I’ve been interested in the latest research done by scientists who want to discover how to slow the ageing process down. What they have discovered is that we all age at different rates. One of the ways in which they calculate what they call “ageing scores” is by testing how well the organs are functioning. Those with the highest score have the best organ function and are the least likely to die.
This demonstrates how important our organs are. We notice ageing of our skin but we never think about our internal organs until something goes wrong. Shaolin Qigong is the only exercise I know that stretches and exercises the internal organs. Kung Fu doesn’t do this, yoga doesn’t do this, and meditation doesn’t do this. Aerobic exercise does use the heart but what about the kidneys, liver, gall bladder etc?
Keeping our body strong internally is one of the keys to keeping our mind strong and living well into old age. It’s optimal to keep up a regular practice of at least three times a week. And finish with the Instant Health Massage. The Instant Health Massage is a way of sustaining the energy from our Qigong and clearing any blockages from the body.
As we progress, we move onto massaging with the metal brush. The vibration from this brush is so deep that it cleanses the very marrow of our bones. Red blood cells are produced by bone marrow. It is believed that using the metal brush, cleanses the marrow and this creates new blood cells so that even our blood doesn’t age.
I am in awe of the wisdom passed down from our Shaolin Ancestors. Their desire for a long life was so they could have more time to attain enlightenment. Their motivation was pure. They wanted nothing more than to help all beings find peace in their life. Each time we practice Shaolin Qigong, we connect with their wisdom and enter the path of peace and longevity.
The world of Western traditional physical exercise is beginning to catch up with what Shaolin Warriors have known for thousands of years. Fitness is not just about burning calories and sweating. It’s about being healthy from the inside out. Research is revealing that this mind-body fitness not only keeps us healthy but also greatly helps to banish stress, increase happiness, and aid longevity.
Train Your Mind As Hard As Your Body – A person can look strong but this doesn’t mean they’re healthy. Body builders may be inflexible and internally weak. Yoga practioners may be flexible but ask him or her to perform a martial art’s kick and they have no power or speed. Shaolin Forms – both Qigong and Kung Fu – are the only exercise I’ve come across where every muscle is engaged and we’re simultaneously building flexibility, strength, endurance, balance, and power. They then teach us how to move in our modern life, whether that’s carrying our groceries home or climbing the stairs to the subway. Everything becomes part of our training: total mind-body wellness
Switch Your Workouts – One day Shaolin Warrior’s train in the Five Fundamental kicks and stances from Shaolin Kung Fu Workout 1, on another day they train Circuit, on another bag work, and on another day Qigong. Keep surprising your body so it never reaches a plateau.
Inside Out Fitness – For true health and fitness we need to practise stretching and Qigong. The Shaolin Warrior always finishes their training with Qigong. This enhances the power of their external training, extends and deepens their martial arts, and balances their Yin and Yang.
Effortless Effort – A Shaolin Warrior’s movements look easy. When they run they tell their body to keep light and positive. When they punch they tell their body to relax. When they kick, they know exactly which muscle they need to use and which muscle they don’t. When they practise Qigong they know when they need to inhale and when they need to exhale. They focus on what they need to focus on and this gives them confidence and power. They understand that if their mind is strong then their body is strong and if their body is strong then their mind is strong. It’s not possible to separate the two out.
Train Hard – A smith puts gold through the fire so she can mould it into the shape of jewelry she wants. Our martial art’s is the fire we put our mind and body through so we can mould ourselves into the martial artist we want to be. If it’s not difficult, if it’s not challenging, there can be no transformation.
A Zen Koan – Shaolin Warriors use the breath to link the mind and body. They focus on the present moment because it is the only moment when we can be truly alive. This is why – in the past – Masters sometimes used shock tactics or said Koans in an attempt to awaken their student to what life really is.
What is the sound of one hand clapping? – If we try to understand with our intellect then we’ll never understand and if we try to do martial arts with our intellect we shall never understand. Only when we have cultivated strong willpower and let go of our mind can we move to hard training to build up our stamina level and create a Shaolin Warrior’s mind and body.
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Learn Shaolin Qigong and Kung Fu with Shifu Yan Lei. Downloads, DVDs, books and training equipment available from shifuyanlei.com. Instant Health: The Shaolin Qigong Workout For Longevity is also available as an e-book on amazon and apple in the US
If I were only allowed to do one exercise to improve the health of my mind and body I would choose Shaolin Qigong. When I was younger my focus was on Iron Shirt Qigong, partly because it was useful in a combat situation, partly because I wanted to push my limits, and partly because – although I probably shouldn’t admit this – I wasn’t so sure there was a thing called Qi. When I came to the UK, a scientist from Nottingham University investigated my Iron Shirt Qigong. He usually tests the impact of car accidents on crash test dummies. He was surprised by what my body was doing when a brick was hitting it. He confirmed in scientific terms what my master had taught me. When we practice Iron Shirt Qigong, our Qi acts like a mirror, bouncing our opponent’s power back at us. Of course most of us are not fighters and we don’t find ourselves in combat situations so instead of using our Qi to protect ourselves from a brick, we can use Qigong to protect ourselves against ageing and ill health.
