Shaolin 18 Lohan Hands - Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

A kungfu classic showing two of the Shaolin Qi Gong 18 Lohan Hands patterns: “Presenting Claws” and “Three Levels to Ground”.

What are the Shaolin 18 Lohan Hands (Shaolin Qi Gong)?

Many readers have asked me about the famous Shaolin Qigong 18 Lohan Hands. They were taught by the great Bodhidharma in 527 CE to monks at the Shaolin Monastery in China when this First Patriarch of the Shaolin arts found the monks weak and often sleepy during meditation, which is the essential path towards enlightenment.

The Shaolin Qi Gong 18 Lohan Hands are fundamental Qi Gong (Chi Kung) exercises that can bring tremendous benefits if they are practised as chi kung (Qi Gong). Over the years, I have successfully used selections from the 18 Lohan Hands to help many people overcome illness, including so-called incurable diseases.

But if they are practised as physical exercise, which is often the case nowadays, naturally the practitioner will only get the benefits of physical exercise. The crucial difference between Qi Gong exercise and physical exercise lies not in the outward form (which can be the same for both types of exercise), but in the internal dimensions of energy and mind. If one does not know what these internal dimensions are, it is unlikely that he (or she) has practised Qi Gong (Chi Kung), although he may have performed the outward form for years.

At the Shaolin Monastery, these 18 Lohan Hands evolved into a kungfu set called “18 Lohan Fist”, which forms the prototype of Shaolin Kungfu today. Nevertheless, the 18 Lohan Hands continued to be practised as chi kung exercise (Qi Gong exercise).

Because of its long history, there are many versions of the 18 Lohan Hands being taught today. Shown below are the 18 Lohan Hands taught in my Shaolin Wahnam School. The illustrations are reproduced from a manual used more than 10 years ago (in 1980s) by my chi kung students.

Video with the Complete Qi Gong Set of 18 Lohan Hands

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Table of Contents

18 Lohan Hands Shaolin Qi Gong 1 Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit - Gran Maestro Wong Kiew Kit

1. Lifting the Sky

This pattern is also found in many other kinds of chi kung. This is not surprising because «Lifting the Sky» is one of the best of all chi kung exercises (qi gong exercises).

18 Lohan Hands Shaolin Qi Gong 2 - Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

2. Shooting Arrows

The holding of the hands is in the “One-Finger Zen” hand form, which is a typical Shaolin hand form. If you see someone holding the hand in the from of a fist with one finger sticking out, you can reasonably conclude that he has not learnt it in a proper way from a Shaolin master.


18 Lohan Hands Shaolin Qi Gong 3 - Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

3. Plucking Stars

These illustrations can only show the outward form of chi kung. Once again, I wish to stress that chi kung form alone is not chi kung. Chi kung is the art of energy management, and the form is just a tool or means to implement energy management. If you merely perform chi kung form, you are only doing physical exercise. If you wish to learn energy management, you have to learn from a master or at least a competent instructor, not just from webpages, videos or books.

18 Lohan Hands Shaolin Qi Gong 4 - Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

4. Turning Head

If you think that this exercise is just for loosening your neck muscles, you are thinking of it as a physical exercise. As a chi kung exercise, it is used literally to cleanse your head and nervous system. Of course you have to learn such advanced skills from a chi kung master, not from a physical education instructor.

18 Lohan Hands Shaolin Qi Gong 5 - Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

5. Thrust Punch

Besides developing powerful punches for martial art, this exercise massages and strengthens your heart. Correct breathing and making the appropriate sound are necessary for obtaining the desired effect.

18 Lohan Hands Shaolin Qi Gong 6 - Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

6. Merry-go-Round

If you wish to revitalize yourself without having to take pep pills, this chi kung exercise may help you. It stimulates your “water” energy at your ming-men, or “gate of life”.

18 Lohan Hands Shaolin Qi Gong 7 - Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

7. Carrying the Moon

Many of my students love this exercise the most. It makes you look and feel young, and enhances your nervous system. You can have these benefits only if you can generate a shower of chi or vital energy down your body with this exercise.

18 Lohan Hands Shaolin Qi Gong 8 - Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

8. Nourishing Kidneys

Ask a typical western doctor, and he will tell you that your kidneys have nothing to do with sex. Ask a Chinese physician, and he will tell you that your kidneys have everything to do with sex. In fact, the Chinese medical term generally used to describe sickness related to sex is “shen-kui” which means “kidney injury”. “Why were the Shaolin monks interested in sex?” you may ask. No, the Shaolin monks did this exercise not because of sex, but because “Nourishing Kidneys” also enhances their intellectual and general vitality.


