Selasa, 27 April 2010

Unlock the Secret of Shaolin Iron Leg

The Shaolin Temple have thirty-six internal techniques and thirty-six external techniques making a total of seventy-two different styles. When we talk about internal we don’t mean 100% internal, but a combination of internal and external with the focus more on the internal. It’s the same with
the external techniques, the focus is more on external but internal still has its part to play.
In this article I focus on Iron Leg. 

This article is for information only and must not be used as a substitute for being taught by a qualified master. All of the Shaolin body conditioning techniques can damage a person’s body, they can not be learnt from a book or a DVD, and they must be approached with wisdom and caution.

The Paradoxical Qualities of Iron Leg

Iron Leg is one of the thirty-six external styles. Iron Leg needs to have flexibility, speed, power, and it also needs to be hard as well as soft. But how can a leg be soft and hard at the same time? This paradox is at the heart of every single one of the Shaolin techniques.

Bio Dynamics and Muscle Quality

I practise Iron Shirt and I recently had my muscles tested as part of an investigation by the Dana Centre in the London Science Museum. The scientists wanted to find out what was it about my muscles that made them able to withstand such heavy blows. Using a bio dynamics machine and comparing my performance with a rower, they found my muscles had more or less the same strength as the rower so it wasn’t the strength of the muscles that was helping me withstand blows.

They found my reaction time to be incredibly quick, which isn’t surprising as a martial artist’s reaction time must be far quicker than a rower.

They then used a different type of machinery that prodded into my stomach, they found when I contracted my muscles, they became not just hard but “bouncy”, deflecting the power of the machine and sending it back

This is the aim of these techniques and one of the keys as to why Shaolin masters can take such heavy blows. Our body acts as a mirror reflecting our opponent’s power back to them. Iron Shirt or Iron Leg is not just about muscle strength but the quality of the muscle and the use of Qi.

Attack and Defence

Iron Leg means when you kick, your kick is incredibly powerful, it also means that when someone kicks your leg, your leg is like a tree. Not only can you take the kick but also the kick hurts your opponent and doesn’t hurt you.


If you want to develop Iron Leg, the first thing you need to develop is excellent stamina. This means you need to run a lot and you also need to do a lot of lower stances and lower kicks to build up your legs. We call this static stamina. 

You also need to make not only your leg flexible but also your entire body because when you kick although you are using your leg, you kick with your whole body.

People believe that in order to make their leg strong they always needs to kick a bag or bamboo but this is only the external part of the technique. The most important aspect to developing Iron Leg is that we make our bone strong, not just our skin, sinew, and muscle. And in order to do this we need to be flexible.


As well as going through your regular stretching exercises you need to do the five fundamental kicks and then move on to fighting kicks.( I teach these in my Shaolin Workout DVDs) Kicking at different levels high, middle, and low. Practise shadow kicks over and over again to make your body and leg work together.

If your leg is hard but inflexible this will mean that you can’t kick properly which means your leg is strong but this isn’t a good weapon because you don’t know how to use it. If your leg is very fast but it isn’t strong, this means if you kick someone and there body is stronger than your leg then you will be injured. Iron leg protects this from happening.

The Qualities Of Iron
Iron has different qualities; some iron is easier to break than others. If it’s easy to break this means it’s on only strong on the outside but its not strong on the outside.

This is why you must practise Qigong alongside body conditioning. First, you practice the Qigong prescribed to you by your master then you apply the body conditioning tincture and you rub it deep into your skin so you feel as if it is penetrating your bones. Then we use an iron brush, we also use bags with beans inside or metal ball bearings, and we do a lot of stamps. I demonstrate the simple Shaolin form Si Be Quan in Shaolin Workout One. The more power you can use with this stamp the more the power of the vibration will go inside the bone which makes the bone strong and conditions the internal organs.