How many of us think about our liver or kidney or heart? It’s only when we get older and we have problems that we realize how important they are. A strong and healthy body can only be strong from the inside out. Qigong is the only exercise I know which oxygenates our internal organs, refreshing the supply of blood, removing internal blockages and turning back the clock. There are many types of Shaolin Qigong. By the request of many of my students here’s a quick overview of the Qigong’s you can learn. Shaolin Qigong Forms8 Treasures Qigong – Instant Health: The Shaolin Qigong Workout & The Way Of Qigong Volume 1When the Bodhidharma came to the Shaolin Temple, he found the monks were weak from sitting in meditation all day so he devised a series of Qigong exercises to energize their brains, prolong their life and help them gain enlightenment. A monk chose eight of the most powerful movements and put them in this Qigong form. It’s easy to learn and can be very simply broken down. If you only learn one Qigong, learn this one! TRY THIS:Do one of the movements before you go to work. It will create not just Instant Health but Instant Calm. Your day will run smoothly.The Way Of Qigong Volume 2 This powerful sitting Qigong cleanses toxins from the body and purifies the brain and nervous system. If you are a serious Shaolin Qigong student you need to learn this after you’ve mastered 8 Treasures. Broken down into a few movements it’s great for people who are not fully mobile (it can be done from a chair) jet lag, insomnia, pregnant women (though don’t do the reverse breathing, stick to abdominal breathing). TRY THIS:Follow the DVD for 10 minutes before you go to sleep. Don’t do any longer than 10 minutes or it may energize you too much.The Way Of Qigong Volume 3 This cleanses the muscles, bones and tendons. It builds exceptional inner strength and focus. Shaolin Students progress to this form once they’ve learned Qigong 2. You will notice a vast difference in your martial art’s practice once you start to practice this form. TRY THIS: Do two sections before your kung fu workout and the rest of the form after and monitor how your kung fu workout was more powerful as a result.Qigong For Upper & Lower Body If you are under the age of 25, you may find Qigong boring so I suggest you practice this Qigong. It combines both internal and external training. It gives your muscles a lean and defined look. One student told me that he’d never sweated as much from standing still as when he followed these DVDs. It’s also good for older people as it strengthens their tendons and bones from the inside out (though they won’t be able to do the whole DVD, just a small section of it). This combination of DVDs is incredibly challenging. TRY THIS: Do Qigong for upper body one day and Qigong for lower body the next. Don’t expect to do the whole DVD in one go. Remember it’s quality that counts, not quantity. When we are frightened, it’s our body that reacts first then our mind takes its cue from our body. Whichever form you decide is for you, Qigong will have a deeply relaxing effect on your body. It unlocks the peace, strength, energy and focus that is already within you. It optimizes your mind and body so it’s always running at its peaceful peak. Sign up to Shifu’s newsletter and receive your free motivational tips. You can find Shifu’s DVDs, downloads and books at shifuyanlei.com
There’s an ancient Buddhist story about a wrestler who wore a precious jewel in his hair. During a match, he received a blow to his head. Without him realizing it, the jewel dropped into his wound. When the wound healed, the jewel was covered by a scar. Every day the wrestler looked for his jewel, never realizing that it was inside him all the time.
This is the same for all of us. Peace and enlightenment are not and never have been outside our mind. All we have to do to access this great peace is come back to our natural state of being.
Just as the wrestler lost his jewel through acts of violence. We lose connection with our natural peaceful state when we give into anger, aggression and other emotions that don’t increase our or other people’s happiness.
Modern life puts a strong focus on looking outwards at some future time when things will be better. What we want – whether that’s peace or a better life – is always out there and one step away. But what this teaching instructs is: we already are what we want to become. It’s already within us. If we look beneath our hurts, disappointments and wounds, we can rediscover our jewel.
Whenever I feel disconnected from myself or my mind is turbulent I practice Qigong or Rou Quan and it doesn’t take long before my mind goes back to its natural state of peace.
Daily practice of Qigong changes the neural pathways in our brain. The founder of Zen, Bodhidharma gave us a roadmap that shows us clearly how to use Shaolin Qigong and Kung Fu as a pathway to Zen. This spacious peaceful state of mind is not only reserved for Shaolin monks but for everyone, those of any religion and those of none.
Habit energy drags us down. So set yourself small reminders that you’re on the path of the Urban Shaolin Warrior. This can be uplifting pictures and quotes from people that inspire you or – like the Shaolin Monks do – wear a Jade amulet or mala so the reminder is with you all the time. And practice Shaolin at least four times a week, even if it’s just 5 minutes a day, this is much more beneficial than a long once a week practice. And don’t forget to share how you get on in the comments below or by tweeting me.
Instant Health: The Shaolin Qigong Workout is available as a book worldwide & in the USA & Canada an ebook on apple & amazon.
FromFriday 31st July 2015 – Friday 28th August 2015 I’ll be teaching a Shaolin Summer Camp in the Songshang Mountains, a few kilometers away from the Shaolin Temple in China. You’ll train like a Shaolin Monk in authentic Shaolin Kung Fu and Qigong, three times a day, 6 days a week. You can train for a minimum of two weeks or the whole month. The focus will be on training hard! This is not a holiday. Sample Schedule: Most of your training will be done outside. You will start the day with a run up the mountain then come back and do a kung fu session with the emphasis on strength and stamina training, you will then cool down with some Qigong. After you’ve finished training, breakfast will be served. This is usually steamed bread, congee, pickled vegetables and stir fried vegetables. After breakfast you’ll rest and we’ll start our training again mid-morning, with a focus on getting your form and techniques correct. Lunch will be served at 1pm. After lunch it’s advisable to sleep to help your body recover from the hard training. In the afternoon you’ll train for another 3 hours. At 6pm we’ll have dinner. Evenings will be spent reading or doing internal training such as Qigong or meditating. I will teach in English. Who Is Is Suitable For? Anyone over the age of 18 who has a passion for Shaolin. You MUST be a non-smoker and no alcohol is allowed during your stay. Do I have to be good at Kung Fu and Qigong? Beginner’s are welcome but to get the most out of our stay it’s good to have a basic fitness level and a grounding in kung fu. No matter what level you are, you’ll be training in a non-competitive friendly environment Weather: It’s usually between 30 – 36 so we train in the early morning before it gets hot, and we train inside when the weather is at it’s hottest. You need to bring lots of training clothes. Terrain: We are based amongst the mountains. You can see one of the areas where you’ll be training in this video. PRICE:£1000 for two weeks. ( about $1520.00 US dollars) £1500 for one month. ( about $2285.00 US Dollars). You can start your training in any of those weeks.
