offers his Vajra
In 1356 a mass of roving
bandits pillaging the countryside attacked the Shaolin
Temple. The residing monks were unable to protect their
temple or their lives and escaped to the forests. The
temple was stripped of gold and other valuables, Not
until the beginning of the Ming (1368-1644) was it
No doubt one of the important reasons martial arts
were practiced at temples was to protect the temple and
its inhabitants from outside forces. Wars, revolts and
famines could all give rise to hordes of peasants or
soldiers roaming the countryside of medieval China
giving temple life a very real if occasional danger and
a practical reason for warrior
monks to train martial techniques.
Besides the protection of warrior
monks, temples also have martial deities. One of the
most important is Weituo, one of the powerful guardians
of Buddhist law. He can often be seen holding his vajra
club across his arms with palms pressed together. Minus
the vajra club this is the posture for building inner
strength in both The Sinews Transformation Classic
(Yi Jin Jing) and Eighteen Luohan Gung. This
posture is called 'Weituo offers his vajra.'
New and old statues of Weituo holding his vajra
The Sinews Transformation Classic
of exercises for internal strength. Published in
the early 17th century it describes
how to build internal strength and gives details
on how to strike the body to make it strong.
Originally it didn't include the posture of
'Weituo offers the vajra.' A
later version that included
the posture 'Weituo
offers his Vajra' appeared sometime in
the mid 19th century.
The book incorrectly
labels the author as Damo,
Indian Missionary who
arrived in China in the early 6th century. It is
said that Damo faced a mountain wall in deep
meditation for 9 years.
is originally a Sanskrit word meaning
thunderbolt or diamond. In fact, the manuscripts
of The Sinews Transformation Classic
and Eighteen Luohan Gung
don’t call it Vajra but instead
call it a pestle, A tool we would use to
pound herbs in a bowl. A fitting name since in
India the Vajra is sometimes matched with a bell
as its female counterpart. The Chinese bowl for
pounding herbs looks just like a bell.
diamond the vajra represents a weapon of
unbreakable strength. As a thunderbolt it is
A Tiger Subduing Strength
'Weituo offers his vajra'
is described as an exercise
to build a tiger like strength. Eighteen Luohan Gung
More importantly it develops internal strength (nei
li) that is able to protect the body from strikes and
'When devoted to obtaining a tiger subduing strength, the diligent work of your four limbs must persevere in
defiance of hardship.'
“Why worry about staves and clubs striking all over
From these two descriptions alone it is obvious that
uncommonly serious work makes up this warrior training
Masters of old looked at the training of gung as a
vigorous and physically tiring activity. After the
completion of each training session we must relax the
body to calm the nerves and stabilize the breath. This
stabilizing of heart and respiration is done with the
‘finishing the gung (shou gung)’ exercise.
martial arts ‘gung’ means a type of work we do
to attain a skill or strength such as standing
in a horse stance for an hour, spearing fleas to
walls, lifting great weights with our
fingertips, developing the ability to smash
through rocks, to withstand tremendous blows and
other such difficult feats.
'Finishing the gung’ is the post workout exercise we
do to return the body to normalcy. It is essential for
keeping the yin and yang of the body in balance.
Throughout Luohan Gung are references and analogies to
the subtlety of breathing and the pulling of silk.
‘Respiration is stabilized with a qi like finely
‘The respiration stabilizes the breath and nourishes
the spirit and qi.’
‘The nostril fills the mouth with qi like pulling
The following quote describes our eyes when performing
the 'finishing gung.'
‘Close your eyes preserve your spirit and stabilize
‘Finishing the gung’ for balancing the body and
stabilizing respiration as taught by my shifu, Shi
Zhengzhong, uses the same postures as ‘Weituo Offers the
Vajra.’ The name comes from a common posture of
Weituo as seen in Buddhist temples where Weituo holds
his hands together, vajra club across his arms.
Our 1st movement of ‘finishing the gung’
begins with the hands above the head. All the following
postures require eyes closed and deep respiration
through the nose. It is important that all muscles are
relaxed. The breath is described as gently pulling silk.
Shifu calls this move, 'Both
hands support the sky regulate the triple warmer.'
The Sinews Transformation Classic
From Eight Section Brocade. 'Both hands support
the sky regulate the triple warmer.'
The 2nd posture lowers the hands to
shoulder level with the palms facing upwards.
Shifu calls this move, 'Great roc spreads its
wings gather in the qi.'
Roc is a great mythological bird.
From The Sinews
The 3rd posture is where the name ‘Weituo
offers his Vajra’ comes from. Hold the base of the
thumbs and the fingertips together while the palms are
apart. This posture should be held for eight breathes or
longer. Shifu calls this move, 'Weituo offers his
vajra and chases away demons of the heart.'
From The Sinews
||From Luohan Gung
Through the hard work of training and the proper
cultivation of your mind. body and spirit the end result of
exercises such as Luohan Gung promise,
'When your gung is finally successful you can prolong
you life and become an earthly immortal.'