Shaolin kung fu master Steve DeMasco brings you self-defense secrets straight from Shaolin Temple in this exclusive article. Learn how to take down an opponent, execute a neck break, counter a full-nelson attack and how to escape a mount!
When Western martial artists think of Shaolin Temple, the image they conjure up usually involves a bunch of bald Chinese monks bowing to a bronze statue of the Buddha and sweeping stone floors in the halls of their famous monastery. In their off hours, we imagine, they perform rigorous routines, play with exotic weapons and imitate animal movements as a way of practicing the ancient art of kung fu. And that’s fine. There is, however, another side to Shaolin training, one that the public seldom sees. It's been concealed for centuries — from tourists, from visiting Chinese martial artists and even from the run-of-the-mill monk. I came into contact with this other aspect of Shaolin training because of my connections with the abbot of the temple, who made me its cultural ambassador to America in 1999. What is this other side to Shaolin training? It doesn’t have a proper name, but I refer to it as “lethal Shaolin.” It’s the subset of kung fu techniques that can be categorized as pure self-defense moves. It’s always been my contention that if more people had access to these self-defense moves, Shaolin training would be huge because it’s one of the most effective self-defense subsystems on the planet. Currently, this aspect of Shaolin training is taught in depth only to high-level monks — men who can be trusted not to misuse the knowledge.
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- 1. It is the desire of the monks at the temple to remind the public that all the legends they’ve heard about Shaolin’s fighting prowess are true.
- 2. Any martial artist will attest that knowing the movements is one thing, but mastering them to the point at which they can be used in a fight is quite another. In other words, it will take a lot of practice under a qualified instructor for these techniques to be effective.