Eighteen Hands of Lohan (Shi Ba Shou Lohan Quan)

Over 1500 years ago, a Buddhist monk, named Bodhidharma (Pu Ti Da Mo in Chinese, or most commonly Da Mo), travelled to China to spread Buddhist teachings. After an unsuccessful meeting with the local royalty Da Mo travelled to a newly established monastery on Song Mountain called Song Mountain Young Forest Monastery – Song Shan Shaolin Si (Shaolin Temple).

At Shaolin Da Mo also met with resistance to his methods and so he moved to out of the monastery proper and into a cave near Shaolin. Da Mo lived in this cave for nine years perfecting his message and deepening his understanding of his own practice and of the requirements of the monks of Shaolin.

Small Sleeping Lohan

Small Sleeping Lohan

Before he left Shaolin, Da Mo passed on to the monks the principles of Cha’n (Zen) Buddhism, Sinew/muscle changing exercises, marrow washing meditation, and self defence principles contained in the form Eighteen Hands of Lohan. Most importantly, through the use of the form and the concepts contained within, Da Mo had laid a foundation for combat training as a form of personal and spiritual development system instead of just for war. For this last reason most Asian martial arts systems honour Da Mo as the founder of martial arts.

Before becoming a monk Da Mo had been a member of the Indian warrior caste – Ksatreya. As Ksatreya, Da Mo would have been fully schooled in the skills and strategies of war and as a monk he was able to see his prior training as a means of developing spiritual clarity.

By combining the two principles into a routine Da Mo had a vehicle for his teachings that survive to this day.

In Shan Men Shaolin Quan the form of Eighteen Lohan Hands (Shi Ba Shou Lohan Quan) introduces a wide range of key principles to the practitioner. Each one of the Eighteen ‘hands’ can be applied as a simple self defence technique but each is also a concept that can be expanded out into a huge variety of techniques.

Eighteen Hands of Lohan contains efficient defences against punches, kicks, grabs and holds, as well as counters to weapon attacks. In its expanded form it contains complete formula for the dissolving of grips, reversing of locks and holds, construction of locks and the principles of throwing and takedowns. It also contains key concepts on evasive footwork, short range striking and the generation of wave power. Most importantly the 18 Hands of Lohan shows the very roots of Shaolin Gong Fu and gives us the ability to see the bigger picture of Shaolin Quan.

Lion Opens Mouth to Roar

Lion Opens Mouth to Roar

In Shan Men Shaolin Quan the Eighteen Hands of Lohan is taught at Level Four so that the practitioner already has a foundation in Shaolin Gong Fu. This form is also the prerequisite for the more mainstream Shaolin work such as Xiao Hong, Da Hong, Pao Quan, Wu Xing Ba Fa and so on.

Shi Ba Shou Lohan Quan (Shaolin Eighteen Hands of Lohan)

The Eighteen Hands of Lohan sets the conceptual foundation of Shaolin Boxing.

This form is small but contains layers upon layers of functionality. The Eighteen Hands of Lohan teaches direct and effective applications that can be used with even minimal training.

Shi Ba Shou Lohan Quan is a Tao Lu form.


Return to Thunderbolt Step, fists raised on the waist

1.       Cross palms, bind and present

2.       Plant onions in the mud, slap palms in Shrink Step

3.       Plant onions in the mud

4.       Double sweep hands and double push in right forward step

5.       Call earth to witness, cut hand over and plant onions in the mud

6.       About face, Dan Tien cannon

7.       Loin roars right and left

8.       Scissor fist Shrink Step

9.       Double elbow strikes

10.   Cloud hands and strike the seven stars

11.   Horse step and double claws

12.   Wind catcher palm to the left

13.    Supporting heaven palms

14.   Golden rooster on one leg

15.   Clear and punch three times

16.   Turning elbow

17.   Cross wrists, bind and repel

18.   Small sleeping Lohan

19.   Fang sung to finish

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