72 Shaolin Martial Arts


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The following is a list of martial arts practised in Shaolin Kung Fu. Although they are commonly called “72 Shaolin martial arts”, they are four different versions of these 72 skills, hence there are actually more than 72 in total.

Diamond Finger

The Diamond Finger (一指金剛法 Yī zhǐ jīngāng fǎ; literally: One Finger Vajra Skill) allows the practitioner to cause damage to an opponent’s internal organs by knocking at the opponent’s chest. The practitioner trains by striking hard objects with his finger repeatedly over time to increase striking power. The skill usually requires three years to master.[1]

Double Locks

The Double Locks (雙鎖功, Shuāng suǒ gōng) allows the practitioner to block attacks from blunt weapons with his bare arms. During training, the practitioner knocks his forearms at each other and then hits his shins and feet with his forearms repeatedly.[1]

Foot Striking Skill

The Foot Striking Skill (足射功, Zú shè gōng, literally: Foot Shooting Skill) allows the practitioner to inflict damage on an opponent using his toes. During training, the practitioner uses stones to strike his toes. The weight of the stones used increases as his training progresses.[1]

Nail-Pulling Skill

The Nail-Pulling Skill (拔釘功, Bá dīng gōng) allows the practitioner to attack his opponent’s acupuncture points by using locks with the thumb, forefinger and middle finger. Training involves pulling out regular nails from a board of unabior jujube wood. Rustier nails are used as the training progresses. It is common to get blisters during training.[1]

Tree-Uprooting Skill

The Tree-Uprooting Skill (抱樹功, Bào shù gōng; literally: Tree-Hugging Skill) allows the practitioner to lift a weight of 250–350 kg with both arms. During training, the practitioner attempts to uproot a tree several times a day. Mastery of the skill is achieved when he succeeds in uprooting the tree.[1]

Four Part Exercise

The Four Part Exercise (四段功, Sì duàn gōng) is one of the foundation skills of Shaolin martial arts. The exercise consists of a set of four basic movements that helps the practitioner to focus Qi.[1]

One Finger of Zen Meditation

The One Finger of Zen Meditation (一指禪功, Yī zhǐ chán gōng) allows the practitioner to cause a vascular spasm to an opponent with only a weak blow. The injuries sustained by the opponent cannot be cured without special medicine. The training process involves many stages. Firstly, a weight is hung and the practitioner pokes at it with little force using his finger. He repeats the exercise until the weight moves without his finger touching it. After this, lamps are lit at a distance of six to seven meters away from the practitioner and he has to extinguish the flames with his finger. In the next stage, the lamps are covered with paper shades and glass shades in the subsequent stage. The practitioner is deemed to have mastered the skill once the flames in glass lamps can be extinguished simply by poking at them with his finger.[1]

Iron shirt

(鐵衫, Tiě shān) is a form of hard style martial arts exercise for protecting the body from damage. The training involves a series of exercises with stances, herbs, Qigong and body movements to use the body’s natural energy (Qi) to reinforce its structural strength. Practitioners believe that directing energy to parts of the body can reinforce these parts in absorbing the impact of blows. A Shaolin practitioner lies on a stump or support tablets of granite on his chest during training to toughen his body.

Iron Head Skill

The Iron Head Skill (鐵頭功, Tiě tóu gōng) is designed to allow the practitioner to resist attacks on his head. During training, the practitioner wraps layers of fabric around his head and rams his head into a hard surface repeatedly. Incrementally, layers of fabric are removed as he progresses. A famous practitioner named Hong Chan could easily break a stone tablet and he could walk quickly with a stone weighing 170 kg on his head when he was 80 years old.[2]

A Series of Blows

A Series of Blows (排打功, Pái dǎ gōng) is similar to Iron shirt except that it is purely external and contains none of the internal elements of the latter. During training, a practitioner hits his body with a block of wood, then a brick, and subsequently a block of iron as he progresses. His body will become invulnerable to bare-hand strikes after mastering the skills but the practitioner is not protected from weapon-based attacks.[1]

Iron Broom Sweeping Skill

The Iron Broom Sweeping Skill (鐵掃帚功, Tiě sàozhǒu gōng) allows the practitioner to break an opponent’s bones and tear his muscles with a kick. In the first stage of training, the practitioner attempts to remain in a half-squatting, half-standing position (called “Horse stance”) for two hours. He will kick poles that increase in size as his training progresses and finally a tree. He is deemed to have mastered the skill once he can kick a tree down.[1]

Bronze Gravel Palm

The Bronze Gravel Palm (銅砂掌, Tóng shā zhǎng), a.k.a. Bamboo Leaf Hand (竹葉手, Zhú yè shǒu), allows the practitioner to break objects and cause injury to an opponent. Training methods include hitting a bag filled with iron filings with a palm heel strike. A 15 kg bag is used initially, and its weight increases until 60 kg as the training progresses. The practitioner is deemed to have mastered the skill once he can hit the 60 kg bag at full force continuously without showing signs of weariness.[1]

Snake Form Movement

The Snake Form Movement (蛇行術, Shéxíng shù), a.k.a. Centipede Leap (蜈蚣跳, Wúgōng tiào), helps the practitioner increase the power of his fingers and toes and the speed of his jumps. During training, the practitioner does regular push-ups on the palms of his hands, before progressing to do on his fists and three fingers. Mastery of skill is when the practitioner is able to do one-finger push-ups.

