Secret Shaolin training tools

Shaolin conditioning secrets

Many of the modern equipment that is used nowadays (bodybuilding, MMA, other sport, etc.) often have correspondents in the ancient methods of body conditioning of Shaolin monks (read Physical conditioning: how it works).

The reason is that in the temple of Shaolin, the monks spent whole days, whole lives training and thinking on how to achieve the maximum possible psychophysical efficiency. It should not be astonishing that, in some case, equipment old thousands of years looks so much similar to (or are copied by) the most advanced training methodologies.

A note by Master Kongling – It is interesting to notice that even the Karate’s Hojo-Undo practices were originated from Chinese hard Qi Gong (read /// Subscribe (it's free!) or Login to see this content ///) and iron body methods (read for example Iron palm conditioning).

The secret Shaolin conditioning tools

Let’s see some of these tools:

  • Stone Mallet – In 6 Dragons Kung Fu, we call it the “T” weight (read The “T” weight: an exercise to master weapons), it is a wooden stick with a flatten circular stone on its extremity; useful to strengthen and make more flexible the wrists, it is perfect to condition the practitioner to manage heavy weapons
  • Water jar (eagle claw power arts) – It is a jar full of water with an opening suitable for gripping, it has also a small hole on the bottom (from which the water slowly comes out, forcing the practitioner to complete the transport of water before it is dispersed); it is a finger strength conditioning
  • Stone lock (Shi-Suo Gong) – It is a weight made of stone or metal with an ample opening to allow the hand to grab it (also performed by the military officers of the Chinese imperial army); it is used to strengthen the arms and the shoulders with fast / explosive upsurges (at an advanced level even grabbing it on the fly)
  • Iron rings – They are metal weights forged as rings; they are good training for arms’ power, speed, standing stamina and to develop fa jing
  • Iron pen – It is a heavy / big cylindrical pen made of metal (brass); it is used to strengthen the fingertips for the Chin Na practice (read Chin Na)
  • Metal brush – It is a brush with metal bristles (there is also a wooden massage version to reactivate the blood circulation); used to hit the body, it’s a starting point for iron body conditioning
  • Iron bag – It is a bag (made of lightweight durable canvas) with granular material inside (rice, beans, steel shots, sand, etc.); it is part of the development of the iron palm skill (read Hands conditioning: first approach with a bag of rice) and it is also used as a throwing tool for dynamic grab conditioning (with a gradually increasing weight)
  • Wrist curler exerciser – It is a pot filled with water, metal shots (or other kinds of weights) connected to a small stick by a twine / cord; with a two-handed grip on the stick the practitioner rewinds the rope (this increment the power of wrists improving the torsion that we can express squeezing something with the hands)
  • Iron balls – These are 2-3 heavy balls (made of marble, steel, etc.); they are used to build fingers dexterity

A note by Master Knongling – Let’s do not try to use these tools without knowing what we are doing or with an expert instructor. The risk of injury or chronic damages is very high: these are not training for beginners and without the right indications they can be more than counterproductive. In order to learn to use these conditioning methods, it is not only necessary to follow a specific course (see for example Hand grip strength conditioning) but also to have a basic martial preparation (see Basic 6 Dragons Kung Fu Exercises).

Those listed are just some of the ancient instruments of Shaolin monks: in the next article of this series, we will see other training tools and how to implement each of them.

In-depth articles

Special thanks


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