The Benefits of Kung Fu

The benefits of training Shaolin Kung Fu are endless. The most obvious benefit you will gain is that your health will improve and you will become stronger and more flexible. But training in Shaolin Kung Fu will help you gain much more, as through the Shaolin philosophy of The Unity of Chan and Kung Fu, students' livelihood will be improved, their wisdom will expand, and their ethical standard will be elevated. As a result, students will feel more at peace and confident in themselves.

External training is the most popular aspect of Shaolin Kung Fu. We teach the external exercises of Shaolin through forms and drills. Each individual basic movement is essential for more advanced training. One's fundamentals need to be strong and sharp as it will lead to a higher understanding in the forms and more advanced movements. As a result, all students who wish to learn Shaolin Kung Fu must first start with the basics whether they have experience in other martial arts or not. We base our classes on the training of the Shaolin Temple in China. Internal training is equally as important as the external. The internal exercises help you achieve the fluidness, power, and spirit of the external. It is the essence of all movement in Shaolin Kung Fu. Since the beginning of Shaolin, students have learned what is called Qi Gong, which is the development of one's qi (pronounced "chee"). Every human being possesses qi, there is qi everywhere. It is the energy of all living things in the world. Shaolin monks have unlocked the secrets of qi through exercises and forms.

Shaolin Kung Fu History

At the end of the 5th century, a monk named Ba Tuo, arrived in China from India. Emperor Xiao Wen of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534), a devout Buddhist, had deep respect for Ba Tuo and ordered the construction of the Shaolin Temple at the foot of the Shaoshi Mountain. Here, Monk Ba Tuo would disseminate Buddhism in the peaceful surroundings of lush forests to Buddhists who came from all over the country. Ba Tuo not only on imparted and taught Buddhism, he also wanted his disciples to be intelligent, capable, and good at martial arts. His favorite disciples were Hui Guang and Seng Chou for their superior Kung-fu. Clearly, from its founding days, the monks at the Shaolin Temple practiced martial arts.

 

Later, Bodhidharma also a Buddhist monk, arrived at the Songshan Mountain and taught Zen at the Shaolin Temple. Facing the cliff on the peak behind the Temple, he sat in meditation for nine years. The monks grew weak from sitting in meditation for long periods so they created a series of martial arts to stimulate circulation and to limber up muscles and joints. Yi jin Jing (The Boxing of Limbering up Muscles and Joints), Arhat Boxing, Shiba Shou (18-Style Hand Exercises) were probably the earliest Shaolin Kung-fu.

Guolin Shifu with Abbot Yon Xin

Guolin Shifu at Shaolin Temple

By the end of the Sui Dynasty (581-618), the Imperial Court was tottering. In order to safe­guard the Shaolin Temple, a guard monk army was organized. The Shaolin guard monks headed by Zhi Cao, Hui Xi and Tan Zong rescued Li Shimin (598-649), the Qin Prince, captured Wang Renze, and forced Wang Shichong to surrender. After taking the throne of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Li Shimin offered official posts to the Shaolin monks, and issued an order that the Shaolin Temple would have guard monks. This is recorded in an inscription on a stone tablet at the Shaolin Temple. From the end of the Tang Dynasty through the Five Dynasties (618­-960), the Shaolin Temple had a weak existence, but revived in the Southern Song Dy­nasty (1127-1279). During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), all monks at the Shaolin Temple practiced martial arts, and Shaolin Kung Fu became well known nationwide. The Shaolin guard monks also took part in the fight against the Japanese invaders, and won several victories. According to the description of Songshan Travel Notes written by Wang Shining of the Ming Dynasty, "There are over 400 monks in the Shaolin Temple, and all of them are good at martial arts." During demonstration, "the wrestling with fists and cudgels are flying in clouds."

The martial arts training of villagers near the Shaolin Temple became very popular and promoted the development of Shaolin Kung-fu. Over the years, the essence of various schools of Chinese martial arts was integrated in the Shaolin Temple, making the temple a center of martial arts. The Shaolin School of martial arts came into being from years of development and became well known far and wide. Besides the 172 routines of Shaolin Boxing, there are 72 techniques including 36 external and 36 internal exercises. The original woodcut edition of Shaolin Boxing Manual was preserved at the Shaolin Temple. But in 1928, the Shaolin Temple was destroyed by a fire, and all of the ancient books and records burned into ash. However, Shaolin Martial Arts at that time had already formed into a system, so most of the skills of Shaolin Martial Arts have been passed down to the present today. The new generation of Shaolin guard monks are unearthing the lost martial arts as they continue to inherit and develop Shaolin Kung-fu.

by Shi Yongxin
Abbot of the Shaolin Temple
Songshan Mountain, Henan Province
P.R. China

Curriculum
Basics

This is where you will learn the fundamentals of Shaolin Kung Fu. The fundamentals are very important in that it is the key to learn and understand the more advanced movements.

The fundamentals are:

1. Stances, horse stance, bow stance and many more. 

2. Fundamental motions of the hands, feet and legs.

3. Combined motions of the feet and leg, which are used for balancing, jumping, falling flipping and rolling techniques.

4. Flexibility of the shoulders and arms, the waist and the legs.

5. Basic forms, the forms include tradition Shaolin forms that are specifically for beginners, 5 Stance form, Continuous Fist, Xiao Hong Fist and Lohan Fist forms. 

Intermediate

Once the student achieves proficiency in the Basics, he/she will move on to more advanced movements, forms and weapons.

1. Weapon forms include: staff, spear, broadsword, straight sword, and many others long, short, soft and hard weapon forms.

2. Sparring forms include: empty hand, weapons, and empty hand against weapons practicing methods.

3. Advanced movements include many jumping and tumbling techniques.

Advanced Training

The benefits derived from Shaolin Martial Arts teaching are based on individual student's talents, and the comprehension is based on their individual maturity. Those students who are specially talented in Shaolin Martial Arts will receive special training to fully realize their potential. 

Internal Energy

Study of Internal training is open to all students, basic, intermediate, or advance. Keep in mind that internal exercise is very important and is considered the essence of Shaolin Kung Fu by many practitioners and instructors alike.

1. Fundamental techniques include the circulation of qi, together with physical motions that facilitate the circulation of qi.

2. Internal energy forms include Yi Jin Jing, Eight-section exposition. I-Jin (Tendon Exchange) Procedure, the Twelve Great Energy Method, Jin Gang (Diamond) Fist, Soft Fist, Marrow-Cleansing Procedure and many other internal forms.

External Forms

Lian Huan Quan, Xiao Hong Quan, Xiao Luo Han (Small Lohan), Da Luo Han (Big Lohan), Chi Xing Quan (7 Star Fist), Chang Hu Xin Yi, Man (Heart & Mind), Pao Quan (Cannon Fist), Tong Bei Quan, Tai Zhu Chang Quan (Long Fist), Lohan Duan Da

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