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Jet Li and Jackie Chan Workout – Get Kung-fu Fighting for Fitness!

Chinese kung-fu training is famous for the extreme measures students go to to develop and condition their bodies to help improve their art.

Kung-fu fighters perform relentless hardening and conditioning exercises to toughen bones and joints and to deaden nerve endings to allow them to take strikes without feeling pain. Many styles refer to this form of training simply as “conditioning”.


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Kung-fu performers, such as those that have made the Peking Opera House famous, spend hours every day performing exercises to make themselves incredibly strong and yet flexible. High kicks and acrobatic leaps and somersaults require a great deal of agility, power and suppleness which requires years of training. Please note that this is really quite different to the way Bruce Lee trained his martial arts. His emphasis was on more functional training for fighting and not acrobatic training for show.

The actors which have made kung-fu so famous today, namely Jackie Chan and Jet Li, came from these two different schools of training. Jet Li trained first as a Wushu fighter under the tutelage of Wu Bin while Jackie Chan was essentially adopted into the Peking Opera School to learn kung-fu in a punishing regime under the guidance of Master Yu Jim-yuen. If you wish to learn more about the Peking Opera school watch the 1988 film Qi xiao fu (Painted Faces).

Today Jackie Chan jokes a little about the style of teaching he endured, but what he does not say speaks volumes. The pain, agony and ruthlessness of some of the lessons leave only bad memories of an incredibly strict regime which would make a convent school look like day care.

The kung-fu Workout

The kung-fu workout shown in the video clip below is certainly not for the beginner. This form of training is still very popular in China, and is similar to the training which both Jackie Chan and Jet Li trained during their youth as Wushu and Peking Opera students. It involves a series or torturous bodyweight exercises, including

  • Finger tip and thumb press ups
  • Splits
  • Back bends
  • Deep knee squats
  • One legged squats
  • Stretching
  • Some Acrobatic Leaps

At the end, a man stands on his stomach while he performs a back-bend. Hardcore Kung-fu training, that would even make Jackie Chan’s eyes water!

Song info: It’s from the cd “Tai Chi Too” by Oliver Chanti And Friends and the track is “Sangha’s Lover For Amitabha”

Train like a Kung-fu Master


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If you really want to train like a Kung-fu master then the only safe and successful way to do it is by finding a good kung-fu school. When searching for a kung-fu school or club look for ones which focus on kung-fu alone, or at least have several classes each week dedicated to the art.

Other indicators of a good school are ones that describe themselves as “traditional” and also those that teach weapons as weapons training requires a higher level of skill from the teacher and this means that his (or her) teacher will be more experience.

If you wish to focus on the more acrobatic elements of kung-fu then find a style which is classed as a “Northern Style” as these are generally the “long” styles, meaning low and long stances and high kicks. Southern styles of kung-fu have a more upright posture and deal with a shorter fighting distance with more close in fighting techniques and grappling.

Kung-fu training is hard but also very enjoyable. To learn more about martial arts training see our Bruce Lee section.

 

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  9 comments for “Jet Li and Jackie Chan Workout – Get Kung-fu Fighting for Fitness!

  1. Lori Le Moss
    June 4, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    This is insane! Check it out!

  2. Kory
    August 13, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    Oh my lord. This is, as Lori said, insane. Shoot the most I can do are two finger push ups and hand stand push ups. I doubt my iron bridge is as good as his.

  3. lokesh
    June 20, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    this is wonderful exercise for karate masters

  4. Kungfu Fan
    August 23, 2010 at 6:34 am

    Insane? What’s wrong?

  5. MotleyHealth
    August 23, 2010 at 9:18 am

    I think that by insane he meant awesome, cool, wild, far out, wicked, bees knees etc. etc.

  6. Matt
    January 8, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    I can do almost all of them (only a few) except the last one, that back bend with the person standing on his belly…awesome! I think bodyweight exercises are the coolest!

  7. luinca
    June 25, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Hose

    oh! this is wonderful

    I saw that exercise without blinking my eyes really nice

    i want to try but my body is not have that much of flexible

    so i get jealous on you master

    hose

  8. taekwondo_joong
    April 4, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    nice flexibility. However, this isnt recommended for beginners.. So you better study martial arts. Safe. you’ll get injured. indeed, but that is part of martial art, but you will be used on it one day. Pain is weakness leaving the body.

  9. MotleyHealth
    April 4, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    “Pain is weakness leaving the body” – not heard that one before. Not sure I agree though. There is discomfort, and there is pain. From my martial arts training I learned to deal with discomfort, but pain still tells you to stop!

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