10 Mind-Blowing Shaolin Monk Skills That Are Superhuman-Like

Martial art enthusiasts are familiar with the extraordinary powers displayed by Shaolin monks. The monks are intensely trained in 72 skills. Moreover, they learn to use 36 different weapons and pick two animal movements and styles to specialize in. What amazes people are the superhuman qualities of these monks. From breaking stone boulders with their bare hands to doing a headstand on just one finger, we bring to you 10 such mind-blowing Shaolin Monk skills. Read on to find out more!

1. Inverse handstand with just one index finger. To train their fingers, Shaolin monks practice finger-punching on trees.

Performing an inversion stand on two index fingers have been common in the Shaolin Kung-Fu world for some time now. But there’s another incredibly rare Shaolin skill that involves balancing oneself on just one single finger! To perform this rare skill, the monk first balances himself on his outstretched fingers. He has one index finger stretched out on one hand and all the fingers stretched out on the other. Next, he pushes himself up into an inverted position with the hand that has all the fingers outstretched, balancing himself on just the one outstretched index finger on the other hand. In the video above is monk Hal-Tark performing the single finger stand. He brought this “Finger Skill” to Chicago for the first time about 50 years ago.

A tree used for Shaolin finger punching
A tree used for Shaolin finger punching. Image Credit: REBRN

The reason behind the Shaolin Monks’ incredible finger strength is their intense training. They train for years to make their fingers as hard as iron. A known ritual that is being practiced in the Shaolin temple is finger-punching on trees. The punching by the monks over the years has led to the creation of 2-inch deep indents on the trees around the Shaolin monastery. (1, 2)

2. Shattering glass with just a tiny needle.

For the majority of people, it is hard to even break glass with bare hands let alone with a single throw of a needle. But the Shaolin Monks have performed the impossible. Above is a slo-mo video that captures this amazing feat.

In order to understand how it is possible for the glass to shatter with a needle, we need to get deep into the chemical bonds of glass. Glass is very rigid and does not crack easily. But because of its strange chemical structure, when a crack appears on a glass, it makes the glass weak. Moreover, the trick is not to bend the needle under pressure while throwing it. So what the Shaolin Monks do is throw the needle with immense force but taking care not to bend it. Once the rigid needle strikes the glass and creates a deep crack, the force is distributed throughout the glass and it breaks. (source)

3. After years of practice of hitting their skulls on various materials, the skulls of the monks become as hard as rocks and even a drill cannot penetrate.

Begining at an early age, Shaolin Monks train to make their skulls hard. They bang their skull against various materials starting with maybe a bag of sand and advancing on to wooden logs or iron weights. After years of practice, their skulls basically turn into rocks. The hardness of the skull can be estimated from the fact that even an electric drill cannot penetrate it.

The amusing part about this skill is that the monks are not injured even after holding the drill on their skull for almost 10 seconds. There is not a single streak of blood, only a bright red spot where the drill had been earlier. As amusing as this sounds, this skill should not be performed at home by anyone reading this article! (source)

4. Training their testicles by dragging an iron weight, such as rollers, around.

Shaolin Kung-Fu involves numerous Iron Body training techniques. These techniques are basically used to train the vulnerable body parts into being as hard as iron. One such vulnerable body part in a man is their private parts. Shaolin monks train to make their private parts resistant to impact from kicks or knee butts. The practice involves stimulating tissue blood flow at the concerned area. The training also improves flexibility and resilience of the concerned area. Gradually, the levels of stimulation are increased and the most vulnerable parts of the male anatomy become as hard as iron. (source)

5. Sitting in a squat position with joined hands, balanced on two pillars with a sharp bamboo stick just below them and a bowl on their head, for 2 hours.

Known as the “Monk Pillar Skill,” this skill involves core and leg strength along with full body balance. The monks stand on two pillars with one foot on each pillar. They then sit in a squatting posture. And that’s not all, in some cases, they hold two bowls filled with water, one in each of their hands, and a third on their head. Other objects, such as oil lamps, are also sometimes used in place of water bowls. This skill is done for almost two hours and the entire body is kept still or else the objects would tumble down. (source)

6. In “Drunk Lila Skill,” a monk camouflages himself as a drunk person. He then holds the opponent, on the pretension of being drunk, and severely injures him.

Who would have thought that camouflaging as a drunk man could turn into a Kung-Fu skill? The Shaolin Monks showed how! The “Drunk Lila Skill” is a special skill in which a monk acts like a drunk person. The practice involves lifting heavy water cans and moving around with them like a drunk person. When the skill is performed in a fight or during defense, the monk would pretend to be drunk and hold the opponent tight as if he was lifting him. He just wouldn’t let go until and unless the opponent is severely injured.

This skill is one of the most vital Shaolin skills. The training involves strengthening the arms and fingers. (source)

7. A single monk has the ability to withstand being pricked by multiple spears, all at the same time.

A Shaolin Monk suspending himself on spears
A Shaolin Monk suspending himself on spears. Image Credit: The Bronx Journal

The Internet is full of videos with Shaolin Monks hanging effortlessly on top of sharp spears or bending spears with just their neck. There have been debates on whether these special skills portrayed by the monks are real or just mere stage tricks. Many believe them to be tricks that can be performed by anyone with proper practice. For example, in case of the breaking or bending a spear with the neck, some people believe that the trick lies in the spear itself. The spears are not as strong as the real ones and are created solely for the purpose of the act. On the other hand, many people believe that the years the Shaolin Monks put into their training are what enables them to perform such superhuman feats. (1, 2)

8. Another mind-blowing skill is the ability to create extreme suction in the lower abdomen area. 

In the above video, the monk creates immense suction on his lower abdomen and attaches a bowl completely to his stomach. Known as the “Stable Strength Skill,” only a few across the world are capable of creating such extreme suction that even eight people cannot separate the bowl from the monk’s stomach.
Mental strength is an important aspect when it comes to performing the stomach suction skill. Shaolin Monks undergo years of mental training to become a true practitioner of this unique martial arts. Moreover, mental training goes deeper than physical training. The mind needs to be prepared to accept the challenges and hardships of the Shaolin techniques. Once the monks attain the desired mental awareness, they can unlock Chi, the true source of a Shaolin monk’s strength. (source)

9. Lifting an entire table, with items on it, with just the mouth and teeth.

Iron Body training might be one of the hardest training regimens in the world. The Shaolin monks practice for hours on a daily basis for many years. For some, it takes a lifetime to achieve the desired results of having a body as hard as iron. And it’s not just the arms, fingers, legs, and skull. They even train their mouth and teeth.

Normal people, like us, find it difficult to lift an entire table by hand. But the mouths and teeth of Shaolin monks are so strong that they can lift an entire table with just their mouth and teeth and even carry it around. This is another superhuman feat made possible by the Shaolin monks. (1, 2)

10. Smashing multiple boulders, stacked on top of each other, by just hitting the top boulder with the palm of their hand.

This is yet another skill developed from the Iron Body Training techniques. From a distance, this might appear to be a trick. Maybe the boulder is specially designed for the purpose of the trick. But that is not the case. Shaolin Monks can break stone boulders with just a single blow of their hand. Moreover, it’s not just one boulder. They can break each and every boulder, in a stack of boulders, with just one intense blow. The video above shows a monk breaking his way through a stack of four huge stone boulders!
Michael Feld, a physicist at MIT, says that punching with the right force, momentum, and positioning is all that is required to perform this skill. “Amazingly, there are no tricks involved. What you have here is one of the most efficient human movements ever conceived,” says Feld. It’s easier said than done, right? (source)
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