The extraordinary final test to become a Shaolin Master | Sacred Wonders - BBC
Survival sparring: how Shaolin monks train
Shaolin is a place of power. Few have not heard of this Buddhist temple in Central China. Many films have been filmed about the martial arts of the monastery, the most popular American hip-hop team Wu-Tang Clan and the cult Russian group of the 90s Kar-man sang about them. Characters from the famous video game Mortal Combat were also Shaolin monks.
The strength and endurance of the monastery's pupils inspire and amaze. What is happening behind the closed doors of the temple? Understanding how legendary Shaolin monks train and maintain their shape.
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Stretching and heavy loads
Since ancient times about Shaolin was legendary. No wonder the Chinese emperor Li Shimin in the 7th century turned to the monastery for help - in the end, it was the support of the warrior monks that helped him to stay on the throne. Even professional warriors around the world were afraid of the pupils of this monastery. And for good reason.
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The daily routine in Shaolin forces be horrified and admired. The day begins at 5 am with a two-hour meditation. Those who like to sleep longer will have a hard time here - punishment is provided for violation of the regime. As a rule, the guilty are beaten with sticks. Of course, for educational purposes.
After the meditation, stretching exercises follow. Every self-respecting Shaolin monk should be able to do the splits.
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After morning workouts, bathing in a mountain stream and massage with special herbs follow. All this helps the monks prepare for real stress. After all, before that there was only a warm-up, and the main classes were ahead.
Sparring on the brink of survival
The main training takes place during the day and is divided into two parts. First, the monks perform tasks aimed at developing strength and endurance, and then they practice martial arts. After lunch, there is an hour of free time - the only respite of the day.
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In the evening, real combat sparring takes place. They are both hand-to-hand and with the use of various types of weapons. The students of the monastery are fighting in full force. And specially trained people carefully monitor the process in order to intervene and stop the fight in case of a serious threat to health. This is the kind of sparring that is usually shown in Hollywood films about oriental martial arts.
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It is believed that there are five ancient fighting styles in Shaolin: style tiger, snake, crane, praying mantis and monkey. Each of them has a number of features that are characteristic of a patron animal. For example, a tiger is characterized by serious strength training, low stances, powerful strikes and straight movement. While the praying mantis is distinguished by accuracy and speed of strikes.
High endurance, but small muscle mass
It would seem that with such super-intense training, Shaolin monks should look like bodybuilders from the pages of glossy magazines. However, their muscle mass is not at all pronounced - most, on the contrary, look quite thin. And there is an explanation for this.
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The point is that Asians in general are not prone to gaining mass. They are ectomorphs by body type, and it is rather difficult for them to get better.
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Another reason lies in the Shaolin diet. Monks do not eat fish or meat and prefer food of exclusively plant origin. And without animal protein, gaining muscle mass is almost impossible. In addition, three daily workouts prevent the muscles from recovering. And without enough rest, muscles grow much slower.
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However, his lack of mass is more than compensated for by his amazing stamina. Shaolin monks believe that the main thing for fighting a battle is not the beauty of the muscles, but the mobility of the body and the ability to control it. A large mass, on the contrary, negatively affects maneuverability and only takes away energy.