The 72 Shaolin Secret Arts are methods of preparing the body and the mind for action under extreme conditions (first of all, in conditions of real-life hand-to-hand combat). If you train only hand-to-hand techniques and do not pay attention tospecial training, you will never achieve the highest mastery and your movements will lack the real force. "The fists are like flowers, and the legs like embroidery needles", laugh the old masters at such "techniques". The 72 Arts of Shaolinare the foundation of the utmost mastery in all styles of Kung Fu.
"Seventy-two precious arts are kept in a brocade bag, they are kept like a great treasure. Eighteen of them are the essence of the famous treatises on pugilistic arts. Eighteen other arts describe in detail training methods with the use of special tools and training equipment. Wonderful methods of attaining the flexibility of the breath-chi, exercises in obtaining hardness and lightness, clenching methods are written with the blood of monks in books that are kept like a treasure in the brocade bag. One can seldom meet those who really want to do exercises with zeal: to become a real hero, one must often feel bitter taste of hard labour."
Seventy-two types of the Shaolin Arts represent an example of personal experience of monks from the Shaolin Monastery in the Songshan Mountains. This experience was obtained by hard exercises in combat arts during many epochs. The best samples of those seventy-two arts are such effective methods as qigong (chi kung), breathing exercises chi, exercises to obtain hardness yinggong and lightnessqinggong, acupoint massage dienxue, clenching arts qinna(chin na), the art of setting dislocations and bones and others.
In all practices of the Seventy-two Arts at first the basic theory is studied and only then exercises are done. At first those who practice the arts train the softness of their sinews and bones and try to make agile all their joints and articulations. Then they set into motion the main breathzongli, strengthen the internal organs fu, improve blood state, consolidate body strength, control the cinnabar field and concentrate energy in it, overcome their desires and requirements. The strength spreads on the four extremities and the hundred joints and articulations, now a fighter is in command of unlimited power and he can move off onethousand jins. Your arm weighing only ten jins can move a thing weighing ten thousand jins with a stroke. Your arms are a head, your legs are a tail. Everything is permeated with a single movement, the body moves like a dragon. Teachers said: "Shaolin exercises develop forces of the whole human organism, all joints and bones; you are capable of striking with all parts of your body." There is one more saying: "The fist is the source of all arts and the leg is the base, the root of the fist." Ordinary practice of pugilism consists of seventy percent of leg training and thirty percent of fist training. If you acquire pugilism, you can use eighteen types of weapon. If you resort to all ruses of pugilism, you can fight against ten thousand fighters.