Body Conditioning

When we practise body conditioning, our leg gets blue and swollen. Qi Gong is vital because this helps the internal organs work together. Afterwards, using the Shaolin Energy Massage Brush, we beat our body helping the blood to flow and the Qi to circulate.

Ten Years Time

Iron leg is very hard training; it takes a lot of will power. Some people believe that all you have to do is kick hard things for about ten years time and then they will have an iron leg. I guarantee this will not happen.

Iron Leg takes skill and a proper master to lead and teach the student. A strong training plan is needed with faith and belief that this is possible.

Only when you can kick someone with power and speed, and you can stand and take the kicks of others without using any self-defence but your own Qi have you come close to mastering this technique. 

Senin, 19 April 2010

Unlock the secret of Shaolin Stamina

Extraordinary techniques for unleashing the power of the body and mind

When we practice martial arts it’s vitally important that we train our minds as much as we train our bodies. We believe we are the boss of our minds but when our mind says it wants chocolate, even though we know we shouldn’t, the next thing we know we are eating a bar of chocolate. So who is in charge? We can’t blame it on the bar of chocolate can we?
More than two thousand five hundred years ago, The Lord Buddha said, “It is our mind which makes the world.”        
A positive mind has a positive impact on ourselves and in turn our family and friends and this trickles out to the world at large. I don’t know if there was chocolate in the Buddha’s time but I can guarantee that our mind was the same then as it is now.
At the Shaolin Temple we use powerful techniques that have been passed to us directly from the Buddha to aid us in our martial art’s training. This doesn’t mean that in order to practice Shaolin we need to be Buddhists but using some of these mind techniques can help us to approach our training with fresh eyes.

Mind and Body Stamina

When I studied at the Shaolin Temple, we started every morning with a grueling run up the Songshan Mountain to the Bodhidharma cave then back down the hill, where we would begin our martial art’s training. There were many mornings when I felt lazy and the last thing I wanted to do was run up the mountain but our master would be chasing behind us with a stick and we would be beaten if we were too slow. Over the years, one of the things I began to realise was that sometimes it wasn’t my body that was feeling tired but my mind. Our master was there with the stick not just to give our bodies stamina but more importantly our minds.

In our martial arts training it is vitally important that we build two types of stamina – mind and body. A martial artist’s mind is very important for every aspect of their performance. We need to be as flexible in our mind as we are in our bodies.

Super Human

Looking back over my training, I realise it was my mind which held me back rather than my body. Shaolin Steel Jacket is a good example of that. When I began this training, I doubted whether it was really possible to hit myself with a brick and feel no pain. Of course, it is impossible without special instruction and techniques. It would be like trying to find a street in a strange town without a map or someone to guide us. But with the correct training, our body can surpass what our mind thinks is possible. People call Shaolin monks “super human” but we are human, it’s just we know how to train our flesh and blood and the most important thing: our mind.

A fusion of body and mind

I feel this is what all martial arts are, an extraordinary fusion of mind and body. And the first thing Shaolin monks do with their body is take it for a run. I don’t believe that any martial artist can have good stamina if they don’t run.

Body Stamina


When we run and we get tired, sometimes it is our muscle and other times it is our breathing. We need to build the power of our muscle and breathing together. We don’t need to count how many steps we take but we need to get into a rhythm so our steps are in tune with our inhale and exhale. The other important aspect is to vary our speeds so that sometimes we are doing aerobic exercise and other times anaerobic. For example we can do five minutes to warm up then two minutes sprint then one minutes slow then another five minutes normal jogging speed.

Long Distance

We also need to do at least one long distance run a week. But if we can run eight or ten miles, this doesn’t mean we have good stamina for martial arts. The only way to build this is to continue our training after we have run. This is the reason why all Shaolin Temple trainees start their day with a run up the mountain and then don’t stop but continue.

