The dharma cudgel, also called Shaolin hand cane, is a traditional martial art tool unique to the Shaolin Temple. It is usually made of sandalwood or other durable hardwood that has great ductility and hardness.
Dharma cudgel is a traditional martial art instrument of the Shaolin Temple. /CGTN Photo
The dharma cudgel is based on the Shaolin cudgel, but with a handle. Combined with various cudgel, hook, sword and knife positions, the moves are powerful and flexible. Practitioners need to use their feet and hands together. Therefore, practicing the cudgel requires certain basic skills.
Practicing Shaolin martial arts. /CGTN Photo
In Chinese wuxia movies and novels, monks in the Shaolin Temple can "fly over walls." These stories made Shaolin martial arts seem mysterious and unfathomable. Shi Yancen is the leader of monk team No. 2 in the Shaolin Temple. For him, real life in Shaolin isn't possible without strict training.
Shi Yancen is the leader of monk team No. 2 at Shaolin Temple. /CGTN Photo
Using the handle, practitioners can wield the dharma cudgel to hook opponents and hit them up close. Dodge first, and then fight back. It needs the strength of arms and physical coordination. Tossing stone padlocks, carrying logs… Repeating the basic skills again and again every day is considered part of the Zen training.
Tossing stone is beneficial to increase the strength of arms. /CGTN Photo
"To practice dharma cudgel well requires not only the moves, but more of the cultivation of Zen. Zen teaches us to think. It calms the mind down and keeps us focused," says Shi Yancen.
In addition to practice, daily activities such as farming and weeding are also part of Zen. The Shaolin Temple has a saying: A day without work, a day without food. In the process of meditation, Shi Yancen found that kung fu means not only practicing unique skills, it is a process of finding peace. Know yourself, rediscover yourself and understand yourself. Only in this way can we make a self-breakthrough.
Farming is a process of finding peace. /CGTN Photo
"We live a self-sufficient life. It is also a kind of self-cultivation to get rid of the distracting thoughts. The more you calm the mind down, the more you can harvest," says Shi Yancen.
Shaolin Zen is a kind of self-cultivation. /CGTN Photo
Shi Yancen started his life in the temple in 2000. Having practiced martial arts and Zen for years, they have become his faith. Keep patient, keep moving, and you can press forward with indomitable will. This is the real essence of Shaolin kung fu.