What You Get:1) 6 hours of training per day – This is a professional way to build up your internal and external strength. Training will be in Shaolin Kung Fu and Qigong. 2) Accommodation – You will stay in a shared room with one other person. The room has an en-suite bathroom and air conditioning. 3) Meals – All of your meals will be provided. This will be healthy, hearty, Chinese food, locally grown. Please let us know if you have any special dietary requirements, We will do our best to accommodate. What you need to provide: A valid passport and Chinese visa. Your flight to China and travel to the venue. Travel Insurance Training clothes, running shoes, training shoes, flip flops or sandals, and towels. Pocket money to buy water, and snacks. There will be the option of visiting the Shaolin Temple and the Bodhidharma Cave and you will need to pay the admission fee. Getting There: The nearest airport to Shaolin Temple is Zhengzhou. The nearest city is Dengfeng. There are regular flights from Beijing to Zhenghou, and it’s possible to book them on the day at the airport. We can arrange pick up and drop off at Zhengzhou airport. The price will be a maximum of £80.00 depending on the number of people. Once you register, we’ll try and put you with other people who are traveling to make the cost as low as possible. Address: China, Henan Province, Dengfeng City, Leijia Gou, Shaolin Temple International School. The venue is the blue dot on the map.Payment Details: Payment needs to be made by bank transfer. All payments must be made in full by 30th June. We can only accept currency in sterling pound. Cancellations for All Retreats: If you cancel 4 weeks before your arrival date, we will be happy to refund you but a cancellation fee of £100.00 will be charged plus £100.00 for the application form. If you cancel less than 4 weeks before your arrival date, there is a cancellation fee of 50% of the total contribution of your stay. If you cancel anytime in the week before your arrival date, there is no refund. Reserve Your Spot: We are a small group and places are limited so please book early. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Palmo will send you an application form, and a link to pay a non-refundable deposit of £100.00 which will be off-set from your training fee. She’s happy to answer any queries you may have.
My training day starts with either a 10 or 12k jog or interval running, sprinting 800 meters then resting for 800 meters and doing this 4 times or varying my runs like I show in my youtube video. I then do circuit training, the same as on my DVDs though I mix the punches and kicks together. It’s important to sweat when you’re training. Only this is true training. In the afternoon I do bag work, and pad work if there’s someone at the temple to hold pads. I finish off with Iron Shirt Qigong and combine Iron Shirt conditioning with the Instant Health Massage using a metal brush so that I cleanse my bones.
Can the average person hack Shaolin training?
Shaolin is for everybody. Of course the average person doesn’t have 4 hours a day to train but a lot can be accomplished in one hour five days a week. This is enough to be healthy and fit. If you’re not close to a school and train from my DVDs then all you need to do is define your goal and make a program. The best DVDs for fitness are the Bootcamp and Circuit Training DVDs but you need a level of fitness before you can embark on them. Like all things, take one step at a time. Most people have no desire to do hard Qigong but they have a desire to have more energy and increase their longevity so they do Eight Treasures.
You’ll talk about the Shaolin Monk’s diet in another post, but how important is diet to you?
The more you do Shaolin martial arts, the more you tune into your body and the harder it is to eat badly. If you’re craving unhealthy food, don’t worry about it, start working out the Shaolin way and the cravings will go away of their own accord. Before I train I eat a lot of noodle and vegetable with some meat then a banana, which is a great thing to eat before training as it helps to keep sugar levels up. We don’t use ovens in China but something new I’ve discovered in the West is roasted sweet potato. Very healthy and a better carbohydrate than potato. I eat fruit and nuts through out the day. I tend to cook two days food in advance so when I come home and I’m hungry my food is already prepared.
How focused are you on Buddhism and Zen meditation?
I’m a simple person. I feel that many Western people read too many books and this makes their mind complicated. My master gave me one sutra, The Hui Neng Sutra and he told me not to sit in meditation but to make training my meditation. Zen is about experience, not knowledge. When people do kung fu or Qigong forms, they get a taste of this Zen experience and then there are no questions. The important thing is not to look outside, but work with where you are and what you have here and now. There’s no need to go to the temple, the temple is right here and now. But you need to be still to find it.
It’s easy to feel sluggish at this time of year especially if you live in a country like here in the UK where it’s cold and grey. But you’re a Shaolin Warrior all year round so here’s my top five steps to keeping active and inspired over the winter months.
1. Get Moving
The more you sit in front of a computer, the less you will want to workout. At the end of your working day your body will tell you that it’s tired and give you another excuse to skip your workout. But if you can motivate yourself to push through your tiredness, once you begin to move, you’ll be surprised to find that you feel energized. This is because movement and exercise unleash your body’s energy. You are born to move. You are not born to sit all day. Your Shaolin Workout brings your body and mind in harmony. It’s only when your body and mind are working in harmony that you can feel truly energized and happy.
2. Use Your Shaolin Workout As A Refuge
We tend to be goal focused and driven in our work so it’s good to take the pressure off when it comes to your workouts. Use your workout as a time to tune out of your daily life and tune into your body. Each of your workouts gives your body a different experience. There is the challenging anaerobic training from the Kung Fu Workouts, and the internal balancing Qigong Workout. As you move through these different workouts be aware of the different energy-producing states and what effect they have on your mind and body. What do you feel when starting the workout? How do you feel when you’ve finished?
3. Be Your Best Friend
The Buddha said that it is our mind which makes the world. When I was young boy at the temple I had the arrogance to disagree with the Buddha and think he was wrong! But now I realize that he is exactly right. We can be in the most beautiful place in the world but if our minds are angry or depressed then we can’t appreciate it. Our life is created by our thoughts. Thoughts can be trained just like muscles. Thoughts are energy so be aware of whether your thoughts are bringing you positive Qi or negative Qi. Tune into the positive and let go of the negative.