Temple Training

The running is just a warm up, a preliminary. Our body is warm and now we begin our real martial art’s training. It’s vitally important that we stretch thoroughly. Running, especially hill running makes our leg muscles tight so we need to do a lot of kicks to loosen the tightness of our muscles.  We start off by doing relaxed kicks and punches building up to using power and practicing our forms. We also can do some jumping to strengthen our legs.

At the Shaolin Temple we have no choice. We are never allowed to lie in bed. But here in the West, we have many choices. We may start off with a lot of enthusiasm but maybe one day it’s raining or we feel tired or there’s an interesting film on at the cinema or we don’t have enough time. This is when it’s time to employ Mind Stamina.

Mind Stamina


When we are in the temple, we practice meditation. Many people think that meditation is sitting on the floor in a cross-legged position and trying to empty our minds of all thoughts but this is not meditation; this is like being a dead person! There are many types of meditation, I think people give themselves a hard time, they say ok, now I will be peaceful but when they shut their eyes the thoughts seem louder and they don’t feel peaceful at all so they stop meditating all together.

Thoughts are thoughts. It’s what we do with the thought that is the important thing. It’s how we react. There are many different ways to meditate but one way is to meditate with positive thoughts. This will give energy to our mind.

Running Meditation

We don’t have to sit to do this but we can do it when we run. When we feel tired, we can dedicate our run. For example, we can say; I want to run ten minutes for peace or ten minutes for my grandfather who is ill, or ten minutes for my friend who was feeling depressed today. We can dedicate whatever we do for the betterment of others, and this takes the focus off the smallness of us and makes our running a part of the whole world.

Horse Stance

The other thing we can do to help with the stamina of our mind is practice different stances. For example we can practice horse stance. We stay as low as we can and we quickly get tired so then our mind fights with our body. Our mind says, “Keep going!” but our legs say, “You are killing me!”  It’s the same as the chocolate bar. Which one will we choose?

This is one of the reasons in the old kung fu films we see the kung fu master’s practice horse stance. It is great for building mind and body at the same time. 

You already are what you want to become

Another mind technique we can apply to our martial arts training is
aimlessness. This is one of four Dharma seals in Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism. This 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.

We have everything. There is no need to put anything in front of us 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 our practice, enriches everything we do - running, kung fu, qigong, meditation, and also our work and family life. It helps us to stop putting our life on hold or wait for the future when we think we will have more time or be less stressed.

There is only now

There is no future time there is only now. And now is the most important
time we have. Now is the building block for the future. Instead of drifting
into the future of “if” and “when”, we focus on the single point of now.

Kung Fu Ch’an

In my DVD Kung fu Ch’an, through Shaolin Kung fu, I demonstrate how the mind and body work together to become one so that Shaolin training becomes a direct gateway into the teachings of Ch’an Buddhism.

Shaolin Martial Arts helps us to reach the potential in ourselves that we only dreamt of before. I believe with the correct approach and the right motivation, we can use our martial arts to bring to our life the wholeness, health and inner satisfaction that we seek.

The Five Fundamental Shaolin Stances

The Five Fundamental Stances are the key to unlocking the Shaolin forms. If you can master these five stances then it will make it much easier for you to master any Shaolin Qigong and Kung Fu form. This month I focus on Mabu or Horse Stance as it is known in the West.

Ma Bu - Horse Stance
It could be argued that Mabu is the most important Shaolin stance. This stance is used in nearly every single Shaolin form. The only DVD of mine that it doesn't appear in is The Way of Qigong Volume 2, and that's because the form is a sitting one.


Acts as a gateway between internal and external forms.
Invigorates the body.
Strengthens the legs.
Strengthens the spine.
Is the key to unlocking the Shaolin forms.
Increases willpower.
Centers and grounds the mind and body.

Step by Step

1) Step your left leg out to the side so your feet are wider than your shoulders and slowly squat into Ma Bu.
2) Grab the floor with your feet and place your hands in front of your chest in prayer position.
3) Remain here for six breaths.

