Shaolin Kung Fu: "Bullet Fist!"


The Shaolin Temple’s 72 Consummate and Secret Arts fall into two categories: Yin/Rou Soft Internal Energy Training and Yang/Gang Hard External Power Training, respectively. Bullet Fist falls into the second (Hard) category and is a specific exercise of the fists.

Technical Analysis

Bullet Fist (Danzi Quan) aka ‘Pellet Fist’ or ‘Spring Fist Exercise’ has Training Methods that are very similar to those of Saddle Arts. However, whilst the latter emphasises fore-fist strength, Bullet Fist develops the force of the second or central finger joints (the Leopard Fist of 5 Animals Kung Fu).

To produce this hand-form the fist is half clenched, palm flat with the middle joints of the fingers exposed. These protruding finger joints (supported by the thumb covering the first joints of the first two fingers) are used for striking. Concentrating striking force Into the narrow area of the middle knuckles in this fashion considerably Increases the penetrating power of blows.


Stage 1

Embed a springy plank in the ground and strike this with the middle finger joints repeatedly. Strikes are generated from the elbow rather than the shoulder as these knuckles are only covered by a thin muscle sheath which is easily damaged. Learners should aim to avoid damage, particularly in early, Training Stages through excessive contact with the hard wooden board. Some authorities recommend treating the hands with Chinese Medicinal Wine (Dit Da Jeow) before and after practice.

Continued practice brings about gradual progress, the number of times the board is struck and the intensity of striking should be increased over a number of training sessions. When the knuckles produce a depression when striking the board the initial stage of training is complete.

Stage 2

A slab of crumbly Sandstone (or some friable equivalent) replaces the plank at the start of this stage. This has no ‘give’ and is struck until either a hole is made in it or the stone breaks. A sheet of Iron is then embedded in the ground similarly and this is beaten with the Bullet Fist as before.

When this can be accomplished readily the student perseveres until a concave indentation can be beaten into the iron plate. Once this is achieved the final Training Stage requirements of Danzi Quan have been satisfied and the ‘Kung’ has been mastered. Between four to five years are normally required for the completion of this process.


This is essentially a purely attacking technique and usually a fatal, lethal one. Consequently, Danzi Quan/Bullet Fist was not usually employed unless the intention was to kill. For this reason, Shaolin students of old, if right-handed trained their left-hands to become their Bullet Fist in order to avoid killing people accidentally (and their right hand if it were the other way around).