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Thread: Training Methods of 72 Arts of Shaolin by Jin Jing Zhong

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    Training Methods of 72 Arts of Shaolin by Jin Jing Zhong

    Dear everyone,

    I browsed through Jin Jing Zhong's Training Methods of 72 Arts of Shaolin which is a modern (1934) classic briefly going over the training methods for 72 Shaolin Arts of the time. The book is published and apparently also translated by a Kungfulibrary.com team. The exercises were mostly external and grueling, indicating the level of rigor and hardship the Chinese martial artists may have gone through for attaining some fighting prowess. The training certainly was very bitter, but sometimes such Kungfu skills were needed to make a difference between life and death. Any internal dimensions are barely mentioned even for more internal arts, and these can be summed up as having a quiescent and peaceful mind, which we know to facilitate energy flow. Among the arts is included the infamous Five Poison Hand which Sigung suspected might not be an actual Shaolin Art at all. However, the training method described here in this book does not mention anything about getting stung or bitten by venomous animals. Quite a few of the training methods also propose using lead in tinctures exposed to bare skin, which can definitely be something very hazardous to health, whether doing genuine Chi Kung in compensation or not. To anyone wishing to follow the books methods I encourage to use abundant common sense and not to dabble with the training methods carelessly!

    The book makes it very clear that only dedicated students who persevere within its set moral guidelines may be successful. Training Kungfu, whether externally or internally, requires a clear mind and peaceful heart. Without severity and respect to the instructions and the tradition that came up with them, the eventual cost of faulty training or moral deviation will result in great harm.

    Some of the book's 72 Arts are already included in the 72 Shaolin Arts of our School, but not necessarily under the same name. For the current standards that our training offers, there are not too many exercises left in the book that offer us anything new at all. Most are completely obsolete, which is especially true for anything related to energy projection, finger strength, and body shielding (iron) exercises that have excellent internal alternatives. No need to apply medicated wines either! Another shortcoming of many of the exercises is that the resulting force is hard to control, therefore making it easy to cause accidental damage to innocent people and utilities you didn't wish to break. Those that I see offering even remote chances of meaningful development are as follows:

    3. Striking with Foot
    5. Ringing Round a Tree (Embracing a Tree)
    8. Iron Head
    11. Sweeping with an Iron Broon (Iron Sweeping Legs)
    19. Swimming and Diving Skill (Swimming Art)
    20. Sluice Shutter weighing 1000 JINs (Thoudand-Pound Weight)
    23. Louhan's Exercise (Night Vision)
    24. Lizard Climbs the Wall (Lizard Art)
    39. Exercise for Groin (Golden Cicada)
    49. Method of Drawing in Yin (Drawing in Testicles)
    58. Pole of Cypress (Cypress Formation)
    63. Skill of Nephrite Belt (Jade Belt Art)
    69. Skill "Bag" (Stomach Art)

    Out of these I could only see myself gladly training 5, 20, and 65 and then with some reservation 11, 58 and 69. In case that sparring enthusiasm strikes, 39 and 49 would be great additions.

    Uprooting a tree seems something that could be reasonably translated into the context of internal training, i.e. letting the chi flow to do the work and not work into exhaustion as the original instructions demand. Training the art for two or three years seems a fair investment for being able to comfortably lift as heavy objects as 250-350kg which the instructions give. The Thousand-Pound Weight seems even more effective in this regard with its 500kg lifting and suspending force, and the set up would be trivial with modern gym equipment. I could definitely try either of these once I'm able to comfortably hold 30mins of Golden Bridge and have the resources for a set up. These types of exercises that train internal force to simulate formidable physical strength are highly useful in my humble opinion.

    The Iron Leg exercise seems also something that could be trained internally with diving weights tied around legs, hence it becomes a variant of 30 Punches.

    Some exercises like Night Vision seem very handy even for modern standards, especially if you do any type of night work, but simply dedication up two hours every day in reaching it seems quite wasteful use of time when you can just carry a flashlight.

    What surprised me the most was that the so-called Stomach Art seems to be nothing else than the fabled Cotton Belly! The training instructions seem innocuous and simple enough, but I doubt many would actually covet this art so much as to try learn it without an expert's supervision. Besides, training it would take a long time as usual for the book's methods, which is not cost-effective in our standards.

    The book could have used a bit more polishing and editing in terms of language and grammatical errors, but these are small complaints considering the fact that such a niche classic is translated at all. One thing that really could have made the book better is insightful commentary by a genuine Chi Kung or Kungfu master who knows their art and gives enough emphasis on learning from a living teacher among other useful tips.