Check list

It's a good idea to check your stance in the mirror.
Is your behind tucked in?
Is your neck tucked in and are your shoulders relaxed?
Are you knees slightly pushed out so they are over your knees?
Are your eyes strong?
Is your centre of gravity in the middle?
Are you gently grabbing the floor with your feet. 
Don't tip the body but keep it straight.


If you have knee or back problems then you need to keep your stance high. If you find the stance is aggravating the problem then you need to stop. There should be no pain when you do this stance.

How to deepen your horse stance

Make your stance lower and increase the time you stay in the stance a little more every day. Don't allow yourself to rise higher. Even though you are not moving you will start to sweat. We call this static stamina. 


It's a good idea for Qigong and Kung Fu students to spend some time working on this stance in the same way that yoga students spend time working on their poses. Our body's tend to be lazy and want to find an easy way out but regular check ups will keep us on the right path. It's also easier to feel the Qi in the Dantian when we do Ma Bu which is why even a few minutes of doing this stance will help us to feel grounded and energised. 

Want to learn more?

I teach all of the Five Fundamental Shaolin Stances in my book Instant Health: The Shaolin Qigong Workout For Longevity and in my DVDs: Shaolin Workout 1 and Rou Quan.

Five Ways To Tune Up Your Metabolism

Metabolism tends to slow down as we get older but there are many health and wellness factors we can control to keep it well tuned so that we can continue to maintain a healthy weight and have optimal energy through every stage of our life. These are my five top tips from the Shaolin Temple as to how to keep your metabolism running smoothly.

1) Do Qigong

Qigong regulates the bodies energy. If a person's metabolism is too fast, it will slow down, if it's too slow, the body will shift accordingly. If you're not sure whether you believe in Qi, then take a look at the research some scientists did on my Qigong.

If you're still not convinced then think that you're oxygenating your inner organs. Getting fresh oxygen into the body can't be a bad thing. After going through The Eight Treasures form you'll feel relaxed and have more energy. Relaxation alone helps  balance the metabolism. A happy mind makes a happy body.

2) Do Shaolin Kung Fu

Studies show that interval training can increase metabolism if done at least three times a week. It not only builds endurance but interval training means muscles use more oxygen and burn more calories. Shaolin Kung Fu is the ultimate interval training workout not only for martial artists but for anyone who wants to get fighting fit and feel confident. It's cheap, effective and it means we don't need to do a separate cardio from our weight training because we use our own body as the weight. (If you are new to exercise, elderly or haven't exercised in a while then interval training may not be for you and you need to read my beginner's guide to the Shaolin Workout first, which you can find in my newsletters. )

3) Include protein at every meal

Protein takes longer for the body to break down than carbohydrates or fruit and vegetables so you burn more calories when digesting it. Protein is an important factor for Chinese medicine and can include pulses and beans, tofu, fish, poultry as well as meat.

4) Drink green tea

The village where I made my Qigong Volume 2 and 3 and Rou Quan DVDs all drink a very special tea which is known as kung fu tea. This is not because it has anything to do with kicking or punching but because there is a traditional ceremony involved in the making and serving of the tea which takes time - gung in Chinese -. This tea is the explanation the people in this village give for being slim and healthy. A recent study backs up their explanation. It has found that the antioxidants in the green tea may stimulate the body to burn calories and decrease fat. Try to drink a few cups of good quality tea a day.

5) Meditate

Cortisol is the hormone that's produced by the body when it's stressed, this hormone slows metabolism, stimulates appetite, and can increase fat. If you don't have time to meditate then use your Qigong practice as a meditation. Do the standing Qigong ( Qigong 1 or 3) in the day then the sitting Qigong ( Way of Qigong 2) for five or ten minutes in the evening to help unwind before you go to sleep.

Senin, 12 April 2010

The Power of Desire: How To Find A Way To Love The Things You Hate

In order to shoot my book: Instant Health: The Shaolin Qigong Workout For Longevity, I had to train harder than I usually train because I knew that I had to climb mountains with heavy camera equipment and lights and when I got to the top I had to perform Shaolin movements and jumps and kicks over and over again so it would look perfect for the book.

