You are currently viewing Run like a Shaolin Monk

Run like a Shaolin Monk

The Kung Fu Monk who happens to Run

Shi Yan Ming, often known as the Kung Fu Monk, was born Duan Gen Shan on February 13, 1964, in Zhumadian, Henan Province, China. Internationally revered for his superior Kung Fu skills and rich philosophical teachings, Yan Ming has also carved out a distinct reputation in the realm of running, marrying the physical discipline with spiritual enrichment in a unique way. Yan Ming shares a close connection with RZA, the founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan, a well-known American hip hop group. RZA is a dedicated student of Yan Ming and has openly credited Yan Ming and his teachings for influencing the Wu-Tang Clan’s music, which frequently features themes of Shaolin and martial arts.

Path to Shaolin and the Power of Discipline

Yan Ming’s journey towards becoming a Kung Fu Monk started when he was a mere five years old. He began training at the legendary Shaolin Temple, the heartland of Shaolin Kung Fu and Zen Buddhism for over a millennium. At the age of fifteen, Yan Ming embraced the disciplined lifestyle of a Shaolin Monk, practicing martial arts like Shaolin Kung Fu and Qigong while delving into Buddhist philosophy and traditional Chinese medicine. This formative experience instilled in him the belief in perseverance, mindfulness, and the interconnection between mind and body – principles that would later resonate in his approach to running.

Yan Ming’s Philosophy: Unifying Kung Fu and Running

Yan Ming’s running is not just about physical fitness; it is about harmonizing the body, mind, and spirit, a principle central to his martial arts training. The seemingly different disciplines of Kung Fu and running fuse seamlessly in his practice, creating an enriching exercise that surpasses mere physical exertion.

While running, Yan Ming emphasizes the importance of breathing, a lesson straight from his Kung Fu training. Controlled and rhythmic breathing can significantly improve running performance and make the exercise feel less strenuous. It is also a form of meditation, encouraging a state of mindfulness and mental clarity.

Yan Ming also practices and teaches the importance of maintaining proper form during running, a concept vital in Kung Fu. Proper form ensures efficiency, minimizes the risk of injury, and promotes better endurance, enabling runners to go further and faster.

Yan Ming’s Legacy: USA Shaolin Temple and Running Teachings

In 1994, Yan Ming established the USA Shaolin Temple in New York City, intending to spread Shaolin philosophy and martial arts to the West. The institution has flourished, inviting thousands of eager students, including celebrities and martial artists, to learn from Yan Ming’s wisdom.

In this temple, Yan Ming’s teachings transcend the practice of martial arts and venture into the realm of running. His running philosophy, deeply ingrained in Kung Fu principles, promotes the idea that running, like Kung Fu, is not just a physical task but a holistic journey of self-discovery, discipline, and endurance.

How can I run like a Shaolin Monk?

To run like Shi Yan Ming, the Kung Fu Monk, is to embrace a holistic approach to running, incorporating physical, mental, and spiritual elements.

Here are ten things you can do to integrate his teachings into your own running routine:

  1. Rhythmic Breathing: Practice deep, rhythmic breathing while running. This improves your oxygen intake, reduces fatigue, and helps maintain a calm mind.
  2. Proper Form: Much like in martial arts, maintaining proper running form is crucial. This includes keeping your back straight, elbows bent at a 90-degree angle, and landing midfoot under your body.
  3. Meditative Running: Incorporate mindfulness into your routine. Focus on your steps, breath, and the sensation of your body moving. Try to quiet the mind and be present in the moment.
  4. Discipline: Consistency is key in any practice. Make running a part of your daily routine, even if you start with just a few minutes each day.
  5. Warm-Up and Cool-Down: Respect your body’s need to prepare for and recover from exertion. Always include a warm-up and cool-down period in your running sessions.
  6. Strength Training: Integrate strength training into your routine to build muscle strength, enhance your running efficiency, and prevent injuries.
  7. Flexibility: Incorporate stretching or yoga into your regimen to enhance your flexibility, similar to how Yan Ming integrates Qigong into his routine.
  8. Mind-Body Connection: Pay attention to your body. Recognize the signals it sends during your run, whether it’s pain, fatigue, or exhilaration.
  9. Holistic Health: Beyond running, take care of your overall health. This includes a balanced diet, ample sleep, and mental wellness.
  10. Perseverance: Embrace challenges and discomfort. Growth occurs when you push your limits. Learn to persevere and find joy in the journey, not just the destination.

Remember, the goal is not merely to run faster or further, but to discover a deeper connection with your body and mind, as embodied by Shi Yan Ming’s teachings. for more about Shi Yan Ming, check out this article on


Foxhound Fuel is a new sponsor of the 2023 Osprey Trail Run


You might not be familiar with Foxhound. They are a relatively new company in the hydration space. Unlike some of the other hydration companies, Foxhound has a pre-workout, during workout and post workout formula. My personal favorite flavor is the coconut mango electrolyte formula.

Foxhound READY natural pre-workout gets you focused and hydrated before training. Whether you’re doing drills or sparring, Foxhound will help you stay sharp with no jitters or weird tingly feeling.

Foxhound HYDRATE Helps keep pace. You lose a lot more than water when you sweat! Replenish yourself to dig deep and sustain your energy during those later miles.

Foxhound RECOVER helps you bounce back ready for more the next day. It has a full stack of amino acids for muscles, turmeric for inflammation and electrolytes for hydration