Wu - Chinese Martial Arts
Shaolin Kungfu Introduction | History | The Ten Shaolin Laws | Zen | Chi Kung | Application
Shaolin Kungfu has a history of about 1500 years. It is the style of Kungfu (a martial art) that originally developed in the Shaolin Monastery in China.
In about 525 A.D., a holy man named Bodhidharma left his monastery in Southern India to spread the Buddhist faith to China, later called Ch'an Buddhism. In China, Bodhidharma found the Shaolin Ssu (Young Forest Temple).and he became the first Tsu (patriarch, literally, ancestor) of the Ch'an sect. He saw that the monks were weak and could not perform his rigorous meditations, so he incorporated some calisthenics into the monks' training. These in-place exercises were transcribed by later monks as 1) "The Muscle Change Classic" or "The Change of the Sinews," 2) "The Marrow Washing" and 3) "The Eighteen Hand Movements of the Enlightened One" (The Eighteen Lo Han Shou) and marked the beginning of Shaolin Temple boxing. Bodhidharma later devised some self-defense movements based on his knowledge of Indian fighting systems. His emphasis on "Chi" (intrinsic energy which can be cultivated with breathing exercises and meditation) is an essential foundation of Shaolin Kung Fu. Later, because bandits frequently attacked the temple, the Shaolin further hired kungfu masters to teach the monks to defend themselves. Eventually, the Shaolin fought off the attacking bandits and became renowned for their martial arts prowess.
Shaolin Kungfu is non-religious. Throughout history, Shaolin masters have come from various religious backgrounds, including Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian, Christian and Muslim. There are also masters who claimed to profess no religion.
The benefits of practising Shaolin Kungfu can be divided into five categories: 1) self-defense, 2) health, 3) vitality, 4) mind expansion and 5) spiritual development. Irrespective of whatever style you practice, you must be able to defend yourself if you practise kungfu; otherwise your training becomes meaningless, because the term 'kungfu' means martial art However, kungfu, unlike many other martial arts, is generally non-aggressive and non-brutal although it is very effective for combat.
Apart from practising Shaolin Kungfu, there are Ten Shaolin Laws for the followers to follow (see below). The laws, in the Shaolin tradition, are not meant to be punitive or restrictive, but as practical means to help followers to achieve the set aims and objectives; in other words, to help them attain the best possible results in practicing Shaolin Kungfu for combat efficiency, joyful living, mind expansion, and spiritual fulfilment. The laws are not forced upon the follower; the follower accepts them because they choose to, because they believe that the laws are helpful to them in their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual cultivation. If a follower breaks the laws, after sufficient warnings, he may be asked to leave the Shaolin training, not as a punishment, but because the training is not suitable for him.