    With sincere respect,
    Olli
    Last edited by understanding; 13th August 2017 at 04:06 PM.
    On my way to understanding the greatness of gratitude.
    Thank you Sifu, Sigung, and Past Masters!

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    Postscript

    Dear everyone,

    I wanted to add that it was very courageous and wise of Mr. Jin Jing Zhong to include his own experiences, both good and bad, on few arts. Of particular interest was his unplanned discontinuation of the Force of Eagle's Claws, which resulted in deformed fingers. Yikes!



    May this be a warning for visitors who think there are no real dangers involved in faulty training.

    With sincere respect,
    Olli
    On my way to understanding the greatness of gratitude.
    Thank you Sifu, Sigung, and Past Masters!

  3. #3
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    A Commentary and Further Thoughts

    Dear everyone,

    Sigung has seen my review and extremely kindly gave us some important comments. I have highlighted the salient points, so that they get your attention.

    Jin Jing Zhong’s “72 Arts of Shaolin” reveals many secrets, but one must guard against learning the arts from his book. The picture of a deformed hand shown by Olli is a good warning.

    Jin Jing Zhong reproduced his work from a classic, and someone translated it into English. It is worthwhile to know some important points about classics.

    1. Classics are not teaching manuals, where one can learn from them, no matter how well written they are.

    2. Classics were written to preserve arcane knowledge, and were usually written for those who had practiced the respective arts from living masters.

    3. Classics, written in a classical language, are very concise. Only the core information is given. The introduction and the conclusion, which are very important, are usually left out.

    For example, if a world top footballer writes a classic on football, he would describe the football techniques he used. He would not, for example, mention that one has to change into proper attire, get a ball, and enter a football field. This is the introduction.

    For the conclusion, he would not mention that one should have a shower, and change back to ordinary clothing.

    Even if one knows the introduction and the conclusion, which are usually not mentioned in classics, he (or she) might not understand what the instructors mean, though he may know the dictionary meaning of all the words used.

    Let us take two simple examples. Sink chi to the dan tian. Channel chi to the hand to hit a sandbag, or to the leg to kick a stone. Unless he has been trained in genuine kungfu or chi kung, which are rare nowadays, he will not know how to sink chi to the dan tian, or send chi to his hand or leg.

    4. “Never sacrifice one’s health” is a very important principle in kungfu and chi kung training. If one, who has no prior experience, learns from a classic, he is very likely to sacrifice his health.

    5. A practitioner should have a master to consult when in doubt. Those learning from classics usually do not have living masters to help them.

    6. If the training goes wrong, a practitioner or his master should know remedial medicine or exercise. This is usually not available when one learns from a classic.

    Best regards,
    Sigung.
    Personally, I think that it's great that we have this type of information such as the Training Methods of the 72 Arts of Shaolin. Most valuably it's a historical account of its time and martial arts culture, but it does also give a small peek on what is humanly possible. It certainly gives a good view of how good our arts at the Shaolin Wahnam already are for covering so much of classical skills. In terms of getting practical results the book is not a good tool, and I want to emphasize that the perspective I offered in the review was for the members of our School who are already exposed to similar types of internal training.

    A common saying tells us that a little knowledge is dangerous. Some of the results described are almost too good to be true, just like the various Lightness Arts. I have enough experience in internal arts and additional imagination to realize the difficulty of learning such an art even from a qualified master, so it trying to learn it from a book would be entirely out of question.

    Like Sigung has taught us to differentiate between techniques and skills, it's also vital to realize the difference between a method and the result it is supposed to endow. Now I realize that I could have been much clearer. Even though I had expressed enthusiasm for one particular result indicated in the book, I still wouldn't want to train any of these methods on my own because I don't have to. I always have Sifu, Sipak, and Sigung in mind when it comes to training Shaolin Arts: their expertise is simply irreplaceable. Some of the methods seem simple, but it's possible that a master's experience could easily tell a safer and a more meaningful method to accomplish the same goal.

    One particular phrase stands out to me right now "I could definitely try...", which is actually a very dangerous and surprisingly common thought in Western culture and also in my own thinking, which I regrettably realize only now in its full scale. Somehow it's still so very easy to forget that the wisdom and the skills of the masters was not by random trials, but a consequence of first spontaneously realizing a skill as a result of good wholesome training, and only then transmitting it to deserving students. With that I would like to offer profuse apologies to Sifu, Sipak, and Sigung for trying to be smarter than the master. I'm very sorry, but then I'm super happy for realizing this mistake sooner than later.

    With sincere gratitude,
    Olli
    Last edited by understanding; 14th August 2017 at 06:13 AM. Reason: a few errors
    On my way to understanding the greatness of gratitude.
    Thank you Sifu, Sigung, and Past Masters!

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