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There are apparently 72 arts you need to master as a Shaolin monk, and according to the accomplished masters in this video, being able to throw a needle hard enough to pierce a sheet of glass is among the hardest skills to conquer.
We’ll take their word on it. But to be truly impressed by this feat, you really need to watch the process when it’s slowed down to a few thousand frames per second.
The v2511 can record film at rates of more than 25,000 frames per second, which is plenty slow enough to see the needle hit home and the tiny splinters of glass fly.
Sure enough, the monks were not overselling their stunt.
The footage, captured from several angles, reveals the Shaolin master throwing a slither of metal hard enough to crack the glass and send shards flying into a balloon on the other side, causing it to pop.
If you ask the monks, it’s all down to a combination of focus and channelled ‘vital energy’ called chi.
If you ask us, we haven’t got a clue. But we’re pretty sure physics has something to say on the matter as well.
In 2009 a German television station did much the same thing, inviting a dart player, a javelin thrower, and a Shaolin monk to show their mettle.
According to Wired, they determined it required a speed of 150 kilometres (93 miles) per hour to get the needle to pierce the glass sheet.
Given the top speed for a baseball pitch is 169.14 kilometres (105.1 miles) per hour, our unofficial back-of-the-envelope calculations say it might not be unreasonable to think a person could project a tiny sharp object through glass, although it would take years of training to get it right.
Then there are the two other unknown factors here – the mass of the metal projectile and the integrity of the transparent material.
All said, even if there’s far more to it than pegging a sewing needle at your living-room window after a bit of deep breathing, it’s clearly an amazing display of skill to watch.
Check out the whole clip below. Oh, and somebody get that monk holding the glass panel a pair of safety glasses.