4. Wear Jade
If you spend most of your time in front of the computer then balance this out by wearing jade. Alongside Qigong, jade has been used for thousands of years in China as a powerful longevity tool. I know that the West doesn’t have this tradition but the Chinese believe that jade is a living thing that can give us positive Qi. Not only the stone itself but also the carving. When I’m not training I wear a jade Guan Yin. Authentic Jade is from the earth, it contains a life force of its own. But you don’t need to have blind belief. If you stand by a waterfall or on top of a mountain, you will feel very different than if you sit at your computer. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that a computer does not give us longevity energy!
5. Take One Step Today
These are four simple steps to increase your energy. Take one step each week and then by the end of the month you will have taken all of the steps. Remember, when you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur.
A house can only stay strong with good foundations. It’s the same with your kung fu. The movements in Shaolin Workout Volume 1 are your foundation. If you were to get on a plane and study at the Shaolin Temple in China, these are the movements you would learn.
These exercises were created thousands of years ago so why do Shaolin Monks still study them? Because they’re the only movements where every muscle is engaged and you’re simultaneously building flexibility, strength, endurance, balance, and power in one fully integrated unit. They then teach you how to move in your modern life, whether that’s carrying your groceries home or climbing the stairs to the subway. Everything becomes part of your training: total mind-body wellness.
The tools you need for total- mind body wellness are the same tools you need as a Shaolin martial artist.
Stamina – Shaolin stamina training consists of short bursts of intense exercise. Research has shown that it’s one of the most effective ways to build fitness levels and lose weight.
Flexibility – Shaolin Monks stretch the whole body from the neck down and include dynamic stretching as well as static.
The Five Fundamental Kicks – These kicks are one of the reasons Shaolin Monks are so flexible. Don’t underestimate them. They open the hips at the same time as stretching the leg. (I practiced hundreds of them every day as a boy at the temple and still practice them today. They are a great warm up for fighting kicks and bag work.)
The Five Fundamental Stances – Stances work the legs as hard as any squat or lunge and there’s a purpose to them, self-defence, internal and external strength, as well as acting as a gateway to the forms.
Traditional Combinations – These ancient forms come from nature. They awaken the body, helping us to let go of our small self and experience a connection with the very fabric of the Universe. They bring us closer to the meditation experience of Zen.
We call it the Shaolin Workout but we could call it the Zen Shaolin Workout because all of the movements are done with your heart and mind fully engaged. If you’ve been training with my DVDs and downloads for many years, always remember to go back to Shaolin Workout Volume 1 and go through the fundamentals of your training.
If you’re just starting out then do Shaolin Workout Volume 1 for about 6 weeks before moving onto the next one. Don’t get too comfortable. It’s imperative to vary your routine. Once you know the moves and you can go through the workout then work with Volume 2 and Volume 3 so your weekly warrior training will look like this: Monday – Workout 1. Tuesday – Workout 2. Wednesday – Workout 3. Thursday – Workout 1 . Friday – Workout 2 or 3. Saturday – Self-training without the DVDs.
The training is designed to transform you into a martial artist. This means you become fighting fit, flexible, have strong willpower, inner confidence, sharp reflexes, peaceful sleep, an abundance of energy, look younger than your years, and there is a glow to your skin and eyes.
When the Bodhidharma arrived at The Shaolin Temple he found the monks were weak from sitting meditation so he developed a unique system of exercises called Qigong to energize the monks and help them gain enlightenment. Hundreds of years later, a Shaolin monk took the eight most effective movements. This is the Qigong I teach in The Way Of Qigong Volume 1 and Instant Health: The Shaolin Qigong Workout For Longevity.
While you may not want to become enlightened, you can use this simple but effective system to prevent illness, turn back the clock, have more energy, and – if you’re a martial artist – increase your martial power. Most people who do intensive exercise ( for example professional footballers, Olympic athletes) age rapidly and burn out when they’re in their thirties. I’m 41, and I still train as intensively as I did when I came to the Shaolin Temple at 13. Why do I not burn out? Because I practice Qigong.
If you’re training for health then you only need to learn the 8 Treasures Qigong. But if you’re a martial artist then you need to learn the most famous Qigong forms that come from the Shaolin Temple; Xi Sui Jing and Ee Jin Gong. I teach these in The Way Of Qigong Volume 2 and 3. Ee Jin purifies the muscles and tendons and Xi Sui purifies the bone marrow. Shaolin monks have trained in these two forms for thousands of years and they continue to train in these forms because they know that this Qigong enables them to be the best at kung fu.Qigong takes you to the peak of your power.
YourBlueprint For Health
Qigong is not a secret. It just takes practice. Day by day, moment-by-moment you are building your blueprint for health. You know if you’re doing it correctly because you will:
1. Look noticeably younger
2. Have clearer skin
3. Feel calmer
4. Enter the flow more easily each time you practice
5. Feel energized after the practice even if you felt tired when you began
6. Feel a noticeable difference in your recovery time after your workout
7. Be faster and more powerful in your chosen martial art.
The Way Of Qigong Volume 1,2, 3 are not only safe but powerful. Even if done incorrectly, they can’t harm the body; it just means they become little more than a stretching exercise.
High Intensity Training (HIT) is the best way to torch fat, build lean muscle, and boost your metabolism. Research has shown that it reduces our appetite and continues to help us lose weight after our training session. But what does this mean for the martial artist? And should we change the way we train? When my muscles were tested by scientists. There were rated highly in both short intensity and long endurance stamina. This is because a martial artist needs both. We’re not training purely for exercise or to lose weight, we’re training to hone our skills. Want powerful kicks or punches? Work on stamina first then flexibility then speed then power. Don’t underestimate how important stamina is for the martial artist. Without stamina, no skill.
