Shaolin Kung Fu Secret Fighting Exercises: Golden Dragon Hand!

The Shaolin Temple’s 72 Secret And Consummate Arts, also known as ‘Kungs’ or Fighting Exercises’, involve extreme training but can produce astonishing results. Golden Dragon Hand, an external power-training and palm-conditioning fighting exercise, is described. Practical details of training intensity and duration and of the simple basic, but very effective, traditional training-aids used are also given.

Golden Dragon Hand, one of the ’72 Secret Arts,’ has blocking and counter-attacking applications, augmenting defence, rather than being for outright attacking purposes.The Shaolin Temple’s Secret Arts, also known as ‘Kungs’ or ‘Fighting Exercises’, involve tremendous extremes of training but can produce astonishing results.

Actually, there are more than 72 Shaolin Temple Secret Arts-various authorities have produced different, equally authentic lists, although with much in common. Yang/Yin, Gang/Rou and Internal/External are descriptors used to Classify these Fighting Exercises or ‘Kungs’

‘Kungs’ involve mostly either Soft ‘Yin Rou Energy’ Training, (mainly Internal) or Hard ‘Yang Gang Power’ Training (mainly External) although a few involve both.

Golden Dragon Hand (sometimes referred to as Closed Plate Arts)

Technical Analysis

This is a Yang Gang External Power Training Exercise of the Palm.

A Shaolin maxim insists: ‘Palms are stronger than Fists!’: some woodcutters, it was noted of old in China, entered the forest without tools yet emerged with huge bunches of kindling all neatly arranged with sticks of a similar uniform length. Some could even produce a broom bare-handed from a single piece of bamboo, through mastery of this art. Its applications include Qin Na (‘seize and control’) and bare-hand vs weapon techniques, including disarms.


A bundle of 36 bamboo chopsticks should be bound together firmly at both ends by strong cord (black insulating tape does equally well I have found). Ensure these all point the same way (Chopsticks are always tapered). These can be easily and inexpensively acquired from your local Chinese Supermarket or shop–plastic ones are ideal!

The first stage of practice involves grasping both ends of the bundle, one in each hand, twisting these in opposite directions, reversing directions and twisting again until the arms tire. After a brief rest the exercise is repeated. The drill should be practised several times daily on a regular basis. Progress is indicated by ability to twist the bundle out of shape.

In the next stage the bundle is held in the middle between the two palms which rub it vigorously to-and-fro one clockwise and the other in anticlockwise fashion before the exercise is repeated in reverse. Signs of progress include: moving the bundle forwards and backwards through your hands whilst rubbing; cracking/clicking sounds and individual chopsticks sliding in and out of position, caused similarly. These stages take about two years.

The final stage requires a new bundle of Chopsticks: this time iron ones! China has moved onto stainless steel, Japan uses tin ones occasionally but in Korea these are very popular and can be obtained by mail order or from Korean shops. Stage two exercises are then repeated until the iron chopsticks are first, reduced in diameter and second, noticeably elongated due to the friction generated by protracted rubbing. This final stage may take two years or more.


In China, of old, some individuals could produce door frames and decorative iron-work in this fashion! However, great progress can me made by simply mastering the first two stages of Golden Dragon hand.

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