Before I left for China, as well as my regular Shaolin training I stepped up my stamina training. At six am in the morning there I would be on the treadmill running for one and a half hours. I began to dread the treadmill and half-way through my training I really felt sick at the sight of that treadmill!

In order to continue my training, I had to find a way to replace hate with love. I did this is by setting daily challenges for myself to run faster or further and when I achieved them I felt happy. If I had kept up the "I hate the treadmill" attitude then I would have lost my physical strength and energy. From this experience I realised an important lesson. My desire to make a good book over-ruled any objections that I had to training hard and that is the reason I found ways to keep going.

We are ruled by desire. Desire is a powerful energy which we can use in our training. Whether you are a serious martial artist or you have just picked up my martial art's DVDs with a vague interest in Qigong or getting fit, the desire is the same. We all want to live long, healthy and happy life. Shaolin training helps us to achieve this.

You may have other goals: self-defence, lose weight, get fit or be a great martial artist. Shaolin can help you do this too. But these are long term goals and we need to use the energy of desire that is right here now.

Utilise this energy into small goals and achievements. Replace negative self-talk with positive attitudes. Try swapping " I hate" to "I love" and let your mind find a way to love what you hate. Let your mind be as flexible as your body. Challenge yourself. Even if you only practice a little Qigong every now and again, begin to see yourself as a true Shaolin warrior and keep in touch with the real warrior not only when you train but when you are at work or with your family or at play.

Shaolin Qigong and Kung Fu is not just for martial artists but for anyone who wants to live a long and healthy life. e>

Kamis, 01 April 2010

Unlock The Secret Of Longevity

Tips To Creating Your Personal Longevity Program

Breathing Is Boring

Good health is the foundation of our life. But what is the foundation of good health? The right food? Water? Living conditions? All of these are important but we can survive without food and water for a few days. But how long can we survive without the breath? There’s a famous Ch’an story about a young monk who complained to his master that "meditating on the breath was boring". His master grabbed the student, held him under water and then asked the student, "And now do you think that breathing is boring? "

Qigong Breathing Is The Key To Longevity

At the Shaolin Temple, the monks know how important the breath is. Every movement they do, every kick, every punch is done with the breath of Qi. They are famous throughout the world for increasing their martial power and the rate of their health and longevity through a series of breathing exercise called Qigong. If you are new to Qigong then you can find out more here.

Reverse Qigong Breathing

Qigong breathing is a different type of breathing to our regular breathing. When we practice Shaolin we reverse the way we breathe (Full details on how we do this can be found in my book: Instant Health: The Shaolin Qigong Workout For Longevity) Just as the heart pumps the blood, the lungs pumps the breath or Qi, which is why we don’t use our regular breath when we practice Qigong but a special breathing technique which gives us the ability to channel our breath where the body needs it most.

Martial Qigong

When I practice Shaolin Steel Jacket I channel my breath into my ribs so that I don’t get hurt when beat with bricks or metal bars. But Shaolin Qigong isn’t just about shaven headed monks and fancy kung fu moves, it’s one of the most effective ways I know to increase our health, fitness, happiness and longevity.

The Elixir Of Youth

It’s not just the Shaolin Temple that is famous for its longevity practices but also the Taoist hermits. Thousand of years ago, high up in the mountains of China, the Taoists studied Qigong and called it the elixir of youth. They wanted to see how long they could live so they could taste the secret of life. The Buddhist monks practiced Qigong so they could stay alive for as long as possible and gain enlightenment. Today, we practice Qigong to not only help us with our martial arts but also for many of the same reasons. Although many of us don’t like to think this way, we will all get old. But we can grow old gracefully. Doing regular exercise and Qigong helps to prevent illness, and keep us young.

