There have been books, articles, videos, and movies dedicated to Shaolin grip training to develop Shaolin grip strength. Not one of my friends who has seen the Shaw Brothers classic "The 36th Chamber of Shaolin" hasn't tried some makeshift training implement to develop power like Gordon Liu.
Let's face it: Shaolin monks are some of the most fit and fascinating people to grace the martial arts world, and their unique, unconventional training methods leave many in awe.
Of course, that's partly because of the results these training methods have for the monks. For instance, the One Finger Zen technique - a 13 year training that develops the skill to balance your entire bodyweight...on one finger.
Alas, most of us have no pressing desire to spend years dedicated to fingertip balancing. (For the rest of you...come talk to me.)
However, doing Shaolin grip training to develop the hand strength to lift yourself at need, carry heavier objects, punch harder, and open even the most elite of pickle jars is something that most people can support.
Well support this: Shifu Yan Ming is a 34th generation Shaolin monk who defected from the Shaolin monastery in 1992, and is the founder of USA Shaolin Temple in Manhattan.
He has a one-inch punch that produces the same amount of force as a car crash at 25mph, and that requires rather incredible grip strength.
Shifu Yan Ming appears in the video below performing some finger training for Shaolin grip strength...but before I show you these exercises, why don't you tell me your favorite Shaolin exercise or strength feat?
I know that there are some other martial arts enthusiasts out there who've seen movies, read books, or maybe even personally witnessed Shaolin monk training. Please, share one of the exercises or strength feats that stuck with you most here!
Share a picture if you have it! :D
What's most interesting about this video is this: everything Shifu Yan Ming does can be done in most any gym you enter. Check it out and see what I mean.
Thick ropes are great, underrated tools to train grip, so using a rope pulley and squeezing hard can develop solid grip strength.
Furthermore, fingertip pullup variations make a difference. In the video, Shifu Yan Ming performs his pullups without using his thumbs, but as you increase your grip strength, you can reduce the fingers to four, three, etc.
Plate gripping: not for the faint of heart, and certainly not as easy as one might imagine. Pinch grip is a underrated strength in the fitness industry today, and pinch gripping different sized weight plates can truly skyrocket your pinch grip strength.
Power move? Start slow. Don't jump to pinch gripping the 45lbs plates if you would get a more progressive and less dangerous workout with 25lbs plates.
The greatest skill of the Shaolin monks is patience. This is strength and skill that they spend years cultivating (Shifu Yan Ming himself began training at age 5). You won't get there tomorrow, or the day after. But progressively strengthen yourself over time, and you'll develop true quality grip strength.
Whatever tools we use to train, East or West, our bodies are all similar. There are unconventional ways you can develop strength in Henan Province, China, but there are conventional ways you can develop strength right in your own gym.
Reach beyond your comfort zone; your turn strength lies there.