Build Stamina & Skill In 6 Easy Steps
Start your training session with a run. This is your long endurance stamina.
After your run, begin your HIT training. This is your short intensity training. I teach HIT training in my Shaolin Circuit Training DVDs . You can do HIT training with a bag, pads, or sparring with a partner.
Challenge the large muscles in your upper and lower body. This is the key to successful HIT training. (if you’re doing bag/ pad training you need to combine exercises from my Circuit Training DVDs).
Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone. It’s the only way to improve fitness and not hit a martial art’s plateau
Alternate. Do HIT training 3 – 4 times a week, or every other day of your regular martial art’s training.
Shaolin HIT Training is one of the challenges on our pathway to Zen. We can be as peaceful and spacious when we’re out of breath as when we’re sitting still. Try it and see
Stress is a natural part of our life. The way we react to stress plays a major role in the health of our mind and body. Seventy-five percent of all doctor’s office visits in the USA are for stress-related ailments and complaints. If we don’t return our mind and body to its natural relaxed state then stress can lead to ill health or anxiety and depression. Stress is very easily fixed with the practice of simple Qigong movements.
Last month, a business man came to me who worked 50 hours a week. The doctor told him that if he continued to live like this, he would probably have only ten more healthy years to go, he is forty-five years old. Through training twice a week with me and working with my Qigong Workout DVD at home, he’s now got his mind and body back and the all clear from his doctor. It’s really simple to take control and fix stress.
Your 7 Step Fix Stress With Qigong Plan
1) STOP ( even just for five minutes). When we are “stressed-out”, it’s very difficult to stop but this is what we must do. It’s amazing what a five minute Qigong Timeout can do.
I come from Xin Jiang which is in the far North of China. My city is a three hour drive from the Gobi Desert. Most of the jade on my website is hand picked from the Gobi Desert. This is my favourite jade because of the striking colour and texture. Flecked with gold and smokey white clouds, no two jade stones are alike.
Like this Eagle Amulet, on the back it’s pure unadulterated jade, while on the front an eagle has been hand carved into the stone.
The jade stones are hand picked from the Gobi desert. They are then taken to the nearest local village where they are polished and hand carved. If they are small, they are made into amulets, and if they are large, they are made into energy stones. Some of them are not carved but kept as energy stones. I keep these next to my computer to purify the air. I recommend you wear the energy stone amulets when practicing Qigong.
Jade is so valued in China that we have a saying, “Gold has value, jade is invaluable.” Shaolin Monks see it as a living thing and it has a long tradition of being used in Traditional Chinese Medicine alongside Qigong, acupuncture and Qigong massage. These are is just a few of the health benefits:
Purification and protection
Increases your innate healing power
Calming and grounding
Protects against harmful rays of computers and phones.
At the Shaolin Temple, most students and monks wear a jade amulet or mala. It’s good to surround yourself with images that uplift and inspire you. Reminders that you are on the Shaolin Warrior path. Every piece of Jade with a carving has a deep symbolic meaning which comes from cosmological, mythical and Buddhist beliefs.
For example, Bodhidharma ( Damo) has a very special place in a Shaolin monk’s heart. The founder of Zen and the person who developed Shaolin martial arts. We see him as important a teacher as the Buddha was. Once you step on the path of Shaolin, this Indian master is your spiritual ancestor.
The Shaolin Warrior doesn’t just train in the training hall. Our practice is our life. Jade is not so well known in the West as Kung Fu and Qigong but is as much a part of a Shaolin Monk’s practice as it’s a part of Chinese culture and health. This is my motivation for sharing with you. I hope you enjoy and get great benefit.
Living like a Shaolin Monk gives us a fascinating insight into how we can live a longer, healthier life with more vitality even in the midst of our urban modern life. Many of us look at a Shaolin Monk’s life and think it’s extreme but think of a Shaolin Monk like an Olympic champion, working hard everyday to remain at the peak of their health and fitness so they can achieve their end goal of enlightenment.
The 7 Health Habits Of A Shaolin Monk
1) Make your health your priority
Yesterday a student came to me with back pain so bad, he found it difficult to stand up straight. He told me that he couldn’t work or do anything because he was so overcome with pain. I massaged his pain to alleviate the worse of it then I guided him through a Qigong movement. At the end of our session, his pain was almost completely gone. I asked him what had triggered the pain, and he told me he hadn’t had time to do any training for many months.
Your health is the most important thing there is. Without health you can’t work or look after your family. Make it a priority. Shaolin Monks never skip a workout.
2) The Power Of Commitment
Before embarking on their training, a Shaolin Monk makes a vow in front of their community. Being healthy requires a lifestyle changes and a way of approaching life in a more holistic way. Think of what you want to achieve, how much time you can give to achieve this goal, and make an inner commitment to strengthen your resolve.
3) Everyday Life Is Zen
When a Shaolin Monk eats they do eating meditation, when they walk they do walking meditation. Staying focused on the path leads to unshakeable peace. So next time you’re in the supermarket do shopping meditation! Treat everything you do as a scared activity.
4) Be Moderate In Eating and Drinking
Through training, your body will naturally reject unhealthy foods and crave healthy foods. Shaolin Monks think of food as medicine, only eating and drinking what they really need. This isn’t about morality, it’s about what serves the purpose of honing us into a martial artist.
5) Quantity counts more than quality
When a Shaolin Monk trains they train with their heart – mind first then their body. Better to train for ten minutes like this than an hour of unfocused scattered training
6) It is our bad habits that cause us trouble, not reality
Whenever a negative emotion arises, a Shaolin Monk welcomes it as a gift so that they can progress on their path. We tend to cling to our worries, circling them round and round in our mind like a marble. But the truth is that by doing this we are only adding to our problem.
