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Class 1: Kung Fu Hand Shapes

Why Are There So Many Hand Shapes in Kung Fu?

In addition to the standard fist shape, traditional Kung Fu styles utilise a wide range of different hand shapes in their forms. But what is the purpose of having so many different hand positions?

Simply put, having a range of hand shapes allows for a greater degree of flexibility and versatility in application of the forms. The hand shapes in styles like Shaolin provide a vast library of techniques for striking, including with the knuckles, palm, fingers, back of the hand, side of the hand and more, but also include options for grappling, grabbing, locking and throwing. By training these hand shapes as part of our basic combinations and forms training, we are able to practice a wide range of application scenarios as solo drills, whilst practicing the different hand shapes also develops dexterity, strength and flexibility in the hands, wrist and forearms as well as helping to improve circulation.

Today’s Class

In this class, we’re covering nine basic hand shapes, divided into three fist shapes, three palm shapes and three animal shapes. Although many other Kung Fu hand shapes exist, understanding these nine hand positions will provide you with a solid foundation to begin your Kung Fu training. Practicing and familiarising yourself with these nine hand shapes contextualises some of the most common categories of hand shapes you will encounter in your training, including ways to strike with different parts of the hand as well as other concepts such as seizing, locking and tearing.

Try following along with the video and replicating these nine hand shapes, paying careful attention to the details to help prepare you for the basic combinations and forms you’ll be learning in future classes.


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Xing Long Kung Fu School

Traditional Shaolin & Tai Chi Martial Arts Academy

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