The one finger Vajra method (一指金刚法)

(NOTE: This post is about one of the 72 special skills of martial artists)

 

The one finger vajra method is a method for training any of your fingers to become stronger. This training usually focuses on the index finger, but can be applied to strengthen any finger. Strengthening the finger can have both offensive and defensive purposes.

finger attack

For (counter)offensive purposes, fingers are often aimed at soft vulnerable spots. Primary targets are (A) the eyes (eye gouging with the thumb), (B) the neck (either [1] behind the mandible as in TOP LEFT picture, or [2] on jugular veins and the carotid artery which you can locate in the RIGHT picture, or [3] in the suprasternal notch to strike the trachea), (C) downward in the clavicula (BOTTOM LEFT picture) affecting supraclavicular nerves and subclavicular artery and vein, or sometimes even (D) the solar plexus.

shifu_fingerlock

For defensive purposes, a stronger finger can withstand small joint manipulation long enough to get out of the finger lock, and renders any attempts at finger locks applied by smaller weaker opponents less effective.

On top of offensive and defensive purposes in physical conflict, of course a person with this skill can also use the finger when tools for mundane tasks are absent. For example, if you want to make a hole in a coconut to drink the juice, but you don’t have anything at hand to make a hole, with this skill that takes years of training you don’t have to spend five minutes asking around if you can borrow a knife or a screwdriver from anyone. Instead, you can be self reliant, as we can see in this video:

Moreover, apart from penetrating coconuts, strong fingers can have additional benefits which we will briefly mention in the last paragraph of this post…

 

 

But what is a Vajra?

The vajra is both a mythological and actual weapon which makes reference to the unovercomable force of a thunderbolt, as well as the indestructibility of a diamond. In real life, it is a weapon used to strike pressure points. In mythology, the vajra is a weapon that was able to defeat a magical creature that could not be harmed by metal or wooden weapons; it was a weapon used to slay demons, as well as to kill sinners and ignorant individuals. The mythological vajra was supposedly made of the bones and spine of the enlightened saint Dadhichi. Due to the link with the enlightened Dadhichi, the real life vajras have become symbols of enlightenment, which is why they are now often held in one hand by Buddhist monks. Moreover, as it is a weapon to strike pressure points and thus can be used to overcome adversaries in a nonlethal way if so desired, it is naturally the weapon of choice for monks.

Desktop

TOP LEFT: As an originally Hindu Indian weapon, we see that Indra used the vajra like a projectile with the power of a thunderbolt to defeat an enemy. BOTTOM LEFT: A Vajra as weapon for attacking pressure points, and often held in one hand by Buddhist monks for its symbolic meaning. RIGHT: Vajras spread all the way from India to Japan as can be seen in this depiction of Sojobo (僧正坊), mythical master of martial arts, master of the tengu spirits, and Japanese equivalent of Shaolin’s patron saint Vajrapani (金刚手菩萨).

 

 

Why is this skill named after the Vajra when it does not use a Vajra?

The one finger vajra method (一指金刚法) is a skill to strengthen the index fingers to have the power of the vajra. The skill can be used to attack pressure points (点穴) and is even believed to be able to allow the index finger to penetrate the chest and injure the underlying organs. It is one of the skills that can overcome even a well trained and otherwise difficult to harm adversary. This is also suggested indirectly, with the mythological vajra being the weapon used to defeat a magical being which was impervious to attacks by metal and wooden weapons.

The one finger vajra method strengthens the muscles and the bones of the fingers of the practitioner. As the vajra was a weapon made of Dadhichi’s holy bones, the name given to this particular skill suggests the skill is more easily attained when one practices Buddhist exercises for strengthening the bones and marrow, such as the exercises in Bodhidharma’s “bone marrow washing buddhist classic” (洗髓经).

Moreover, the name of this skill makes reference to a weapon that was used to kill evil spirits. Possibly, the one finger vajra method was named as such, not just because it could be used against those who were intending to harm the practitioner (so called “evil spirits”), but also because in most likelihood, overcoming ones own demons (i.e. evil spirits) is often very much necessary to master any qigong skill, including this one.

With the Vajra referring to diamonds, it is also an indirect reference to the Diamond Sutra (金剛經), a classic buddhist text emphasizing the practice of non-abiding and non-attachment, a practice which very well helps in overcoming one’s own demons. Alternatively, if one cannot overcome one’s demons prior to training, at least these demons can be very strong motivators for diligent training that would be too exhausting and at times too painful for people who lack any other intrinsic motivation.

shaolin jingang finger-001

The vajra finger skill allows the fingers to become so strong they can make indents in wood, such as the indents as seen on this tree inside the Shaolin monastery. The foreigner (老外) showcases that the indents on this tree truly have the size of a finger.