7) The Peaceful Heart Is Always Here
A Shaolin Monks way is to peace is through their training and meditation. Whatever yours is, make sure you give yourself time to renew yourself on a daily basis through the Shaolin Qigong Workout and get in touch with the peace that is always within you.
The Shaolin Temple Abbot asked my brother and myself to come to the West because he didn’t want so many Western students coming to the East. I teach with my heart. I teach the same in my books and DVDs as I learnt at the Shaolin Temple. Even when studying under a master, we don’t receive that much personal instruction. We mostly self-practice. No one is there to hold our hand.
It’s important that you don’t dream your life away. f you really want to learn Shaolin as a martial art then start with this book and these 3 DVDs. This is your starting point. I’m your guide. I will help you as much as I can with the limitations of my knowledge, resources and skills.
Last weeks article was about what a novice monk learns when they first step into the temple. This weeks article is about the first few months of training.
The stances and kicks are your foundation. Don’t underestimate them. Make them as strong and solid and precise as you can. Every Shaolin form whether it’s kung fu or Qigong is made up of these stances and kicks. Your forms are as good as your stances. The Shaolin forms are designed to awaken every cell in your body. They activate the muscles in your body in a very fluid way.
The next stage of your training is linking the Five Fundamental Stances into Shaolin forms, and being able to do the Five Fundamental Kicks much faster. We also introduce some fighting kicks.
3 Ways To Train Like A Shaolin Monk
Vary Your Speed – Slow your movements down then pace them up. See how fast you can do them before you become sloppy. This will give you an insight into how well you know the movements.
Dig Deep – A person looking for water doesn’t run around everywhere but stays in one place and keeps digging. It’s the same with your practice. Stay with it. Shaolin Monks practice each Shaolin kick more than a hundred times a day.
Forget Instant – Yes, I’m guilty of this myself because I call my books Instant Fitness and Instant Health. In some ways, it is instant because we’re one breath away from being calm. But for lasting health and fitness, this takes a change of lifestyle. The very meaning of Kung Fu is something which takes a lot of time to master.
Train with Shaolin Workout 1 on one day then Shaolin Workout 2 on another day and spend one day slowly mastering the forms and the kicks. This training is exactly the same as a Shaolin Monk. If you train 6 times a week and begin your training with a run, it will take you 3 months for your body to transform into a martial art’s body. Let me know how you get on. And if you like my articles, please share them.
When a novice monk arrives at the temple, the first thing they have to attain is stamina. Think of stamina as energy for training. Without stamina, there’s no training. This is why, when students ask me what they need to prepare for the summer camp, I tell them, just run. I don’t mind if they’ve never done any martial arts before. All I ask is they have stamina.
The first Shaolin exercise the novice monk learns is the Five Fundamental Stances. In the gym, students squat with weights in order to strengthen their legs and core. The Five Fundamental Stances are similar but the squats come from different angles. They open the hips, strengthen the core, help with balance, and increase static stamina.
There are many pictures of Shaolin Monks eating breakfast while staying in horse stance. While I’ve never done that! Shaolin Monks do hold stances. Static stamina is another way to strengthen the body. Western people typically do planks. You’ll be surprised how much you sweat just by holding a stance. I combine many of these movements in my Qigong for Lower Body.
The Five Fundamental Kicks are the next exercise they learn. The beauty of the Shaolin movements is they don’t just do one thing. They are multifunctional. The kicks build stamina speed, agility and flexibility. Shaolin is a highly efficient and intelligent way to train. The training has a destination: to transform the novice monk into a highly efficient martial artist. The secret to Shaolin? Training. Training. And more training.
If I’m travelling and all I have access to is a car park. I’ll take my skipping rope, do some skipping to warm up then combine some of my fight training with novice monk exercises. These exercises are never learnt then not practiced. They are practiced for the rest of our life. Once you know these exercises well you can combine them into your workout. If you workout at the gym, whether its kettle bells, weights, circuit training or MMA then add in a couple of kicks or stances into your workout. Mix it up. Don’t just stick to one thing. You don’t want your training to be too linear. Your body will thank you for it. It will improve your fighting kicks, your stamina, make you run faster. Try it and let me know!
The Shaolin Workout are thousands of years old. Passed from generation to generation and still practiced by millions of people every day. If any of you have been to Shaolin, it’s amazing to see hundreds of students practicing. Why do they do it? If the exercises were rubbish, they would have been forgotten along time ago. The reason they’re still practiced is because they’re a proven way to change our muscles and tendons.
And let’s not forget that the Shaolin Temple is a Zen Temple. The exercises act as a bridge to Zen. The link between mind and body is the breath. It’s impossible to do any of these exercises mindlessly. Breath is an integral part to the training. It’s a little like swimming. Even if you’re out of breath when you swim, you have to find a way to control your breathing otherwise you’ll breath in water. It’s the same with Shaolin, you can’t inhale on a kick or a punch. It feels completely unnatural. Natural breathing happens of its own accord. Once the mind and body are working together the body becomes happy and this in turn makes the mind happy and the endorphins of peace and happiness are released.
It’s best not to explain too much because too much information takes away the student’s own raw experience. But there is so much misinformation on the internet about Shaolin that sometimes students tie themselves in knots. and this confusion creates unhappiness. What are we all looking for? We want health and happiness. This statement is overused and sounds a bit silly but actually it’s a strong and worthy thing to want.
I show you from the Shaolin Way how we go about it. Maybe you’re not interested in Shaolin and find happiness from skiing or flower arranging and so that’s what you need to do.
But if you do study Shaolin, keep it simple. As soon as you start over thinking or getting complicated, stop, bring yourself back. Breath and movement together. That’s all you need to do.
Novice Monk exercises are taught in my Shaolin Workout book, DVD and download. In next week’s article I’ll talk about the second stage of a novice monk’s training: forms.
