In last week's post I wrote about the 4 essentials for powerful kicks. Here I write about the 4th Essential: Shaolin Iron Leg.
Some students believe that if you want to make your shin and feet strong you need to kick hard things all the time but this is incorrect. If you want to make your leg hard then the first thing you need is good stamina, if you don’t have stamina it’s not possible for your leg to be strong as you won’t have energy. It’s like a car without petrol, it simply can’t move. After you have gained stamina you work on your flexibility and then your speed and power and only then are you ready for Iron Leg training.
The best way to warm up is to do the Si Bi Quan form from my Shaolin Workout 1 DVD or book. This form consists of two elements: stamp and punch. The more power you can use with the stamp, the more you will build the power of your leg muscles and bone. This movement is simple and useful. After doing this form you do bag work.
It’s best to kick different bags, some hard and some soft so that your body can get used to kicking different weights. Soft bags eat energy and if you have a powerful kick then you have to hold your power otherwise you may get an injury. This is all part of the training. When you go in the ring, people’s bodies are different and they move differently so it’s best to be as adaptable as you can when you train. Keep changing your combinations and the bags that you work on.
After we have kicked bags we then kick bamboo. Bamboo is better than wood because it is both soft and hard at the same time. If you have ever been into a bamboo forest, then you will have seen the trees bending with the direction of the wind and this is why they are incredibly strong.
When you embark on kicking bamboo you have to be careful. Never try this alone but always train under a qualified teacher. You need to have a good understanding of your body, take the training step by step and keep listening to your body.
When we do this hard training we also practice Qigong to look after our bodies and our legs. One of our Qigongs is called Bone Marrow Cleansing Qigong because it literally cleans our bone marrow. We use an Instant Health Massage brush to massage ourselves. This is the first step to body conditioning and it is a powerful way to open our meridian channels.
After we have finished our body conditioning we then use traditional tincture. I make my tincture every two years. It comes from a traditional recipe from the Shaolin Temple but there may be slight variations depending on the Shaolin Master's personal experience and the type of body conditioning that they do. It is very different from fight oil that many fighters use. Fight oil only penetrates the skin where as my body conditioning tincture goes right into the bones and helps to strengthen the bones, helps the blood to flow and protects the skin.
How To Use
All of these ingredients make your leg into a weapon but this doesn’t mean that you know how to use this weapon or that you are a good fighter, it just means that you have a sharp weapon. So you need to link your punch and kick together and learn how to trick people so that you can get through their defenses. How do you fight with different people? Some people have good kicks, others good knee, other good elbows. At the Shaolin Temple we usually choose one good traditional technique and combine that with our fighting punches and kicks. We then spar against many different opponents to test ourselves and hone our skill.
When we fight in the ring, the judge says start and no one knows what will happen. This is why we practice our fighting kicks over and over again and we imagine many different opponents so that we can be ready for anything and even though we have no control of the outcome, our training gives us an inner confidence. As John Wooden said, "Don’t worry about whether you’re better than somebody else, but never cease trying to be the best you can become. You have control over that; the other you don’t."
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