A Fish With Lungs Is The Ancestor To What Animal Chinese Approaches to Body Conditioning for the Martial Arts

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Chinese Approaches to Body Conditioning for the Martial Arts

Western notions of body conditioning focus primarily on strengthening the superficial elements of the torso and limbs. Traditional Chinese methods involve surprising extremes of this, complemented by comparable expertise in conditioning the interior of the body, an area of ​​which the West is unaware.

Yin and Yang balance; Optimal body conditioning

In the familiar Taiji diagram, the white Yang ‘fish’ represents the outer structure of the body (visible in gym mirrors etc.) while the black Yin ‘fish’ represents the invisible interior of the body. Only areas of the body are Yang-charged and an unhealthy imbalance occurs, exacerbated by the degree and intensity of the effort involved.

The outwardly focused, materialistic West overemphasizes the conditioning of the Yang body. The East, however, has long practiced conditioning the body’s internal (Yin) along with its external counterpart (Yang) as part of a balanced approach to this matter.

The former, in fact, is considered superior, more difficult to achieve, and a more advanced martial achievement, while both together are considered healthy and balanced ideals. Yin conditioning being more difficult to learn and apply, many Asian Wu Shu/Kung Fu students begin with external Yang conditioning and progress to internal Yin conditioning as skill and experience levels increase. Not everyone makes it that far.

Methods of external conditioning (Yang).

This is sometimes described as external martial Qigong (wei dan).

i. Wu Shu massage

Shaolin Changchuan ‘Longfist’ Kung Fu Wu Shu Massage can benefit all martial arts styles. Used after (or before) competition or intense training, for example, it ensures the optimal condition of the physical body for the next intense period of activity. Prolonged regular practice, significantly increasing the external health and elasticity of the body, has obvious anti-aging effects.

Many techniques include counter-clockwise massage, part of External Martial Qigong (Wei Dan). The conditioning of the outer body thus complements the inner qigong (Nei Dan) of the inner body. Both when practiced together represent progress towards the ideal mentioned above.

ii. Self-defeating arts

A Yang Example of the Secret Arts of the Shaolin Temple Self-beating increases the body’s resistance to external stress and trauma. It conforms to the maxim of Shaolin Kung Fu: “Before practicing the ability to strike others, first learn the art of striking.”

While the Self Beating Arts (pai da gong) do not approach the farthest extremes of external Shaolin body conditioning, it is an essential prerequisite for progressing toward them.

Methods of conditioning the inner body (Yin).

It is sometimes described as Martial Internal Qigong (nei dan).

i. Conditioning of internal organs

Spleen, Lungs, Kidneys, Liver and Heart, the five main internal muscular organs are strengthened and taught to work together systematically through the 5 Internal Elements Kung Fu and Qigong. This difficult and prolonged process has incredible health benefits and increases endurance and stamina, willpower, concentration and more.

ii. Iron Cloth Sack Arts

This Internal Kung Fu Exercise (bu dai gong) is a yin example of the Shaolin Secret Arts. This develops the abdomen into a flexible and elastic container half filled with air – the aforementioned ‘Clothes Bag’. Sometimes known as ‘Mee Luck’ or the Universal Bag of Air, those who master this Art can defend themselves against any attack, illustrating the life- and health-preserving effects of the body’s internal conditioning.

External Plus internal body conditioning

72 The Secret and Perfect Arts of the Shaolin Temple, the last range of body conditioning exercises are classified as either Yang/External or Yin/Internal. This underscores the importance and interconnectedness of the two complementary approaches to conditioning.

The 5 Elements of Internal and External Qigong, always key ingredients in Shaolin Temple Kung Fu training, provide the foundation for more specialized conditioning exercises or ‘kungs’ to be built upon later. Shaolin’s structured, integrated, mutually reinforcing, Yin/Yang approach to body conditioning makes this ideal healthy and balanced.

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