History of Shaolin Kungfu

Shaolin Kung fu history is a large part of the martial arts culture in China. It has influenced the country for centuries and is recognized as the oldest and most prolific school of Chinese martial arts. The Shaolin Kung fu style focuses on vigorous, swift and unpredictable moves. Developed and refined over the centuries, it is now considered one of the most famous martial arts in the world.

Establishing the Shaolin Temple 

Shaolin Kung Fu in China

The Shaolin Temple was built during the reign of Emperor Xiaowen (495) of the Northern Wei Dynasty. A pious learner of Buddhist philosophies, Xiaowen built the Shaolin Temple as a place for a monk known as Bodhidharma to preach. Buddhabhadra, known as “Batuo,” traveled throughout the western regions to spread (Zen) Buddhism. When he arrived in China, his Zen teachings were welcomed and encouraged by Emperor Xiaowen, and the Shaolin Temple was built. 

After years of teaching and training, 28 Indian patriarchs of Zen Buddhism came from southern India to learn from Batuo. His teachings during this time credited Batuo as the first patriarch of Chinese Zen and established the Shaolin Temple as the original location of Chinese Zen Buddhism. News spread of Batuos teachings, and he passed on his knowledge and lineage to worthy students. Huike, Sengcan, Daoxin, Hongren, and Huineng became the first six masters of Kung fu and are regarded as “the six Zen patriarchs of China.” 

When Batuo arrived on the scene, the practice of kung fu was used for combat. Under the teachings of Batuo and the influence of Zen Buddhism, kung fu was transformed. Zen Buddhism, combined with the movements of the kung fu fighting art and created a unique system known as Shaolin Kung Fu.

The Growth of Shaolin Kung Fu 

Shaolin Temple Growth

During the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907), 13 warrior monks from the Shaolin Kung fu temple helped the Tang emperor rescue his son, Li Shimin. When Li Shimin was eventually named emperor, he deemed the Shaolin Temple the “Supreme Temple” in China. This recognition began the exchange of martial arts education and military training between the imperial court, armies, and the Shaolin monks. 

With the approval of the emperor, monks began to invite martial artists from all over the country to learn at the temple. Soon, students began to arrive from far distances to learn and study at the temple. The Shaolin Temple became a location where martial artists exchanged the experience, skills, and views on the martial arts.

Shaolin Kungfu Today

Shaolin Kung fu today

Once it caught on, the art of Shaolin Kung Fu continued to grow and imbed itself within the Chinese culture. Over the centuries, these techniques continue to expand and grow with the input and experience of other martial artists. Different martial arts practitioners in various parts of the country – or even world – practice forms of this martial art which have been passed down through the generations. Today, despite how kung fu is currently defined, the term is still widely used to describe Chinese martial arts, where both forms and style can still be tied back to the original Shaolin monks and the Shaolin Temple.

There are many stories and histories about the about the Shaolin temple, Buddhism and Zen. More information can be found on here, or you can contact our school today to learn more about martial arts and the Maling Shaolin Kungfu Academy in China.

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