the shaking. Plus it looks super cool 😛
Or simply join Jake Mace on his challenge on Youtube. Ps. He also does have some great Kung Fu Training Videos on his channel, well worth checking out!
7. Punching Speed & Power
An old training method is to light a candle and try to punch so fast that you create enough wind to blow the candle out without touching it. Start first about 10cm away from the flame when your arm is extended. Throw straight punches and to make it a bit more a workout go into the horstance while doing so. If you manage to blow out the candle increase the distance step by step.
8.Crossfit & Parkour
Both of these are awesome to train the whole body as one. Parkour is as old as there is Martial Arts, in the end it is nothing else but finding the best and fastest way between two points. Anybody who can easily take obstacles has the advantage in a fight as they are naturally better with dodging as well as they usually have a much better body control and lightness.
Crossfit on the other hand trains your whole body with strong moves. Weather it is jumps or actually pushing a huge wheel around, the whole body gets trained, not like in the gym where muscles get trained separately. Never go for that if you are serious about martial arts.
You have to train how to use all of your body as a whole,to not just become strong, but also fast and flexible. Means go for a run in the city, better in the forest, straight through, away from the roads, jump over, roll under, carry a tree trunk, roll it, push-ups against the tree…just be creative and use whatever you find.^^ Make the world your playground 😉
Some people are able to hurt you when they grip your hands. To train this there are several exercises for speed as well as for strength. One is filling a bag with clay or wet earth and letting it dry to harden. Now draw circles on the bag and poke one of them with your fingers until you leave a dent, keep on moving to the next circle and so on.
Other exercises are striking cotton balls for speed. Hang up some cotton balls and poke at them from all kind of ankles, try to do this as fast as possible. Small tree twigs can be used for that too.
Also coin picking gets you speed. Put about 50 coins on a table and try to pick them up, as
fast as possible.
Next to finger push ups to strengthen them and get tennis balls or even a freaking potato, whatever you got lying around and do gripping exercises. These can be done when you watch a movie or whenever...all of these little things add up to not just fast, but also strong hands, so if you have to poke somebody in the eye you won’t break your finger 😉
So that’s it for now.
I might make a second post when I remember something different or get to know about some cool training method. If you have any other unusual training methods of Kung Fu or any other cool ideas feel free to share them here, I’d love to hear about them.
If you would like to have a tutorial, training video or details about any of the above, feel free to drop a comment and I will see what I can do 😉
If this all sounds like loads of fun to you and you would love to train Shaolin Kung Fu, how about coming to China to train? Join one of the hunderts of Kung Fu Schools and try it out by yourself. The teachers might not train you like in the movies anymore, but there are many still resorting to the old methods. Some of the points above came from training we did here. I am currently training in Maling Kung Fu Academy and will stay here for another 9 months. It is a great school for people with a sirious passion, who are not fans of huge schools and like it a bit more like family.
Have a lovely Day and keep rocking 😉