In the age of social media, many people train for a body they perceive looks attractive to other people. When I was training at the Shaolin Temple, we didn’t even have a camera. Nothing was documented. We trained to conquer our mind and body and become the best we could in our chosen art form.
Since coming to the West, I’ve noticed that many fit people aren’t healthy. And many people whose body looks good on the outside, aren’t well on the inside. When a student first comes to train with me, I ask them to throw away the scales, the smartphone, the mirror and train for the pure motivation of inner and outer wellness. What matters most? Health or looking good?
Gym Training has its merits but it doesn’t address the whole body. One of the keys to successful training is balancing the Yin and Yang. This means training internally as well as externally. From a Shaolin Monk’s perspective, a well and healthy body is flexible, has good stamina, a strength and leanness to the muscles, and a mind and body that works in harmony.
A weight trainer’s body is muscular but tends to be stiff. A weight lifter will usually be unable to do the splits. Their range of movement will be limited and slow. A yoga student will be flexible but ask them to do the Five Fundamental Kicks and there will be no stamina or explosive power to their kick.
Why are splits important or being able to kick? Even if you can’t do the splits, it’s good to attempt them because it opens up the hips and the legs. The Five Fundamental Kicks are a dynamic stretch. Combining dynamic stretching with static stretching is the best way to increase stamina. Combining explosive movement with slower movement and anerobic training with aerobic training gives an alertness to the body. It’s highly tuned.
The Yin Training a Shaolin Monk does is Qigong. (I’ve written many articles about Qigong so I won’t go into details in this article.) A cook always sharpens their knife. Qigong is the sharpening of the knife.
A Shaolin Monk trains all the time. When we punch, we do punch meditation, when we kick, we do kick meditation, when we eat we do eating meditation. Eating mindfully has been found to help with digestion and even weight loss. Mindfulness has become very popular recently because it’s been shown to prevent anxiety and depression. There’s nothing complicated about it. We simply connect our mind, body and heart into a whole and then we feel whole. We are no longer distracted and looking for something to complete us. We are already complete.
But how can you implement a Shaolin Monk’s wellness into your life? As you continue in your week, stay connected – not to what’s happening on your smart phone – but to what’s happening in your heart, mind and body. Be aware of any distraction. This is all energy going outward. When our mind and body are stable, energy naturally returns.
When I was 15, I injured my back and my doctor told me I could never train again. I loved Shaolin Kung Fu so much that I didn’t listen to him and – even though I was in considerable pain – I went back to the Shaolin Temple and continued with my training. Nearly thirty years later, I’m still in love with Shaolin and I’m still training. I generally workout 3 hours a day and I teach 4 – 6 hours per day. That training and teaching takes a lot of energy! The only reason I can sustain it is because of Qigong.
Don’t tell anyone but Qigong is not my favorite workout. I much prefer Sanshou and Kung Fu. But I like the benefit and the feeling of calm afterwards. At the Shaolin Temple, the aim of Qigong is to make our body become its own doctor. But what does that actually mean? The body is constantly regulating itself. Ever tried to loose weight and found it hard? That’s because even our body fat – frustratingly for us – regulates itself. Eat less and our metabolism slows down to compensate. The aim of Qigong is to create a more harmonious regulation of the body. Stress – one of the major causes of illness and also belly fat through the production of cortisol – melts away, breathing is calmed, and the body’s automatic wisdom takes over.
The founder of Zen, Bodhidharma (Damo) created this Qigong because the monks were suffering from the same problems we suffer from today. They were sitting for long periods of time and this was weakening their body. Of course, they weren’t sitting in offices in front of computers. They were sitting in temples in meditation in their quest to gain enlightenment. A Shaolin Monk took 8 of the most effective movements from the longer Qigong that Damo created for the Shaolin monks and called it The 8 Treasures. It’s also called 8 Brocades or Ba Buan Jin.
Using my book and the DVD together means that you can see the movement and you can also read a break down of the movement so you can learn it effectively. I’ve had many students who trained with my book and DVD and then came to me for a private session to check it they’re practicing correctly. This gives me an opportunity to see if the book and DVD are an effective teaching method and I’m pleased to say they are because my student’s training is correct.
It’s no different than following a recipe (my students tell me, I’ve never read a cookery book in my life). As long as you follow the instructions, you can learn from my book and DVD very effectively.
The biggest challenge in learning from home is not whether you’re doing it correctly but staying motivated. Can you imagine not drinking coffee? Or brushing your teeth? Or taking your clothes off before you go to bed? This is because all of these things are a habit for you.
Will power runs out but habit lasts a lifetime. The beauty of the 8 movements is that they can be broken down so if you only have 5 minutes then do 5 minutes. Do them at the same time and on the same day every week. Your body will crave your Qigong practice as if it’s the most delicious food you’ve ever tasted. Delicious food releases endorphins in our body – which is one of the reasons many people eat when they’re stressed. Qigong releases endorphins too! So next time you feel stressed, rather than reaching for that piece of chocolate cake – do Qigong!
The Instant Health Massage is an integral part of the practice but if you don’t have time to do it after your Qigong practice, do it after your bath or shower either in the evening or the morning. It’s also great to do after your workout. Focus on the muscles that are tight and the parts of your body that feels tender. These are meridian blockages and you can massage them for longer.
But how do you know if you’re doing the Qigong Workout correctly? Your face will look younger, your eyes will be brighter, your skin will glow, you will feel grounded and calmer throughout the day, your tipping point for stress will be much lower, and you will have more energy. If this isn’t happening then email me for advice.
If you have a recurring or nagging injury, back ache, high blood pressure, pre-menstrual tension, menopausal problems, injuries, high and low blood pressure, the 8 Treasures Qigong may help. But how can it help with all of these numerous problems? Because it taps into the body’s automatic wisdom and realigns the body so it works at its optimal level.
