The Skills of a Monk

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Krillin, visually at least, most resembles Shaolin monks, an order of monks from the Buddhist Shaolin Temple in China.  You’re probably familiar with these monks, and the various athletic and martial arts feats they perform.  The original Dragonball series, in fact, takes quite a few cues from the legends of these feats, and the cheesy kung fu action movies they spawned.  There is a very real root to these legends, however, and Shaolin monks can display incredible martial arts skill, focus, and physical fitness!  Let’s talk about how Krillin represents some of these attributes.

Monk Combat

The Shaolin temple is largely credited with being the birthplace of kung fu, also referred to in some texts as “Chinese boxing.”  Kung fu is one of the oldest Asian hand-to-hand combat arts, and has influenced many other styles (including Okinawan and Japanese karate!)  Though there are many different styles and variants of kung fu out there, the modern umbrella term for the Shaolin style of martial arts is Wushu.

Now, Wushu, while it is definitely a legitimate martial art, may be a bit different from what Shaolin monks were practicing hundreds of years ago, due to the careful eradication of many elements of buddhist and Shaolin culture by various governmental bodies over the years.  Wushu evolved almost as a dance to help preserve from of the traditional Shaolin kung fu forms, and as such, it does have some superfluous moves that are “just for show.”  It may also be missing some key combat techniques.

As such, in addition to learning Wushu, if you aim to be like Krillin I also advise you to take up some form of Okinawan karate, like Shorin-Ryu, Goju-Ryu, or even my own style, Isshinryu.  My reasoning is this:  Kung fu influenced Okinawan martial arts styles quite a bit over the years, going back before its practice was outlawed in its own home country of China.  Thus, many of the original fighting techniques of Shaolin kung fu still survive by influencing Okinawan te styles.

Now, this is all conjecture, but if you look at how Krillin fights in the shows, you can definitely see influence of both Chinese, and Okinawan/Japanese styles at work.  I’d definitely recommend kung fu or karate (or both) for building a combat base for Krillin.

Projectile Combat

Believe me, I wish I could tell you how to throw a destructo disk or launch a kamehameha wave.  Unfortunately, the world we live in and the laws of physics that govern it make it pretty damn impossible (but if you figure out the secret, please let me know!)  Luckily for us, there’s still plenty of other nifty ways to deal out damage from a distance!

Flying Locust Stones

This is great.  While doing research for this article, I was trying to find some interesting projectile weapons I hadn’t covered before, specifically those with martial arts applications.  I happened upon the rumored “Flying Locust Stones,” from Chinese martial arts systems (like Shaolin kung fu.)  I was having a hard time finding any tutorial videos or pictures until I did a bit more digging.  Apparently “Flying Locus Stones” was basically just a fancy name for “grab a rock and throw it at the bad guy.”  You gotta love the fascination with fancy names for everything…

Regardless, this is actually a pretty practical projectile weapon.  We’re going to move on to a few others in the next couple paragraphs, but basically all of them are either impractical or illegal to have on your person all the time.  Rocks?  Well you can find a rock just about anywhere, and I doubt anyone’s going to give you a hard time for having one in your pocket.  Like all things, your skill will only improve with practice, and that includes throwing rocks.  So, grab a couple and start practicing!  You never know when you might need to be able to accurately bean something from fifty feet away!

Shuriken

We’re going with the Japanese term here, but thrown blades/darts have their place in many, many martial arts.  Throwing stars fall under this header, as well.  To be honest, you’re probably not going to be walking around with these on your person on a regular basis (at least, I definitely wouldn’t advise it.)  Throwing sharp pointy things around can still be a lot of fun, though!  Here’s a few good tutorials:

“No Spin” Knife Throwing

How to Throw a Ninja Star

How to Throw a Throwing Dart (all of Xolette’s videos are awesome, check ’em out!)

Rope Dart/Meteor Hammer

Though attached to a string or rope, these weapons still behave a lot like projectiles.  Plus, unlike other projectiles, if you miss your opponent, you have a chance to recover your weapon!  We’ve talked about these before with Connor and Kratos, however I’ve got a new channel for you to check out for tutorials!

Studio 13

Check out the channel, there’s some great tutorial videos on there, lots of cool stuff to learn, starting from the very beginning!

The Focus of a Monk

Monks spend hours, or even days sitting in meditation.  Sometimes they adopt strange, strenuous positions, or meditate in bizarre and uncomfortable situations.  It’s said the founder of Shaolin kung fu came up with the art after staring at a wall for nine years.  I wouldn’t be able to tell you how that helped him develop a style of martial art, but there’s definitely something to be said for spending some time along with your thoughts!

Of course, for many, the key to focus is to eliminate your thoughts, or at the very least narrow them down to one single thought.  This, like any other skill, takes practice.  So, here’s some habits to develop in order to help work on your own focus.  Remember, in order for it to be a habit, you need to do it regularly, so the following suggestions are to be performed every day!

Meditate (Every Day)

Meditation can seem kind of intimidating at first, but it can be as simple as siting quietly for ten minutes every day.  Seriously, even that can make a marked difference in both your stress levels and your ability to focus!  For a more detailed instruction, check out my beginner’s meditation guide.

Eliminate Unnecessary Choices

So the thing with focus is that it requires willpower.  Willpower is, believe it or not, a finite resource in your body.  It’s replenished through food, or sleep, and is used up when you make (or resist) decisions.  Choice drains your willpower battery like nothing else, making it extremely difficult to focus.  As such, do whatever you can to eliminate unnecessary choices from your life.  Pick one mundane choice that you find yourself having to make every day, and figure out a way to get rid of it!

Practice a Skill (Every Day)

Building your focus muscles takes practice.  Developing a new skill (like playing an instrument, or working in some sort of art medium,) takes focus and practice.  Kill two birds with one stone by dedicating a block of time every day to learning a new skill, and then exercise your focus by sticking to that schedule, every single day.  Make it easy on yourself when starting out by making it a very small block of time (ten minutes is plenty,) and then build your mental muscles up by slowly increasing your practice time!

Remember, it’s not a habit if you don’t perform it regularly!  The above three ideas are just that: ideas.  However, if you use those ideas, you’re going to seriously develop your ability to focus!  You’ll be improving your life and strengthening your mind, one habit at a time!

That’s it for The Skills of a Monk!  I’ll see you again on Thursday with The Bravery of Krillin!  Until then, as always, remember to live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome!

Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace

 

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