Tree of Shaolin

Author: Wang Bo
Publisher: Black Belt Magazine/AIM Fitness Network
Subject: Martial arts/Shaolin/training

Synopsis

In the Shaolin Temple, monks studying kung fu are taught to think of the human body as a tree; the legs representing the roots, the torso embodying the truck, and the arms serving as the branches. With this holistic approach to training the mind and the body, monks are able to reach their fullest potential in kung fu as both a weapon of self-defense and a tool of meditation. Wang Bo, a genuine Shaolin disciple, knows this well and lays it all out for aspiring kung fu students in his excellent online video training series “Tree of Shaolin”!

Review

“Tree of Shaolin” is divided into a series of three “modules”, each devoted to a different part of the anatomy of the tree, along with a fourth module that takes viewers through self-defense applications and combinations of the various techniques laid out in the preceding three. Each of the first three modules also concludes with a form, executed by Wang Bo, that serves as a training tool for developing the strength of each section of your tree to its fullest potential.

Module one is devoted to the the roots and focuses on stance work and kicking techniques, concluding with the form “Tui Fa” that brings both together.

Module two is devoted to the trunk and features exercises designed to strengthen your core, along with the form “Shen Fa” that many viewers will likely find the most challenging.

Module three places its focus upon the branches and takes the viewer through a host of Shaolin hand techniques, from basic punching and palm strikes to the famed animals of kung fu, including the tiger, crane, leopard, snake, monkey, praying mantis and eagle. This module also introduces the viewer to various exercises to strengthen their arms and wrists, and unites all of the branch techniques together in the form “Shou Fa”.

In each module, Wang’s command of every technique of kung fu and branch of the Tree of Shaolin is simply outstanding, and he lays everything out for the viewer in exquisite detail.

By the end of the first module, you’ll feel as if you’ve taken a trip to the Shaolin Temple without leaving your living (or bed) room. By the program’s conclusion, you’re sure to have gained a deeper understanding of the kind of control of mind and body it takes to truly master the “Tree of Shaolin”.

Summary

Whether you’re a novice martial artist looking for a good starting point in kung fu, or a lifelong student looking to increase the depth of your knowledge, “Tree of Shaolin” is an excellent training series to partake in and experience.

Wang Bo is a true sage in both taking viewers through the various sections of the tree and the many techniques therein, as well as in the meditative side of kung fu. In fact, each of the forms he demonstrates at the conclusion of each module in particular bring together both sides of martial arts in a very tangible way, offering you a tool that, like “Tree of Shaolin” as a whole, will go a long way to helping you internalize and make permanent the knowledge Wang imparts.

Trivia

  • Wang Bo has been featured numerous times on the cover of Black Belt Magazine, and has been the subject of numerous articles for the long-running publication, including for “Tree of Shaolin”.
  • Wang Bo first began practicing kung fu at the age of three. He began training at the Shaolin Temple at the age of eight, before emigrating to California to open his own school in 2008.
  • At age eleven, Wang Bo began performing with the Shaolin Performing Arts Troupe, and can be seen in the live performance show “Shaolin: Wheel of Life”.
  • Wang is also the founder of his own discipline merging yoga and kung fu, which he calls “Hungrymonk Yoga”.

Program Rating: 8.5/10

Favourite Quotes

  • “I started kung fu when I was three years old with my father. In the village where I was born, everyone practices kung fu.”
  • “In my twenty-five years of fighting experience, I have found that the safest way to defend yourself in any situation is to use the method that is simple and direct. In order to be fast and direct, it comes from three areas of your body: the roots (your legs), the trunk (your body) and the branches (your arms.)”
  • “Just like a tree slowly develops the roots first, grows the trunk second, then expands the branches, traditional kung fu will help you build up power and speed in a natural way. That’s why there are masters who are eighty years-old who are still able to practice kung fu.”

The “Tree of Shaolin” can be found on Aim Fitness Network.com and you can also visit Wang Bo’s official website.

From the earliest days of childhood, Brad Curran was utterly fascinated by martial arts, his passion only growing stronger after spending time living in the melting pot of Asian cultures that is Hawaii. His early exposure developed into a lifelong passion and fascination with all forms of martial arts and tremendous passion for action and martial arts films. He would go on to take a number of different martial arts forms, including Shaolin Ch'uan fa, Taekwondo, Shotokan Karate and remains a devoted student, avid and eager to continue his martial arts studies. Brad is also an aspiring writer and deeply desires to share his love for martial arts and martial arts movies with the world!

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