Shaolin kung fu is a Chinese martial art that was studied in Chinese temples from around 500 A.D. until the destruction of the temples in the early 1920s. While the term "kung fu" technically refers to any martial art coming from China, the Shaolin style specifically has a greater focus on spirituality, meditation and personal growth because of its origins and evolution in places of worship. It takes years of effort to master Shaolin kung fu and therefore it is recommended to you find a good school to train in it. However, you can learn various Shaolin techniques online to save money.
Things You'll Need
- Protective mat
- Heavy bag
- Training partner
Set up a training area. You will need plenty of space to practice Shaolin kung fu safely. Clear out a large area of a room and remove all furniture accept a place for your computer. Have a mirror on one wall so you can watch your own movements and lay a protective mat on the floor.
Stretch before beginning any martial arts exercises. Shaolin kung fu relies on flexibility and fluidity of movement so you need to stretch for at least 10 minutes prior to starting a training session. The mat will help keep you comfortable and prevent injury as you do this.
Learn Shaolin stances first. Locate proper stances from kung fu websites or from video streaming sites such as YouTube or Daily Motion. Shaolin techniques borrow a lot of motions and stances from the animal kingdom so you'll be starting with techniques like the horse stance. Stand with your feet facing straight in front of you about shoulder-width apart or wider while your knees are bent outward. Hold this stance with your back straight to strengthen both your legs and back.
Practice movement from the Shaolin stances once you are accustomed to taking a stance and holding it comfortably. Use online videos to guide you and watch the mirror to compare your movement to the one in the videos you use. Many Shaolin techniques are based on avoiding an attack so proper footwork and timing of movement is very important and should be practiced for at least an hour a day.
Add punches and blocks to your arsenal next after you are comfortable with taking various stances and moving fluidly from one stance to another. Review online tutorials on proper punching and blocking procedure to prevent injury to yourself. Add a heavy bag to your training area if you can so you can practice on an actual target. Breathing and balance are vital to Shaolin punches and blocks so pay attention to that element as well and not just the action of the arm or the fist. Kicks can be focused on once you are comfortable with punches.
Use a sparring partner to rehearse attack defenses as shown in the online tutorials. Shaolin kung fu is all about taking the energy an attacker gives you and redirecting it back to him, so a sparring partner is vital. Only practice at quarter or half speed initially to reduce the risk of injury. Stay focused on your breathing since you may forget to breathe properly when working with an actual person, which will hamper the effectiveness of your technique.
Tips & Warnings
- Always trim your finger and toe nails when working with a sparring partner to reduce the risk of cuts.
- Training yourself via online tutorials cannot give you the same experience as an experienced instructor can. Locate a school near you as soon as you are able to do so.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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