 

As a test as well as demonstration of finger strength, the rare individuals who have trained their fingers to the highest level can do a handstand or even a front flip on their index finger(s) as in the video below. Needless to say, this would tax the fingers of a normal or even trained individual so much the finger would either give in and or break. To be able to stand on one or two index fingers, it helps to be light of weight* and to have fingers which aren’t too elegantly long and thin**, but rather short and stump.

(*Even if you are not overweight, being tall and muscular will make this particular feat of standing on the fingers hard to do. This is why the few individuals that are able to perform this skill are all lean men of short stature.)

(** As women often have fingers which are proportionally thinner and longer, this is probably the only reason we haven’t seen any video of a woman performing this skill.)

 

Did you know…?

This skill is commonly known as yi zhi jingang fa (一指金刚法; “one finger jingang method“), and is also known as Jingang zhi (金刚指; “Jingang finger“), jin zhi (金指; “metal finger“), and tie zhi (铁指; “iron finger“). While the translations between brackets are the most literal and correct translation, other translations also circulate.

Jingang (金刚)is translated in various ways, as the Chinese word has various meanings. However, in the context of this skill, it has only one meaning: that of the Vajra.

Jingang sometimes is also used to refer to King Kong. However, as the skill described in this post predates the 1933 movie about the fictional giant ape, it obviously follows that translations such as “King Kong finger”, and “”One finger King Kong method” are misplaced in this context, even if jingang in some cases correctly can be translated as King Kong.

Likewise, it is true that jingang can mean diamond. It is not entirely misplaced to refer to this skill as “Diamond finger” or a variation thereof, as the finger is indeed hardened. Yet, in the context of Chinese martial arts practices, especially those associated with Shaolin, a buddhist interpretation is more appropriate and correct. The vajra is a distinctly buddhist symbol, which refers to hardness as well as other aspects specific to this skill. However, as very few Westerners know what a Vajra is, the translation of diamond rather than Vajra has often been chosen for convenience rather than accuracy. In a similar vein, the famous Diamond Sutra is probably also better translated as Vajra sutra!

As to the translation of zhi (指), any skill that employs a single finger or multiple fingers has the Chinese word zhi (指). The Chinese language leaves open to interpretation whether this is a single finger, or multiple fingers, as the language does not make a distinction between singular and plural nouns. Of course in the case of yi zhi jingang fa 一指金刚法 it is explicitly mentioned the method concerns the use of ONE finger (一指). However, the alternative name jingang zhi (金刚指) leaves open the possibility that more than one finger on each hand has been trained and should preferably used in cases where not only the index finger is hardened, but also other fingers.

Finally, I have noted that finger(s) is sometimes translated as fingering. While it does follow that stronger fingers developed by using this training method allow for longer endurance when using the fingers for providing women pleasure, I do believe these martial qigong skills are not directly intended for any traditional ‘dual cultivation’ sexual qigong practices for health. But who knows?

 

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Main references:

  • Shaolin Kung-fu” (2007) written by 冯永臣 and 王跃进

published by China Travel & Tourism Press, ISBN: 7-5032-2966-7

  • Authentic Shaolin Heritage: Training methods of 72 arts of Shaolin (2007) written by Jin Jing Zhong

published by Lulu, ISBN: ???

  • Kung Fu – History, Philosophy and Technique, Chapter 6: The Dynamics of Kung (1980) written by David Chow & Richard Spangler

published by Unique Publications, ISBN: 0865680116

  • 少林精功七十二艺 (2010) written by 乔蓓艺

published by ???, ISBN: 978-7-5337-4657-5

  • Chinese-English and English-Chinese Wushu Dictionary (2007) written by 段平 and 郑守志

published by China People’s Sports Publishing House, ISBN: 978-7-5009-3001-3

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Links:

http://www.baike.com/wiki/一指金刚法

http://www.twwiki.com/wiki/一指金剛法

http://news3.xinhuanet.com/photo/2007-04/18/content_5994254.htm

http://www.qqgfw.com/KungfuArticleList2.aspx?KungfuArticleID=2472

 

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One thought on “The one finger Vajra method (一指金刚法)

  1. Pingback: 72 mysterious chi kung skills of the martial arts masters | braineggs

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