We have all probably heard about the Shaolin monks. Many have watched films about them, and someone perhaps even visited the famous Shaolin Temple. The image of a fearless warrior in an orange kimono is firmly entrenched in popular culture. But what do we really know about Shaolin monks? There are so many legends surrounding them. For example, one of them says that monks can fly and are not afraid of bullets. It’s time to find out what these guys are really capable of. Let’s get it on.
Remember how in childhood, you played football with your friends. And after an unsuccessful kick, the ball flew right towards the neighbor’s window. The whole team gasped in anticipation of the sound of broken glass, but the glass pane remained intact. Phew! Okay. But if the glass didn’t break after it was hit by quite a heavy ball, how do you explain this? Well, take a look. Shifu Shi Yan Xiu throws the needle with such force, that it breaks the glass and pops the balloon. Maybe the secret lies in these mysterious hand movements or the battle cry he makes. Some skeptics claim that the glass had the hole beforehand and the balloon was popped by the guy holding it. But let’s not speculate and find the answer with the help of science. James Sethna, a theoretical physicist from Cornell University, will find out whether Shi Yan Xiu is really that strong or if he’s just tricking us all. According to the scientist, glass is a fairly strong material and it’s not that easy to break it. Unless there are cracks in it. Due to its special chemical structure, any micro damage makes the glass extremely fragile. Now you understand why the monk needed several attempts. According to Sethna, once a deep crack has been made, it won’t take much force at all to carry it the rest of the way through. Kung fu rules.
RUNNING ON WATER
Every morning starts the same way. You take a shower, do exercises, make breakfast. Is this what you call a daily routine? Next time think about Shaolin monks. For several years, they devote every day to the same exercise. Could you practice the same punch for three years in a row from dusk till dawn? The monks believe that this approach allows you to achieve results that may seem incredible to an ordinary person. Just look at the skills of Shi Liliang. This guy spent 10 years learning how to run on water. Wait, do you hear that? All the physicists in the world are laughing now. But Shi Liliang does not care. He’s been practicing walking on water for the past 10 years. The monk confidently approaches the bank of the river in the Fujian Province, which is by the way 125 metres wide, picks up speed and reaches the other bank in less than a minute. Shi broke his previous record of 118 meters across a reservoir, in 2014. But he runs on the planks you might say. Everyone can do this. Hardly so. The planks are very light and quickly sink even under the weight of a small stone. So, the whole secret is in fast movements and a perfect sense of balance. You can try to repeat this trick. Just don’t forget to share in the comments whether you succeeded or not.
If you love movies about kung fu, learn to do finger push-ups and are watching this video right now, then you’re probably determined to join the ranks of the Shaolin monks. Take it slow, though. You should know what challenges await you. First, choose your style. How about a monkey style? Rolls? Jumps? Grabs? Looks pretty impressive and it’s probably effective in battle. If you’ve already learned a couple of moves, repeating after Bruce Lee. You have to know, in the monastery, you will have to take an exam. Yes. Studying is a key element in Shaolin. You’ll probably have to study a lot here. After many years of diligent training, you will need to prove your skills to the masters of the temple. Do you know what the main element of the monkey style is? This move is called monkey going up the tree. One of the most difficult ones in kung fu. You need to place your feet on an almost vertical stick, hold on to it for several seconds without using your hands and then jump off and prevent the stick from falling to the ground. Can you handle that? Let’s just say that the guy that you see on the screen, spent 11 years practicing this move. Yeah, we almost forgot to mention, the exam also includes reciting a passage from Buddhist scriptures from memory. The masters can choose any passage from the 200-page book. So, the monks will have to memorize the entire book. Still want to go to Shaolin?
HEAD VERSUS A STEEL BAR
Let’s be honest, each of us has once tried to repeat some move from the arsenal of Buddhist monks. When no one was at home in front of the mirror, we pretended to be a crouching tiger or a hidden dragon or took a single leg stance. Don’t forget about meditation either. After all, it’s also a part of Shaolin training. But now, you’ll see a technique that we definitely don’t recommend to repeat at home. Unless you put on two hats and a construction helmet on top of that. However, we think no one would probably want to repeat this. Take a look at what this monk is doing. He breaks a 30-centimeter steel bar over his head. Quick, someone bring a Tylenol and call a doctor. But calm down a bit. The monks claim that hitting the head with a piece of iron does not cause them any pain or injury. According to them, they simply know how to focus the body’s energy in the right point, which then breaks the bar. Some can say that it’s half cuts although the trick is in low quality steel. But guys, it hurts even when we get hit by a rubber ball. So, give the monks some credit.
Of course, Shaolin monks don’t have any supernatural powers, contrary to what some films try to tell. Well, who in the 21st century would believe that? Much of their skill can be attributed to regular exhausting workouts, daily exercises that push you to your limit, can work wonders. Even if the tricks that seem to be supernatural can be explained by science. And while we agree that we have no idea how to explain what’s happening on the screen right now, this guy bends spears with his neck as if they were cocktail straws. Any guesses how he does that? You don’t have to speculate, you’ll see now. While the monk continues to hold the spears with his neck, his friend places a concrete block on his back and breaks it with a sledgehammer. Injuries, scratches, none. It looks like these guys have some secrets indeed.
