Shaolin Kung Fu: A New Way to Cross-Train
If you’re training for a full or half-marathon, incorporating diversity in your training schedule can help you avoid injury and keep the routine interesting. Consider one unique — and commonly overlooked — form of cross-training: Shaolin Kung Fu. Shaolin Kung Fu is a vast Chinese martial art system that originated over 1500 years ago as a means to strengthen the Monks so as to improve the focus of their meditation. With this practice as the base, the training is designed to be all-encompassing, always evolving, and a never-ending journey towards achieving one’s personal best through movement, and in pushing one’s personal best to a level never anticipated.
Finish Line Physical Therapy is excited to partner with the Shaolin Kung Fu Training Center, located just around the corner from us at 109 West 27th Street between Sixth & Seventh Avenues. Classes are led by Shifu Hengxin, a 35th-generation Shaolin Disciple.
For the marathoner or triathlete, undertaking Shaolin Kung Fu training can help you substantially improve your strength and mental discipline to become the complete athlete. Think of the Shaolin workout as a form of intense interval training. Each class starts with a stretch warm-up followed by running and plyometrics during which students jog, sprint, hop, and jump. After more intensive stretching, patterns of movements — including kicks, blocks, and punches — are performed in high repetition with limited rest to help develop explosive power. As a student progresses from learning stances and postures within the basic sequences, these patterns become a part of a longer sequence of movements until an entire “form” is learned. After mastery through repetition, a student will learn other sequences to new forms. Workouts end as many runs should, but don’t: with more stretching.
The benefits an endurance athlete can get from cross-training at the Shaolin KFTC are specific and important to achieving the body balance we all need to be our best. Whether you need to stretch more, increase interval training, work on balance and strengthening smaller muscle groups more, or seek a deeper meaning by engaging in the study of this cultural artifact, please attend the school for a free evening class and decide for yourself whether Shaolin might be beneficial to your own life.
Physical Benefits of Cross-training in Shaolin:
- Increased flexibility
- Increased understanding of proper ways to stretch
- Better joint, tendon, and ligament health
- Fewer tears and pulls
- Extensive balance training exercises that strengthen smaller, collateral muscles
- Greater leg and abdominal core strength
- Increased leg strength reduces chances of joint damage or tears
- Increased core strength reduces abdominal cramping during endurance events
Mental Benefits of Cross-training in Shaolin:
- Heightened standards: Increased concept of “personal best”
- Greater mental strength: Increased ability to work harder, and higher pain tolerance
- Better focus: Increased attention to running stride, body mechanics, pacing, etc.
- Better discipline: Ability to implement training/racing plan and to stick with it