Dynamic Martial Arts

Shaolin's Poetic Defense: Heaven & Earth - Wind & Cloud Palm

Chinese, Wu Shu with its long history has developed many styles and techniques of fighting. These techniques are entwined in poetic names to describe them and shield them in secrecy. Shaolin a popular system and part of the proud cultural heritage of the Chinese has a long and embellished history. At one time in the not to distant past Shaolin was shunned in China. Since the breakdown of China's "bamboo curtain", Shaolin has now been reborn and has become a big money maker for the Chinese government. Today we have jet-set monks flying across the globe to give performances of stellar proportions; with these touring Shaolin monk shows, and the constant re- release of movies from Hong Kong's golden age the popularity of Shaolin Wu Shu and interest in its fighting aspect has grown. The once secret skills of Shaolin are now coming to light.

One such skill with a poetic name is the "Heaven- Earth "Wind- Cloud" palm technique. This is a useful fighting technique from the Shaolin school. It has a universal application as so many other techniques of Shaolin. This technique involves- blocks, deflects, and strikes which can be open-handed or closed-handed. Developing these techniques will give one a base skill of offense and defense. Heaven Earth-Wind-Cloud does not require a lot of prerequisites. When developing this technique it will improve hand-eye coordination and the ability to react spontaneously. Other styles have similar techniques yet many styles find their origins in Shaolin. Including styles such as Crane, Wing Chun, forms of Karate, Tang Soo Do etc. Breaking down the name and technique- "Heaven- Earth" refer to High and low or up and down. To decipher this part of the poem it may mean to block up and/or down or strike high and/or low. This can be offensive or defensive in nature. Also this can be taken to mean block high and strike low or visa-versa. These blocks can include palms, arm, wrist or elbow blocks; though the Buddha's palm is a preferred technique. This division falls within the soft palm or soft styles of Shaolin techniques. In other styles, this pattern is commonly called a cross pattern motion, used for blocking and for teaching changes in direction of movement. Strikes include techniques such as palm, fist, fingers, hook hands, wrists, forearms and elbows.

Because it is a close range technique and the economy of motion involved, it is a hard technique to see and defend against once it has been initiated. It is devoid of any fancy swinging and over exaggerated movements. When using this technique it must be performed in a relaxed manner. The vision must be sharpened along with the hands. These techniques are straight line in execution but the torque added at the end of the technique gives a power through snapping. Just about anyone can learn this. Even if limited to a wheelchair one can develop good results.

"Wind and Cloud" refers to the left and right horizontal motion. This can be translated as being blocks or parries with the hands or arms or this can refer to strikes on a horizontal plane.

For all practical purposes this technique can be done with either hand and as in most Shaolin strategies the hands work in unison with the feet when attacking or defending. One point to remember is that this technique is meant to develop a one-handed strike and block sequence so all are done preferably with the lead hand. Fighting in this manner is usually performed by more advanced practitioners.

These techniques have developed over years of research and are effective and practical skills that can blend well into any arsenal no matter what style. One does not have to be a Shao Lin monk or a Chinese poet to benefit. Just look as far as the T.V. or the newspaper and see how this can help you learn something useful for today's fragile ever -changing world.

With each technique, coordination, crisp clear movement, balance, speed, power, transfer of power, fluidity and intensity should be stressed.