Just five techniques

If you could pick just five techniques to practice, what would they be?

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Training of the hand

Image from http://www.taoistmasterblog.com/

The hands of an Iron Palm master. Yikes! Image taken from http://www.taoistmasterblog.com/

Ever heard the phrase “Iron Palm” or “Cinnabar Palm” in kung fu? Curious what kung fu people do to train their hands? This post’ll give you a brief introduction to a collection of training methods known as “training of the hand.”

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My grandmaster demonstrating "Smashing Waves in Whirlwind," a characteristic Choy Li Fatt pattern.

Kung Fu: Choy Li Fatt

This style of Southern Shaolin Kung Fu is derived from a master who spontaneously selected the best patterns and strategies of three kung fu styles: Choy Family Kung Fu, Li Family Kung Fu, and Monk (Fatt means “Buddha”) Kung Fu. The style is characterized by extensive external force training, diagonal stances, and long-reaching arm movements. Its forte is fighting multiple opponents, especially if they are of low level, which is a boon during times of war and rebellion. A characteristic strategy of a Choy Li Fatt exponent when faced with many foes is to dive right into the herd swinging their powerful arms about “like a wolf amongst sheep.”

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The External Training of Shaolin Kung Fu

Some of the most visually spectacular arts of kung fu involve people breaking things that seem pretty sturdy like bricks or poles. “Surely there’s some secret magical training involved!” I used to think, before I learnt better. The training principles are actually quite easy, it’s a matter of dedicating oneself to the correct training for years under a competent master (yes, I said years, and yes, I said you needed a competent master).

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