Lifting a Thousand Jin

Lifting a Thousand Jin (提千斤, Tí qiānjīn) allows the practitioner to injure an opponent simply by grasping the opponent. During training, the practitioner holds weights weighing 10 Jin and the weights become heavier as he progresses. The practitioner is deemed to have mastered the skill once he can grasp a weight of 50 to 60 Jin for about an hour with his fingers.

Deity’s Palm

The Deity’s Palm (仙人掌, Xiānrénzhǎng) training process involves the practitioner striking a wooden object repeatedly using four fingers initially, followed by striking a hard stone repeatedly. The practitioner is deemed to have mastered the skill once he can strike the stone hard enough to create a dent in it.[1]

Hard and Soft Skill

The Hard and Soft Skill (剛柔法, Gāng róu fǎ) training process involves the practitioner performing blows at a bundle of spoiled paper repeatedly. Initially, a bundle of paper about 66 cm long is placed above a large wooden table with fixed outer boards and removable inner boards. The practitioner strikes the bundle of paper with his right hand while holding a cord with his left. He switches hands later. The bundle weighs about 10 kg initially and lead weights are added subsequently as he progresses, until the entire bundle weights about 50 kg. The inner boards are also removed in progressive stages until only the fixed outer boards remain. The practitioner is deemed to have mastered the skill once he can hit the bundle of paper over the large gap in the boards and return it with his other hand.[1]

Cinnabar Palm

The Cinnabar Palm (硃砂掌, Zhūshā zhǎng) is said to yield great benefits to the practitioner but such claims are not supported by modern science.[citation needed] During training, the practitioner fills a vessel with sand and continuously rubs his hands in the sand until he is worn out. As he progresses, he moves his hands further away from the sand until he can move the sand even when they are about 30 cm away. After this, the sand is replaced with an iron weight and subsequently, heavier iron balls. Mastery is achieved when the practitioner can move the iron balls without touching them. This skill is said to take 15 years to master. Upon mastery, the practitioner can cause his opponent to die within 10–15 days after striking them with his palm, even when he is at a distance away from his opponent.[1]

Crouching Tiger Skill

The Crouching Tiger Skill (臥虎功, Wò hǔ gōng) helps to increase the power of the practitioner’s hands, feet, fingers and toes. The exercise is similar to standard push-ups with the exception that you must raise your body 30 cm above the ground, shift yourself backward and then downward to 10 cm then move forward and upward again to 30 cm and continue.[3] Initially, the exercise is performed on the palms of the hands and subsequently on the fists before progressing to perform on fingers and toes for balance. In the final stage, the practitioner does push-ups using only three fingers of each hand and one toe. At this stage, heavy weights are also added to the practitioner’s back. Mastery of the skill is attained once the practitioner can perform the push-up with a weight of about 50 kg on his back for a period of time.[1]

Swimming and Diving Skill

The Swimming and Diving Skill (泅水術, Qiú shuǐ shù) helps to improve the practitioner’s swimming skills. The training methods for this skill are similar to those used by modern competitive swimmers. The only difference between them is that, Shaolin practitioners focus their Qi to increase their swimming power. Some movements adopted include dog-paddling, backstroke style, diving and some underwater combat techniques.[1]

Sluice Shutter Weighing 1000 Jin

The Sluice Shutter Weighing 1000 Jin (千斤閘, Qiānjīn zhá) helps to improve the practitioner’s physical strength. The practitioner begins training by remaining in the “horse stance” for a period of time while raising his hands upwards. He will balance progressively heavier weights on his head subsequently. The weights are replaced with a heavy sluice shutter attached to two wooden poles in the final stage. Mastery of the skill is attained when the practitioner can balance a 500 kg sluice shutter on his head.[1]

Gold Bell Shield

This is a hard type of martial arts exercise that is considered to be complicated and difficult, but important. A practitioner begins training by repeatedly striking himself in the body with a mallet covered with soft things. Later, he progresses to striking himself with a wooden mallet, and finally, an iron mallet. Tinctures are used after every session to heal from damage. If a practitioner trains in this method for two to three years, punches, kicks, and even sword blows will have little to no effect on him.[1]


