A young Shaolin boy goes and studies at the Shaolin Temple. His first training exercise is to slap the water in a basin.
The boy, perplexed, asks, "Why?"
The master said, just do it. Slap the water.
In the video above, artist Tobias Gremmler captures the fluidity of Chinese Kung Fu. You can observe the elegance of the movements as they flow and pause at the right time. It is refined chaos - adapting to an ever changing environment.
Life is a lot like that. We have to flow, change and adapt. The more skilled we are, the easier it looks and more powerful we become.
But there are principles at play that are subtle and go unnoticed to the untrained eye. If you look closely, you will see how the energy flows swiftly and easily. It achieves all things without effort.
The opponents strength becomes their weakness. An obstacle becomes the strategy.
Your source of strength comes from your mind. That may seem like a radical suggestion, after all, a person's power is greater when they are more muscular. So how is it possible that your source of strength comes from your mind?
If you look at things scientifically, the amount of muscular contraction is derived from your nervous system, which gets triggered by the brain. So the original source is the brain, where it sets everything in motion.
So, said in another way, your body is actually mental.
Depending on how much "effort" is applied is determined by the perceived efffort.
This is an idea I have been contemplating for a long time about what exactly is mental toughness.
I looked at what Navy SEALS did, I looked at what Shaolin Monks did, and athletes. I looked at a bunch of different areas trying to figure out what exactly is mental toughness.
I took me awhile to nail it down to a simple formula.
When you have a formula you can better understand it. You can use that as a framework so that when a situation comes up, where you need to be mentally tough you can recall the formula to figure out how you can utilize it.
What is mental toughness?
Breaking bricks with your hands are a way to test how powerful and conditioned your hands are. It is also about overcoming mental limits in your mind by literally breaking barriers.
You will want to be well conditioned before attempting to break a brick. Typically this involves a lot of hard qigong through Iron Palm Training.
Iron Palm training hardens the bones and toughens the skin so they are capable of breaking extremely hard surfaces, like stone and brick.
The video above demonstrates a more difficult style of brick breaking, which is taught by Master Wang. This is to test how explosive your strikes are, rather than about generating force.
If your strikes are not explosive enough, the brick will simply catapult off the ledge. It requires more skill and concentration.
There are easier methods to start with. The easiest method is to hold a brick over an edge, and hold it down with one hand. As you are holding it down, you focus and concentrate, then swing your other hand down hard on the top of the brick.
The way to train and prepare to break a brick is as follows...
About the blog
Luke Siljander began training with Master Wang in 2007. He and Master Wang want to share the value of Kung Fu.
Kung Fu is about the application of hard work throughout your life to better yourself and to gain mastery over your body and mind.