Shaolin Kung Fu


1. Presentation

Shaolin Kung Fu is one special internal martial arts versus Wudang Kung Fu form or internal arts in Chinese Kung Fu field.

Shaolin Kung Fu originated in the Shaolin Temple at the foot of mountain of Song in Dengfeng, Henan Province. It was named after the temple, one of China's most famous ancient temples, built in 495. It was the symbol of Buddhism power in China, and it also represented the ultimate domination of Buddhism over other religions in the next 1000 years in China.

In fact, martial arts was the manifestation of the wisdom of the monks of the temple, secular martial arts masters and army generals and soldiers. The temple once had many monks on its premises. Those monks of the lower level mostly came from the secular society and some of them knew some martial arts before entering the temple. Those who knew martial arts taught and helped each other to improve their skills. They also absorbed the experience of their predecessors and gradually developed their martial arts into the unique Shaolin-school.

2. History
During the Northern Wei Dynasty (368-534), Kung Fu was created at the temple and in the Northern Qi Dynasty (550-577), Shaolin monks could lift hundreds of kilograms in weight and were good at boxing and horse riding. Kung Fu became well known during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), when Shaolin monks rescued an emperor's life. The emperor awarded his followers according to their military merits and contributions. A Shaolin monk had the title of chief general conferred on him, while the temple was given large grants of land and money to expand the temple complex and was allowed to organize an army of monk soldiers, who acted as military people in warring times and as monks in peacetime.

The Shaolin monks in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) were all taught to practice martial arts. In the 1540s and 1550s, Japanese pirates known as wokou raided China's eastern and southeastern coasts on an unprecedented scale. In 1553, the Shaolin military monks took part in the battles against Japanese invaders in south China and accomplished many military exploits. It was in the latter half of the Ming Dynasty that Shaolin monks switched from cudgel fighting to fist fighting, so that fistfights could be promoted to match cudgel fights. In the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the people living around the temple were very active in practicing martial arts, boosting the development of Kung Fu. In the temple, the rear hall was used for Kung Fu exercises, where various kinds of weapons were displayed on the weapon stands ready for use at any time. Some monks practiced fistfights to safeguard the temple. After years of exercises and practicing, footprints were stamped on the brick floor of the rear hall and these prints can be seen clearly even today. On the north and south walls of the White-Clothes Hall, there are Qing Dynasty murals vividly depicting the exercises practiced by monks in the temple. In 1727, people were not allowed to practice martial arts. However, they could not be stopped either in the secular society or in the temple, where martial arts were practiced underground. Around the 1911 Revolution against the Qing Dynasty, Kung Fu underwent further developments. Martial arts clubs were established all over the country and most of them took Kung Fu. Lots of patriots organized saber and flying sword groups in order to overthrow the dynasty. They constantly practiced their skills and contributed greatly to the cause.
As one of the most influential schools of martial arts in China, Shaolin Kung Fu has derived into various schools. Apart from the temple at Songshan Mountain, the Shaolin Temple was said to have set up more than a dozen affiliates in other temples in the country. Throughout history, Shaolin masters have come from various religious backgrounds, including Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian, Christian and Muslim. There also have been masters who have claimed to profess no religion.

After the film entitled "Shaolin Temple" was released in the early 1980s, the temple and Shaolin Kung Fu have been well known all over the world. People practice it for self-defense, health, vitality, mind expansion and spiritual development.

Martial arts like Karate, Judo, and Tai Kwan Do are actually variants of the techniques that originated from Shaolin Kung Fu. Recent developments in the 20th century such as Shorinji Kempo practised in Japan's Sohonzan Shorinji still maintains close ties with China's Song Shan Shaolin Temple due to historic links. Japanese Shorinji Kempo Group financial contributions to the maintenance of the historic edifice of the Song Shan Shaolin Temple in 2003 received China's recognition.

3. Techniques and main styles currently taught at the temple
Shaolin Kung Fu inspire a lot of techniques from the animals. The style of Five Kinds Fist originate from the movement of animals. In the beginner, they are not limited to five kinds animals. With the development of theorization and theorization of Five Kinds Fist and the influence of traditional minds, they are limited to five kinds animals at last. The shaolin five animals consist of dragon, tiger, snake, crane and leopard. Each animal has characteristics that provide the practitioner with an array of offensive and defensive techniques. Only through a mastery of each of these animals can one hope to become a complete Kung Fu stylist.

The Dragon form, expressed above in the double dragon-claws, is instrumental for the training of shen, or mind.

The Snake form, expressed in the finger-thrust, is instrumental for the training of chi, or energy.

The Tiger form, expressed in the tiger-claws, is instrumental for the training of gu, or internal force.

The Crane form, expressed in the crane-beaks and kick, is instrumental for the training of jing, or essence and elegance.

The Leopard form, expressed in the leopard-punch, is instrumental for the training of li, or strength and speed.

In now days, main styles currently taught at the temple as below:
* Xiao Hong Quan - Little Red Fist
* Da Hong Quan - Big flood fist
* Tong Bei Quan - Through the back fist
* Liu He Quan - Six harmonies fist
* Taizu Chang Quan - Emperor Taizu's long fist( this refers particularly to the 1st Emperor of Sung dynasty who was a military commander)
* Qixing Quan - Seven star fist
* Da Pao Quan - Big cannon fist
* Xiao Pao Quan - Small cannon fist
* Chang Hu Xin Yi Men - Forever preserve the heart-mind link/door
* Meihuaquan - Plum flower fist
* Luohan Quan - Arhat fist
* Tongzigong - Shaolin child training
* Dan Dao - Single sabre technique
* Long � Dragon technique
* Qi Lu Quan - Seven animal fist

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