TOUCH OF DEATH
Remember how Uma Thurman’s character eventually managed to kill Bill. During the final battle, Beatrix, who is a master of kung fu, strikes Bill with a five-point palm exploding heart technique. Good thing this is just fiction, right? Well, we’ve got some bad news for you. It looks like this is not fiction after all. And some kung fu masters know this technique. The touch of death technique aka Dim Mak, actually exists in many martial arts. Some masters argue that applying light pressure on the desired points on the body, is enough to kill a person instantly or at least in a couple of days. Admit it. It sounds more like a horror story for kids. This man is not a robot. So, you can’t just turn him off by pressing a button. Let’s see what medicine has to say about that. Chinese healing practices confirm that our body has areas related to the work of internal organs. Therapeutic massage and acupuncture are based on that principle. And if these points can be used to improve health, the opposite must be true as well. Of course, Dim Mak is hardly deadly, but it can inflict terrible pain. So, don’t mess with those who threaten to beat you with one finger.
SYNCHRONIZED KUNG FU
Still not tired of sitting at the monitor, surely your back and neck feel numb by now and it wouldn’t hurt to stretch your legs, right? Well, get your sneakers out the closet, put on your jersey and start warming up. We’re heading to China to join a Shaolin kung fu training session. Well, okay. Let’s at least admire this show from the comforts of our homes. The video you see now is captured with the help of a satellite. Admit it. This looks incredible. Several thousand people train on this square at the same time and each movement is precise. Keep in mind that these guys are still newbies too. Imagine what they could do when they become masters. These guys move in sync with incredible precision. Maybe each of them has a small speaker in their ear and they listen to the commands. Hardly so. As you might have guessed already, the trick is in exhausting daily workouts. Perhaps it’s good that we didn’t take part in this show. We could have easily ruined this perfect harmony.
Okay. Apparently, we have to admit that Shaolin monks really do have a unique training routine. And few people in the world can compare to them. Their bodies are hardened by training. They’re fast, agile and at the same time, incredibly strong. In addition, monks possess the unbending will and utmost concentration. And don’t forget weapons mastery and insensitivity to pain. Oh yes. These guys also mastered parkour. No kidding. A wall which an ordinary person can’t even climb, is no obstacle for a Shaolin monk. He just runs on it. By the way, take a closer look. What is this monk holding on to? The wall is completely flat. Seems that monks will never stop surprising us.
Let’s think for a second. Is it possible to train like Shaolin warriors without having to live in a monastery? Okay Google. Find training regimen of monks. The internet will surely offer you hundreds of programs that include kung fu moments, exercises and watching a fly sitting on a window for five hours straight. Forget it all, though. We have secret footage that reveals the main secret of the monk’s training. Do you want to become invincible? You just need to climb downstairs on all fours. We don’t presume that this method is 100% working but these guys use it anyway. At first glance it seems that such a workout although bizarre, is not that challenging. However, knowing the nature of the Shaolin monks, we think that the staircase could be a couple of kilometers long.
ONE FINGER STAND
We’re certain that many of you have extremely stressful days, when a lot of different things are piling up. From the very morning, you have tons of stuff to do. And by the evening you’re completely exhausted. During days like this, an ordinary person feels like lying on a sofa or relaxing in an armchair. But a Shaolin monk named Shi Liliang, has another idea of resting. He loves standing upside down, supported by only one finger, which bears the weight of the entire body. But seriously though, 30-year-old Shi is one of the few people in the world who can do this stand. Don’t try to check if you’re one of them, though. Otherwise you’ll probably end up with a broken finger. In this video, Shi Liliang performs an incredible one finger stand, in the [inaudible] Mountain, during China’s national holiday. And you can see that even for a trained master, this is not an easy thing to do. By the way, what will the skeptics say about this? That it’s a fake finger or that gravity’s been reduced to a minimum in this zone? Let’s just admit that Shi Liliang is incredibly cool.
Guys, after watching so many videos about Shaolin monks, you just have to learn some amazing techniques. Now, we will reveal for you the secret of a formidable weapon that sends the enemy straight into the underworld. Yep, we’re talking about the famous wooshy finger hold. Memorize it, write it or save it on a flash drive. To master this technique, you only need to do the exercise this guy does, twice a day. What? You thought that saying [inaudible] should be enough? No, this’ll take some work. Okay. You can start with push-ups using all of your fingers. Two-finger push-ups of a seasoned Shaolin warriors. Don’t pay attention to the guys in the background, though. This is how they rest in a Buddhist monastery between training sessions.
So, you have a training program, now? So, only one question remains. Why are these guys boxing with gloves on when they can fight using their fingers?
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