The History Of Shaolin

The Sholin Martial Arts Come From The Temple Of Sholin, it is said that the martial art comes from the book "yi jin jing". The book was left at the temple by a man called bodhidharma. The oldest copy of the book is dated 1827 altho the contents have been practiced for many more years. The composition of the text is said to be dated 1624

Records of the discovery of arms caches in the monasteries of Chang'an during government raids in 446 AD suggests that Chinese monks practiced martial arts prior to the establishment of the Shaolin Monastery in 497.[14] Monks came from the ranks of the population among whom the martial arts were widely practiced prior to the introduction of Buddhism. There are indications that Huiguang, Sengchou and even Huike, Bodhidarma's immediate successor as Patriarch of Chn Buddhism, may have been military men before retiring to the monastic life. Moreover, Chinese monasteries, not unlike those of Europe, in many ways were effectively large landed estates, that is, sources of considerable regular income which required protection

Tang Dynasty (618-907)
The oldest evidence of Shaolin participation in combat is a stele from 728 that attests to two occasions: a defense of the monastery from bandits around 610 and their role in the defeat of Wang Shichong at the Battle of Hulao in 621.

Like most dynastic changes, the end of the Sui Dynasty was a time of upheaval and contention for the throne. Wang Shichong declared himself Emperor. He controlled the territory of Zheng and the ancient capital of Luoyang.

Overlooking Luoyang on Mount Huanyuan was the Cypress Valley Estate, which had served as the site of a fort during the Jin and a commandery during the Southern Qi. Sui Emperor Wen had bestowed the estate on a nearby monastery called Shaolin for its monks to farm but Wang Shichong, realizing its strategic value, seized the estate and there placed troops and a signal tower, as well as establishing a prefecture called Yuanzhou. Furthermore, he had assembled an army at Luoyang to march on the Shaolin Temple itself.

The monks of Shaolin allied with Wang's enemy, Li Shimin, and took back the Cypress Valley Estate, defeating Wang's troops and capturing his nephew Renze.

Without the fort at Cypress Valley, there was nothing to keep Li Shimin from marching on Luoyang after his defeat of Wang's ally Dou Jiande at the Battle of Hulao, forcing Wang Shichong to surrender.

Li Shimin's father was the first Tang Emperor and Shimin himself became its second.

Thereafter Shaolin enjoyed the royal patronage of the Tang.

Though the Shaolin Monastery Stele of 728 attests to these incidents in 610 and 621 when the monks engaged in combat, note that it does not allude to martial training in the monastery, or to any fighting technique in which its monks specialized. Nor do any other sources from the Tang, Song and Yuan periods allude to military training at the temple.

According to Meir Shahar, this is explained by a confluence of the late Ming fashion for military encyclopedias and, more importantly, the conscription of civilian irregulars, including monks, as a result of Ming military decline in the 16th century.

Ming Dynasty (13681644)

From the 8th to the 15th centuries, no extant source documents Shaolin participation in combat; then the 16th and 17th centuries see at least forty extant sources attest that, not only did monks of Shaolin practice martial arts, but martial practice had become such an integral element of Shaolin monastic life that the monks felt the need to justify it by creating new Buddhist lore. References to Shaolin martial arts appear in various literary genres of the late Ming: the epitaphs of Shaolin warrior monks, martial-arts manuals, military encyclopedias, historical writings, travelogues, fiction, and even poetry. These sources, in contrast to those from the Tang Dynasty period, refer to Shaolin methods of combat unarmed, with the spear, and with the weapon that was the forte of the Shaolin monks and for which they had become famous, the staff. By the mid-16th century military experts from all over Ming China were travelling to Shaolin to study its fighting techniques.

Around 1560 Y Dyu travelled to Shaolin Monastery to see for himself its monks' fighting techniques, but found them disappointing. Y returned to the south with two monks, Zongqing and Pucong, whom he taught the use of the staff over the next three years, after which Zongqing and Pucong returned to Shaolin Monastery and taught their brother monks what they had learned. Martial arts historian Tang Hao traced the Shaolin staff style Five Tigers Interception to Y's teachings.

The earliest extant manual on Shaolin Kung Fu, the Exposition of the Original Shaolin Staff Method was written around 1610 and published in 1621 from what its author Chng Zongyu learned during a more than ten year stay at the monastery.

Conditions of lawlessness in Henanwhere the Shaolin Monastery is locatedand surrounding provinces during the late Ming Dynasty and all of the Qing Dynasty contributed to the development of martial arts. Meir Shahar lists the martial arts T'ai Chi Ch'an, Chang Family Boxing, Baguqun, Xngyqun and Bajqun as originating from this region and this time period

Influence outside of China

Some lineages of Karate have oral traditions that claim Shaolin origins. Martial arts traditions in Japan and Korea, and Southeast Asia cite Chinese influence as transmitted by Buddhist monks.

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 contributions to Song Shan Shaolin Temple in 2003 received China's recognition.

List of styles presently taught at the temple

  • Xiaohongquan - Small 'Hong' fist
  • Dahongquan - Big 'Hong' fist (after Hong Hei Kwang ???, a Shaolin boxer, not a monk)
  • Tongbeiquan - Through the back fist
  • Liuhebafa Chuan - Six harmonies fist
  • Taizu Changquan - Emperor Taizu's long fist( this refers particularly to the 1st Emperor of Sung dynasty who was a military commander)
  • Qixingquan - Seven star fist
  • Da paoquan - Big cannon fist
  • Xiao paoquan - Small cannon fist
  • Changhu xinyi men - The heart will protect the gate Meihuaquan - Plum flower fist
  • Luohan - Arhat (enlightened follower of Buddha) fist
  • Tongzigong - Shaolin child training
  • Dan Dao - Single sabre technique
  • Loong Dragon technique
  • Chi Lu Chuan - 8 Animal


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