  1. Gold Bell Shield (金鐘罩, Jīn zhōng zhào)
  2. Finger Locking Skill (鎖指功, Suǒ zhǐ gōng)
  3. Arhat Skill (羅漢功, Luóhàn gōng)
  4. The Lizard Scaling the Wall (壁虎游牆術, Bìhǔ yóu qiáng shù)
  5. Whip Power Skill (鞭劲功, Biān jìn gōng)
  6. Pipa Skill (琵琶功, Pípá gōng)
  7. Falling Star Pole (流星樁, Liúxīng zhuāng)
  8. Plum Blossom Pole (梅花樁, Méihuā zhuāng)
  9. Stone Padlock Skill (石鎖功, Shísuǒ gōng)
  10. Iron Arm Skill (鐵臂功, Tiě bì gōng)
  11. Projectile Skill (彈子功, Dànzǐ gōng)
  12. Soft Bones Skill (柔骨功, Róu gǔ gōng)
  13. Toad Skill (蛤蟆功, Háma gōng)
  14. Curtain-Piercing Skill (穿帘功, Chuān lián gōng)
  15. Eagle Claw Skill (鷹爪功, Yīng zhǎo gōng)
  16. Iron Bull Skill (鐵牛功, Tiě niú gōng)
  17. Eagle Wings Skill (鷹翼功, Yīng yì gōng)
  18. Sun Rays Hand (陽光手, Yángguāng shǒu)
  19. Groin-Protection Skill (門襠功, Mén dāng gōng)
  20. Iron Bag Skill (鐵帶功, Tiě dài gōng)
  21. Truth-Revealing Skill (揭諦功, Jiē dì gōng)
  22. Tortoise Back Skill (龜背功, Guī bèi gōng)
  23. Deft Jumps Skill (蹿縱術, Cuān zòng shù)
  24. Light Body Skill (輕身術, Qīng shēn shù)
  25. Iron Knee Skill (鐵膝功, Tiě xī gōng)
  26. Jumping Technique (跳躍法, Tiàoyuè fǎ)
  27. Iron Gravel Palm (鐵砂掌, Tiěshā zhǎng)
  28. String Pulling (一線穿, Yīxiàn chuān)
  29. Yin-Absorbing Skill (吸陰功, Xī yīngōng)
  30. Golden Gravel Palm (金砂掌, Jīnshā zhǎng), a.k.a. Rubbing Skill (磨擦術, Mócā shù)
  31. Stone Pillar Skill (石柱功, Shízhù gōng)
  32. Impenetrable by Spears and Broadswords Skill (槍刀不入法, Qiāng dāo bù rù fǎ)
  33. Flight Skill (飛行功, Fēixíng gōng)
  34. Five Poisons, Gravel-Chasing Palm (五毒追砂掌, Wǔ dú zhuī shā zhǎng]]]), a.k.a. Five Poisons Hand (五毒手, Wǔ dúshǒu)
  35. Water Separation Skill (分水功, Fēn shuǐ gōng)
  36. Flying Up a Roof and Walking on the Wall Skill (飛檐走壁法, Fēiyánzǒubì fǎ)
  37. Somersaulting Skill (翻騰術, Fānténg shù)
  38. The Conqueror’s Elbow (霸王肘, Bàwáng zhǒu)
  39. Flower-Pinching Skill (拈花功, Niān huā gōng)
  40. Mountain-Pushing Palm (推山掌, Tuī shān zhǎng)
  41. Horse Saddle Skill (馬鞍功, Mǎ’ān gōng)
  42. Nephrite Belt Skill (玉帶功, Yùdài gōng)
  43. Yin Fist Skill (陰拳功, Yīn quán gōng)
  44. Sandbag Skill (沙包功, Shābāo gōng)
  45. Stone Piercing Skill (點石功, Diǎn shí gōng)
  46. Mountain Moving Skill (拔山功, Bá shān gōng)
  47. Praying Mantis Claw (螳螂爪, Tángláng zhǎo)
  48. Cloth Bag Skill (布袋功, Bùdài gōng)
  49. Guanyin‘s Palm (觀音掌, Guānyīn zhǎng)
  50. Pot-Lifting Skill (上罐功, Shàng guàn gōng)
  51. Iron Beads Bag (鐵珠袋, Tiě zhū dài)
  52. Whirlwind Palm (旋風掌, Xuànfēng zhǎng)
  53. Demon Slaying Sword (斬魔劍, Zhǎn mó jiàn)
  54. Empty Fist (玄空拳, Xuán kōngquán)
  55. Golden Shovel Finger (金鏟指, Jīn chǎn zhǐ)
  56. Running on Plank Skill (跑板功, Pǎo bǎn gōng)
  57. Dodging Skill (閃戰法, Shǎn zhàn fǎ)
  58. Golden Broadsword, Palm Exchanging Skill (金刀換掌功, Jīn dāo huàn zhǎng gōng)
  59. Flying on Land Skill (陸地飛行術, Lùdì fēixíng shù)
  60. Thousand Layers of Paper Skill (千層紙功, Qiān céng zhǐ gōng)
  61. Wind-Chasing Palm (追風掌, Zhuīfēng zhǎng)
  62. Soft Skill (軟玄功, Ruǎn xuán gōng)

Jin conversion

jin is a Chinese unit of measure equal to 500g, or approximately 1.1 lb.


  1. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Zhong, Jin Jing (1934). Training Methods of 72 Arts of Shaolin. Tianjin.
  2. ^ http://kaleidoscope.cultural-china.com/en/9Kaleidoscope3565.html
  3. ^ Authentic Shaolin Heritage: Training Methods of 72 Arts of Shaolin

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