Please share this article and share your experience of Qigong in the comments below. And if you haven’t tried Qigong yet, then click here for your complete 8 Treasures Qigong package which includes everything you need to start your Qigong journey today.
Human beings have an inner light that cannot be seen but is manifested as the techniques of Shaolin Kung Fu and Qigong. Daily life is a battlefield where are patience and wisdom are constantly tested. For any realisation we have in our Shaolin practice to be authentic, we must be able to apply it to the outside world. True understanding is reflected in our daily life.
When our heart is full of thinking, our body feels constrained. Through our Shaolin Practice we go beyond the chatter of the mind and access our true mind which is as clear as a mountain stream, pure, fresh and unpolluted.
Our body is not easily obtained. It is the most important job of a human being to take care of our body. This is done by returning our mind and body to its true natural home through the practice of Shaolin Kung Fu and Qigong. The purpose of our practice is to harmonise our mind and body. The purpose of Shaolin Martial Arts is the harmonisation of human beings. There is nothing in the world that can not be harmonised.
If you have faith in your inner light and entrust everything to it, all be taken care of harmoniously. Can anyone sleep for you? Can anyone eat for you? Believe in your inner light.
This is my translation of some writing from a well respected Shaolin master from the last century. I find these verses inspirational and hope you do too!
At the Shaolin Temple we’re required to study sutras and books written by our spiritual ancestors. Many of these teachings are focused on how to increase health and longevity.
“Your body is a treasured gift from heaven and earth. It’s your job to take care of it and nourish it through the practice of Shaolin Qigong. If you make an effort you will definitely see effects: your body will become stronger, you will be free of disease, you will lengthen your lifespan, and enjoy your life.”
Today, scientists are also studying health and longevity. Latest research shows that those who age the slowest have the best organ function and are the least likely to die. This demonstrates how important our internal organs are. Aerobic exercise has been shown to prevent memory loss, heart disease, diabetes, depression and obesity. Weight training stops our muscles from shrinking as we get older. But what about our internal organs? Because we can’t see them, we tend to only think of them when something goes wrong. But it’s the internal organs that govern the body.
Shaolin Qigong is the only exercise I know that stretches and exercises the internal organs. Kung Fu doesn’t do this, yoga doesn’t do this, and meditation doesn’t do this.The 8 Treasures Qigong is 8 of the most effective movements that the founder of Zen, Bodhidharma (Damo) taught to his disciples. These deceptively simple movements keep our body internally strong which is the key to keeping our mind strong and living well into old age.
I will be 43 this year and I still train as hard as I did when I was 14 because I practice Qigong and do the Instant Health Massage. If you’re a martial artist, MMA fighter, boxer, runner or you simply love to work out, you’ll find that Qigong increases your stamina, power and strength. Qigong optimizes your mind and body.
All you need to do is keep a regular practice of at least three times a week. And finish with the Instant Health Massage. The Instant Health Massage acts as a natural battery charger for our body and increases the effectiveness of our Qigong practice.
“You must temporarily put aside work that is not important and make time for Qigong. Taking care of your life is the most important job you have as a human being.”
When I began training at the Shaolin Temple the focus was on simplicity. This is the best way to approach Shaolin. The traditional Shaolin Temple punches, kicks and forms are specifically designed to change your muscles and tendons.
Whether you’re training at the Shaolin Temple or training with my kung fu workout book and DVD in your home: day by day you transform your mind and body into a martial artist’s mind and body. But don’t think these exercises are just for beginners. I, along with most Shaolin monks and senior students still do these drills on a daily basis to fine tune my body and keep it working at its optimal. Here’s how you can do it.
Your Shaolin Kung Fu Training Plan
Set a goal. Use four weeks to learn everything in my book. Within these 4 weeks you will know the movements and be able to follow my Shaolin Workout DVD. Then use the next four weeks to push yourself.
Direct your focus. Take the focus off your problems and your limitations and focus on your goal. When you focus on your goal your problem will be smaller.
Run. At the Shaolin Temple we always begin our training with a run. Run for 10 – 30 minutes to warm your body then come home and follow my DVD.
Learn a little, train a little. Make sure you’re doing the exercises correctly. Don’t use too much power as you want your mind and body to have memory. When you can do the movement properly move on to the next exercise.
Here’s an example: 10 push ups. 20 – 30 Traditional punches. Body Movement to relax the shoulders. Repeat x 5
Squats x 20. Straight Kick. Squats x 20. Cross Kick etc. Move through the five fundamental kicks.
Click here to order your entire package which includes everything you need to get started on your Shaolin Journey today. And don’t forget to let me know how you get on in the comments below.
Top athletes use sport’s psychologists to train their minds to perform at their best in competition. Shaolin Monks use the psychology of Zen. This doesn’t mean that if you practice Shaolin you need to be a Buddhist but Zen philosophy can help you perform at the peak of your ability while staying focused and peaceful.
Aimlessness is an important Zen teaching which helps us to stop drifting into the future of “if” and “when”, and focus on the single point of now.
Aimlessness means: You already are what you want to become. Does a tree have to do something? The purpose of a tree is to be itself, and your purpose is to be yourself.
You have everything. There is no need to put anything in front of you and run after it. So, whatever it is that you believe you want – good health, more energy or to be an exceptional martial artist – you already have.
Bringing this energy into your Qigong and Kung Fu Workout will help you enter the raw experience of Zen. For this month, check yourself and rather than constantly trying to improve yourself, train from the perspective that you already are what you want to become. Relax. There is nothing to strive for.
Shaolin Kung Fu and Qigong helps you to reach the potential in yourself that you only dreamt of before. Using the powerful energy inside your mind and body you can make yourself healthy and balanced. If you approach the Shaolin Arts with intelligence and determination, I guarantee you can bring to your life the wholeness, health and inner satisfaction that you seek.
To find out more about my on-line training click here for Kung Fu and here for Qigong.