Comprised of a variety of traditional Chinese martial arts and wushu techniques, Shaolin Kung Fu combines more than 900 forms of northern and southern fighting techniques in one comprehensive system. While practically every martial art has the benefit of developing the body through a consistent exercise routine, the great lineage of Shaolin Kung Fu and the sheer vastness of forms and techniques offers traditional Shaolin practitioners a wealth of benefits.
Perhaps the most easily discernible benefit of regular Shaolin Kung Fu practice is increased muscle strength and endurance. Traditional Shaolin classes begin with an exercise regimen established to tone the basic muscles utilized in fighting postures and forms: leg muscles, arm muscles and core strength. The basic horse stance and bow stance utilized in most Shaolin forms were specifically designed to strengthen the quadriceps while placing the combatant in an ideal position for blocking and striking. While most classes begin with basic sets of sit-ups and push-ups, the Shaolin forms themselves effectively strengthen the abdominal and arm muscles throughout their sequences: from the repetitive strikes and punches of the Tiger form to the fluid hip rotations of Mantis techniques.
Though typically developed alongside muscle toning, flexibility increases at a considerable rate during regular Shaolin Kung Fu practice. While the traditional forms and postures were developed primarily to instruct martial artists in the optimal body positions for fighting an opponent, the frequent punches, kicks and hip pivoting motions effectively stretch out the entire body. Every time a Shaolin practitioner executes a kick or punch he is stretching specific muscles that, when performed regularly, greatly increase overall flexibility of the body’s muscles. In addition to the athletic benefits of the Shaolin forms, the monks also developed specific stretching techniques for increasing flexibility in different muscle groups throughout the body.
Discipline and Self-Confidence
One of the key benefits of studying Shaolin Kung Fu that sets it apart from some other martial arts is the requirement of discipline and steadfast training. When examining the handful of Elder Masters who have risen to the eighth degree black belt in Shaolin Kung Fu, you quickly notice that each student began learning Shaolin in the 1960s or 70s. Advancement through the ranks of traditional Shaolin requires a lifelong dedication that far surpasses those martial arts systems wherein a black belt can be achieved in less than a year or two of study. One of the benefits of learning Shaolin Kung Fu, however, is that there is always more to learn: up to 900 forms, according to the current Shaolin Grandmaster Sin Kwang. By dedicating yourself to a regular training regimen Shaolin Kung Fu, your discipline and self-confidence in other areas of your life will also begin to materialize, allowing you to utilize the principles you learn in your martial arts training to all the facets of your life.