18 Lohan Hands Shaolin Qi Gong 9 - Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

9. Three Levels to Ground

As a physical exercise, “Three Levels to Ground” can make your legs strong and flexible; as a chi kung exercise, it can strengthen your heart system, generate better energy flow, and increase your vitality.


18 Lohan Hands Shaolin Qi Gong 10 - Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

10. Dancing Crane

This exercise helps you to channel vital energy to your legs. But the benefits are not just for the legs. As the body is interconnected by countless meridians, inducing better energy flow at the legs is sometimes necessary to solve problems in other parts of the body. Someone with kidney stones or a dull intellect may overcome his problem more efficiently if he incorporates this “Dancing Crane” exercise.


18 Lohan Hands Shaolin Qi Gong 11 - Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

11. Carrying Mountains

If you wish to have powerful arms but do not want to undergo tough and rough conditioning, or if you wish to overcome some chronic pain at your back, “Carying Mountain” is a useful exercise.


18 Lohan Hands Shaolin Qi Gong 12 - Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

12. Drawing Knife

“Qi jing ba mai” or the “eight wondrous meridians” is often mentioned in chi kung texts but seldom understood. “Drawing Knife” is an effective exercise to generate energy flow to these eight wondrous meridians.


18 Lohan Hands Shaolin Qi Gong 13 - Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

13. Presenting Claws

If you suffered from diabetes, had trouble with your digestive system, or often felt worried and anxious, this exercise may overcome your problem.


18 Lohan Hands Shaolin Qi Gong 14 - Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

14. Pushing Mountains

I have never failed to be amazed by the profundity in simplity of this exercise. If you wish to overcome your rheumatism, or to enhance your sex life, or to have internal force for martial art, or to have mental freshness – just to mention a few of its benefits – practise this exercise.

18 Lohan Hands Shaolin Qi Gong 15 - Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

15. Separating Water

This is an excellent exercise for the heart and the lung systems. It will also give you powerful arms.

18 Lohan Hands Shaolin Qi Gong 16 - Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

16. Big Windmill

Many people will find it hard to believe, but if you perform this exercise correctly and sufficiently, you can develop enough internal force to break a brick without having to lift weights or strike sandbags. Those with diabetes or problems related to the liver and spleen systems, will also find this exercise very useful.


18 Lohan Hands Shaolin Qi Gong 17 - Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

17. Deep Knee Bending

Here is another excellent exercise for the lower body. It also opens up the meridians at the legs so that negative energy from other parts of the body can be efficiently drained out into the ground.


18 Lohan Hands Shaolin Qi Gong 18 - Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

18. Rotating Knees

You may be surprised, but “Rotating Knees” may help to overcome sex problems, or enhance sexual performance and enjoyment. Strong, healthy knees, obviously, ensures that you will still be agile at eighty and beyond.


Unless you are already well versed in chi kung, even if you can perform these eighteen sets of movements correctly but without effecting the internal dimensions of mind and energy, you will only get the benefits of physical exercise. The illustrations, therefore, are not meant for self practice, but for satisfying curiosity, and perhaps as a means for preserving for future generations what the Shaolin Qi Gong 18 Lohan Hands look like.

You will be mistaken if you think that the mind and energy dimensions are not explained here because I want to keep them as secrets. Even if I explain them here, many people may not believe the explanation. Even if they believe it and follow the instructions, they may not get the desired result. Worse still, and this is a main reason why many masters “keep the secrets”, practising advanced chi kung without a master’s supervision may bring serious adverse effects.

You will appreciate the warning better if you remember that what is involved is mind and energy, the two most powerful things in the world. As an analogy, learning how to swim or drive a car is safe with proper supervision. But one would not, and should not, go swimming or driving merely after reading some swimming or driving instructions.


Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit Books

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit is the founder and director of the Shaolin Wahnam Institute.  He is considered one of the best Qi Gong masters in the world today. If you would like to know more about Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit you can click the following link:

Who is Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

If you would like to know more about the books that Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit has written, you can click the following link:

Books written by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

If you would like to know more about what is genuine high-level Qi Gong (the Qi Gong with teach in our school) you can click the following link:

What is genuine high-level Qi Gong?

If you have any question please let us know:

This article has been adapted from the original written by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit. Original article can be accessed here

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