Admit it. When you were little, you’ve probably devoted quite a bit of your spare time to watching wu xia TV serials and also probably devoted some of that time to wondering whether the kungfu moves are as dope in real life as they appear to be onscreen. Heck, you may even have “practised” it with your friends.

These days, we don’t get as many wu xia TV shows, but kungfu is still very much alive, as you can see from the success of the Kung Fu Panda franchise from DreamWorks. This year, protagonist Po finally meets his biological father in Kung Fu Panda 3. The reunited duo travel to a secret panda paradise where their brethren live and supposedly hold the key to mastering chi, which is presumably the only way to defeat supernatural villain Kai.

Ah, chi, the mysterious, magical chi, which is essentially the life force of every living thing. In wu xia films, you could transfer this from one person to another. Kung Fu Panda 3 is of course taking it a notch higher by proposing that you can transfer this from animal to animal, and even from animal to plant.

This brings me to the first kungfu move you probably wished existed in real life:

1. Transference of inner strength 

Transferring inner chi can induce lots of perspiration. Credit:

Transferring inner chi can induce lots of perspiration. Credit:

If you were born before the 1990s, you might remember seeing this in Louis Cha wu xia serials quite often. Someone would get “internally wounded”. To help the casualty regain his inner chi, some kungfu master would transfer some of his own chi by placing his palms on the back of the injured person, as if he were a powerbank and his arms were electrical cables. The two would sit cross-legged, the master behind the wounded, and steam would sometimes emerge from the healer’s palms due to the sheer intensity of the process. If it worked, the injured guy would feel better. If it didn’t, he, or the master, might vomit crimson blood.

Sometimes, the healer might even unintentionally upload some of his kungfu skills to the recipient.

Benefit of being able to transfer chi today: When you are tired, there’s no need for coffee or other stimulants – you just need a human powerbank who’s willing to give you some of his or her chi. Wilting herbs on windowsills would become a thing of the past as you can easily resurrect them by sharing your life force. Oh, by that logic, death will also be moot. Yeah!

2. Qing gong, or, simply flying on two legs

Chow Yun Fat and Zhang Ziyi in that famous sparring scene in the bamboo grove in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Credit:

Chow Yun Fat and Zhang Ziyi in that famous sparring scene in the bamboo grove in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Credit:

Qing gong is real. Shaolin monks practise it, but it is often exaggerated onscreen. The best example of this is a famous scene in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, where Zhang Ziyi and Chow Yun Fat sparred while leaping from treetop to treetop in a lush bamboo grove, as if they were dragonflies and the tall bamboo trees were nothing but lilies in a pond. In the wu xia universe this ability is attributed to the mastery of qing gong, which, when literally translated, means “light body skill”. It is achieved through a combination of breathing exercises and muscle exercises (and some movie magic involving the use of wires). The awesome part about this that you can run faster than the average person continuously, and “fly” without looking an an idiot flapping his arms as if they were wings. Yeah, as if that would work.

Benefit of qing gong (the movie/TV version) today: It’s not just parkour enthusiasts who would rejoice. Who doesn’t want to move at superhuman speed, scale high walls and skim across water?

3. Vajra Zen Lion Roar

“Get back here, you!” Credit:

A fictional Shaolin Sect martial skill, it is said to not only strike fear in the hearts of those who hear it, but will kill them dead without even giving them time to retaliate. It can rupture the liver and gall bladder of your opponent and tear apart his heart and lungs. The literally heart-rending sound is emitted from the diaphragm and can travel for kilometres.

Benefit of the Lion Roar today: Especially useful for teachers or principals. But obviously they don’t need to completely master the skill lest they end up slaughtering their charges.

4. Ru lai shen zhang, or the Buddha’s Palm move

A beggar named Hong Riqing holding up what appears to be the secret manual to Buddha's Palm in Gordon Chan's King Of Beggars (1992), starring Stephen Chow. Credit:

A beggar named Hong Riqing holding up what appears to be the secret manual to Buddha’s Palm in Gordon Chan’s King Of Beggars (1992), starring Stephen Chow. Credit:

There are a total of nine strokes in this particular technique, which has the reputation of being the apex kungfu move second to none. Having originated in Hong Kong wu xia films made in the 1960s, the Buddha’s Palm has enjoyed enduring onscreen presence, making its way to more contemporary Stephen Chow movies. Once deployed, the Buddha’s Palm can be as powerful as explosives. It can annihilate all living creatures on solid ground or in water. It can summon the wind, rain, hail and fire, then restore peace and calm. The first part sounds like what Storm of the X-Men can do, don’t you think?

Benefit of the Buddha’s Palm move today: So useful if we get attacked by zombies! Or in fending off opponents in a rugby game!

5. Paralysing people by tapping on their pressure points

“Don’t make me come over and tap you” Credit:

Remember this? The kungfu masters would do this (on TV) all the time – tap selected pressure points of someone in a certain sequence to stop them from moving for about two hours. To immediately undo the paralysing action, they need to tap another set of pressure points in another sequence. I remember my mind being blown when I first saw this. What if this skill were real? What if you accidentally tapped those points when rapping on a friend’s shoulder, and in doing so paralysed him or her? How to press “undo”? To my relief, there have been no live witness accounts of this ever happening.

Benefit of being able to temporarily paralyse people at will: Sometimes mummies just want their toddlers to stay still for just five minutes. Or sometimes you want a headstart running away from your teacher or parent, just before they are about to kill you for something you’ve done.

6. Wuxi Finger Hold

Master Shifu threatening Po with the Wuxi Finger Hold. Credit:

Master Shifu threatening Po with the Wuxi Finger Hold. Credit:

Master Shifu once threatened to use the Wuxi Finger Hold on Po in Kung Fu Panda, and not surprisingly, the Dragon Warrior later acquired this technique, and will use it to great effect, as you will see, in Kung Fu Panda 3. The technique involves the user holding an opponent’s finger between his or her own index finger and thumb, pinky held upright, and then flexing one’s pinky down. The target’s chi is then presumably affected so greatly that it causes a brilliant, rippling shockwave of energy that can even send him into the so-called Spirit Realm.

Benefit of the Wuxi Finger Hold today: Great for bringing down baddies who try to come within close range of you. You don’t want to use too much of your energy on jacka**es. Pinky flex will do.

How exactly did Po use the Wuxi Finger Hold in Kung Fu Panda 3? Catch the movie to find out!