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Shaolin Training Master Steve DeMasco’s Self-Defense Moves and Street-Fighting Tips

Shaolin Training Master Steve DeMasco’s Self-Defense Moves and Street-Fighting Tips

When Western martial artists think of Shaolin Temple, the image they conjure up usually involves a bunch of bald Chinese monks bowing to a bronze statue of the Buddha and sweeping stone floors in the halls of their famous monastery. In their off hours, we imagine, they perform rigorous routines, play with exotic weapons and imitate animal movements as a way of practicing the ancient art of kung fu.

And that’s fine. There is, however, another side to Shaolin training, one that the public seldom sees. It’s been concealed for centuries — from tourists, from visiting Chinese martial artists and even from the run-of-the-mill monk. I came into contact with this other aspect of Shaolin training because of my connections with the abbot of the temple, who made me its cultural ambassador to America in 1999.

What is this other side to Shaolin training? It doesn’t have a proper name, but I refer to it as “lethal Shaolin.” It’s the subset of kung fu techniques that can be categorized as pure self-defense moves. It’s always been my contention that if more people had access to these self-defense moves, Shaolin training would be huge because it’s one of the most effective self-defense subsystems on the planet. Currently, this aspect of Shaolin training is taught in depth only to high-level monks — men who can be trusted not to misuse the knowledge.


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All Shaolin monks know of this subset of their style of kung fu, but few earn the right to learn this hidden aspect of Shaolin training. Most don’t even try to for one simple reason: Buddhists strive to be passive. They vow to live by 200-plus religious laws, an endeavor that requires extreme discipline and dedication. Not everyone who’s accepted into Shaolin takes a liking to monastic life. Many find the restrictions of Shaolin training and the routine too taxing and drop out. The techniques that make up lethal Shaolin are taught only to the monks who don’t quit. To reach that level of Shaolin training, a monk must convince his masters that he’s on the right path spiritually.

Steve DeMasco’s Shaolin Self-Defense Moves and Street-Fighting Tips
Ear Slap to Takedown

Steve DeMasco’s Shaolin Self-Defense Moves and Street-Fighting Tips
Full-Nelson Counterattack

During my annual trips to the Shaolin Temple, I’ve been privileged to take private Shaolin training lessons from some of the most senior monks in residence. In one of our recent closed-door sessions focusing on this ultra-effective form of fighting, my teacher began by showing me the old forms that few outsiders know. Then we worked on the applications of the movements in a variety of situations and environments — some of which influenced the street-fighting tips in this piece. While we were fine-tuning one of the techniques, my instructor informed me that the only outsiders who’d learned the moves were the Chinese equivalent of the U.S. Navy SEALs.

In the 35-plus years I’ve been involved in the martial arts, numerous students have asked me the same question: “What is the secret of the martial arts?” My answer has always been the same: discipline, hard work and an instructor who truly knows what he’s teaching. Since that trip to Shaolin Temple, however, I’ve had to alter my answer. I now confess that there is a secret. It takes no great skill to punch or kick someone, but it does take very precise skill to administer these lethal Shaolin self-defense techniques.

Steve DeMasco’s Shaolin Self-Defense Moves and Street-Fighting Tips
Neck Break


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Steve DeMasco’s Shaolin Self-Defense Moves and Street-Fighting Tips
Escaping a Mount

In the photo sequences that illustrate this article about self-defense moves and street-fighting itps, I demonstrate several of the more basic techniques in situations a person might encounter on the street. The reason I’m breaking with tradition and revealing these street-fighting tips based on Shaolin training to the martial arts world is twofold:

  • 1. It is the desire of the monks at the temple to remind the public that all the legends they’ve heard about Shaolin’s fighting prowess are true.
  • 2. Any martial artist will attest that knowing the movements is one thing, but mastering them to the point at which they can be used in a fight is quite another. In other words, it will take a lot of practice under a qualified instructor for these techniques to be effective.

About the Author:
Steve DeMasco is a Black Belt Hall of Fame member based in New Hampshire. For more than a decade, Steve DeMasco has traveled to Shaolin Temple for closed-door training to supplement the private lessons he’s taken in the United States. Steve DeMasco’s first book, An American’s Journey to the Shaolin Temple, was published by Black Belt Books in 2001. He has also published two DVD collections with Black Belt Magazine Video — the five-DVD collection Shaolin Temple Kung Fu and the three-DVD collection Shaolin Chuan Fa. For more information about Shaolin training expert Steve DeMasco and learn more of his street-fighting tips, visit Steve DeMasco’s Kung Fu website at sdsskungfu.com.

Permalink: http://www.blackbeltmag.com/daily/traditional-martial-arts-training/shaolin-kung-fu/shaolin-training-master-steve-demascos-self-defense-moves-and-street-fighting-tips/

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3 Responses

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  1. Raven says

    Man, I almost never post and I certainly don’t believe I know everything or that what I do is the best. I can’t let this one go however. Secret techniques? Come on what a pile of crap. Everything you showed here is common and used in many places I have been. They were not even particularly effective skills. There was NOT one special or secret technique, concept or principal demonstrated here. I thought we were beyond secret spy stuff. Black Belt I am disappointed to say the least that you thought this was worthy of publication.
    Raven

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  2. Michele says

    Raven…cute name. Always easier to be nasty with a cute, made up name. I found the subtleties of the techniques presented here very useful. Thank you Black Belt and Steve DeMasco.

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  3. joe says

    Disappointed huh. that’s interesting. my teacher always told me if you want to know how much someone knows about anything, you should let them talk or in this case type. Ravens above comment does exactly that.
    We can all say this or that about what we see martial arts educators teaching. The Shaolin techniques shown above Have many similarities found in many systems pretty much all systems. This is where the secret is. strike vitals, next close the distance between you and the attacker control or takedown, finish. Raven speaking poorly of these movements is a clear indication of his lack of knowledge and understanding regardless of what you have studied , you clearly don’t see the value in those teaching nor understand what you have learned. Your posting here shows your lack of dedication to martial arts in general first beacuse if you have spent the time you would have learned the most important rule of martial arts respect, Your limited knowledge is a clear indication that you have not grsasped any of your teachers teachings. Time will always tell the truth. Grandmaster Demasco has a very deep understand of the art he teaches as well as many others arts. These movements are excellent, the principles and concepts here are treasures to all. spend more time Raven. you must have a personal issue with this teacher and those things should be settled personally. Call Grandmaster he is a wonderful guy and excellent teacher. I am sure you would hit it off with him. Take a seminar with him if you really feel the way you feel. see what he does first hand then you will have a better idea of why the leading magazine in the country puts his understanding of martial arts in there magazine.
    The facts are simple Black Belt magazine has seen the best and Grandmaster Demasco is one of the best out there period!
    THANK YOU BLACK BELT MAGAZINE FOR GRANDMASTER DEMASCO’S INSIGHT. PLEASE KEEP THEM COMING.
    I have two schools and my student love his articles and have traveled to train with Grandmaster Demasco over seas and here in the states.
    respectfully
    Giuseppe Aliotta

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