Without my regular practice of Qigong I could not continue with the hard training that I do. I am thirty-six years old, if you look at most of the Shaolin masters, they look much younger than their years. And this is because we practice Qigong.

Instant Health

One of the motivations for writing my book: Instant Health: The Shaolin Qigong Workout For Longevity was to give people an accessible step by step guide to Shaolin Qigong, free from the secrets and myths that have accumulated in the West. It’s understandable that so much misinformation has amassed because Qigong was only allowed to be practiced in China from 1989, before that time it had to be passed secretly from generation to generation. I am very grateful to my master at the Shaolin Temple for transmitting such precious teachings to me.

The Longevity Workout

The Longevity Workout consists of warm up, stretching, Qigong and self-massage. It works on the same principles as acupuncture. Just as we have veins that run through our body, we also have an energy matrix that runs through our body. In China, we call this matrix, channels. And we liken them to a river. Throughout the day as we get tired or stressed, these channels get blocked, if the channels continue to be blocked, overtime the blockage becomes more serious and this is when we get ill.

Qigong For Liver

An example of this is when we are stressed our liver channel becomes blocked; we do Qigong for liver to unblock the channel. The Eight Treasures Qigong that I teach in my DVD and book works on opening up all the major channels including the liver channel. If we deal with these blockages on a daily basis then we are constantly unblocking the channels so that the Qi can flow smoothly. This is why a Qigong practioner experiences a much greater degree of energy, their skin glows, their immune system is strong because they are preventing illness before it occurs. This is the best form of medicine. To optimize our Qigong Workout we finish off with a self-massage.


If you are seeking health, then you use a bamboo brush, and if you are a martial artist and you want to progress to body conditioning such as Shaolin Steel Jacket then you use a metal brush. But the massage technique is the same.

The self-massage takes less than ten minutes and is done after Qigong. It acts as a natural battery charger for the body. As your practice deepens, you can then massage yourself with more force, and the vibrations begin to clean the very marrow of the bone. This is where the term Bone Marrow Cleansing comes from. I demonstrate this massage in The Way of Qigong Volume 2 & 3 and also my Qigong book.

Jade Stone And Green Tea

Alongside Qigong and self-massage, Chinese people have always used Jade as a longevity tool. We often have a Jade Buddha around our wrist or neck or a Jade energy stone in our car or home. We believe that everything contains energy or Qi. And because Jade is from the earth, it contains a life force of its own. But you don’t need to have a 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 any longevity energy! Chinese people use Jade to cleanse and balance the body. In China, many women use Jade to prevent ageing of the face.

The other thing that we do is drink green tea. This has very high levels of antioxidant, which help to prevent ageing of the body.

Go for it!

If I explain to you the taste of an apple, it's not the same as you actually taking a bite from an apple. It's the same with the longevity program. I believe it will increase your success at work and help you to feel more at ease with life, it will help you to run faster or punch quicker. It will give you more energy not only for your martial art's training but your day-to-day life. But don’t take my word for it, go and try it out for yourself today.

Start Your Personal Shaolin Longevity Program Today

Alongside my book and/ or DVD, make a personal longevity training program with a weekly plan as to how many times you will train together with the times and dates and a note of how you’re feeling right now then check your progress as the weeks go by.

Protect Yourself From Negativity

Wearing the jade reminds you that you are taking positive steps towards health. It reminds you not to stop or give up. It's easy for us to forget or slip and go back to old ways. Wearing the Jade can protect us from our own negative thoughts. I wear a Jade Guan Yin amulet that my sister bought for me when I came to the UK. It reminds me to stay connected to my heart and to honour the teachings that I have been given as a great gift from the temple. More information about Jade can be found here.

I think you’ll be surprised at the increase in your focus, confidence, peace and energy levels. You’ll also find that your sleep is deep and restful, so that when you wake in the morning, you feel ready for the day. I get many emails from students all over the world, sharing their experiences and I read them with great interest. I hope that one day, you will share your own personal story with me.