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Encyclopedia > Shaolin kung fu
Shaolin kung fu
Chinese: 少林功夫
Hanyu Pinyin: Shàolín gōngfu
Wade-Giles: Shao-lin Kung-fu
Jyutping: siu3 lam4 gong1 fu1
This article contains Chinese text.
Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Chinese characters.

Ever since 1669, when Huang Zongxi first described Chinese martial arts in terms of a Shaolin or "external" school versus a Wudang or "internal" school,[1] "Shaolin" has been used as a synonym for "external" Chinese martial arts regardless of whether or not the particular style in question has any connection to the Shaolin Monastery. In 1784 the Boxing Classic: Essential Boxing Methods[2] made the earliest extant reference to the Shaolin Monastery as Chinese boxing's place of origin.[3] Standard Mandarin is the official Chinese spoken language used by the Peoples Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Singapore. ... Hanyu Pinyin (Simplified Chinese: ; Traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: ), commonly called Pinyin, is the most common variant of Standard Mandarin romanization system in use. ... Wade-Giles, sometimes abbreviated Wade, is a Romanization (phonetic notation and transliteration) system for the Chinese language based on Mandarin. ... Standard Cantonese is a variant, and is generally considered the prestige dialect of Cantonese Chinese. ... Jyutping (sometimes spelled Jyutpin) is a romanization system for Standard Cantonese developed by the Linguistic Society of Hong Kong (LSHK) in 1993. ... Image File history File links Zhongwen. ... 漢字 / 汉字 Chinese character in Hanzi, Kanji, Hanja, Hán Tự. Red in Simplified Chinese. ... Huang Zongxi (黃宗羲, 1610-1695) was the name of a Chinese political theorist, philosopher, and soldier during the latter part of the Ming dynasty into the early part the Qing. ... “Kung fu” redirects here. ... Wǔdāngquán, is a family of Chinese martial arts known more generally as nèijiā. The name refers to the Wudang Mountains of Hubei Province, which are known for their many Taoist temples. ... The term Nèijiā (Chinese: ; pinyin: nèi jīa; Wade-Giles: nei4 chia1; literally internal/inside sect claimed by some schools as soft style) denotes the styles of Chinese martial arts, which Sun Lutang identified in the 1920s as Tai Chi Chuan, Xíngyìquán and... Main gate of the Shaolin Monastery in Henan, China. ...

Since the beginning of the 17th century, the Shaolin Monastery garnered such fame that many martial artists have capitalized on its name by claiming possession of the original, authentic Shaolin teachings.[4]



Main article: Bodhidharma
Further information: Bodhidharma, the martial arts, and the disputed India connection
Further information: Foreign influence on Chinese martial arts

Image File history File links Unbalanced_scales. ... Bodhidharma was the Buddhist monk (usually Indian by most accounts) is credited as the founder of Chan/Zen Buddhism in 6th century China. ... Bodhidharma, woodblock print by Yoshitoshi, 1887. ... Foreign influence on Chinese martial arts, or more specifically, Shaolin Kung Fu, is endorsed by the traditional Shaolin temple claims and the claims of a majority of martial arts historians. ...

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. Ancient Egyptian funerary stele Suenos Stone in Forres Scotland A stele (or stela) is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected for funerary or commemorative purposes, most usually decorated with the names and titles of the deceased or living—inscribed, carved in relief (bas... Wang Shichong (AD??? - 621) was a Sui general who declared himself emperor in Luoyang following the demise of the Sui dynasty. ... The Battle of Hulao (May 28, 621), located just east of Luoyang, was a decisive victory for Li Shimin, through which he was able to subdue two warlords, Dou Jiande and Wang Shichong. ...

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. The Sui Dynasty (Chinese: ; pinyin: ; 581-619[1]) followed the Southern and Northern Dynasties and preceded the Tang Dynasty in China. ... Zheng (鄭) was a Zhou city-state in the middle of ancient China, modern Henan Province. ... Luoyang (Simplified Chinese: , Traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Luòyáng) is a prefecture-level city in western Henan province, Peoples Republic of China. ...

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.[5] 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.[5] Furthermore, he had assembled an army at Luoyang to march on the Shaolin Temple itself. The Jin Dynasty (晉 pinyin: jìn, 265-420), one of the Six Dynasties, followed the Three Kingdoms and preceded the Southern and Northern Dynasties in China. ... The Southern Qi Dynasty 齊朝 (479-502) was the second of the Southern dynasties in China, followed by the Liang Dynasty. ... The Sui Dynasty (Chinese: ; pinyin: ; 581-619[1]) followed the Southern and Northern Dynasties and preceded the Tang Dynasty in China. ... Emperor Wen of Sui China (541-604), also Yang Jian, Yang Chien, and Sui Wen-ti (posthumous name), was the founder and first emperor of Chinas Sui Dynasty. ...

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. The Battle of Hulao (May 28, 621), located just east of Luoyang, was a decisive victory for Li Shimin, through which he was able to subdue two warlords, Dou Jiande and Wang Shichong. ...

Li Shimin's father was the first Tang Emperor and Shimin himself became its second. Emperor Gaozu of Tang China (566 - June 25, 635), born Lee Yuan, was the founder of the Tang Dynasty of China, and the first emperor of this dynasty from 618 to 626. ... Emperor Taizong of Tang China (January 23, 599–July 10, 649), born Li Shimin (李世民 Lĭ ShìMín), was the second emperor of the Tang Dynasty of China from 626 to 649. ...

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, so even if it is possible or even likely that the Shaolin monastic regimen included martial arts, there is no documentation of it. 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.[4]

Ming Dynasty (1368–1644)

From the 8th to the 15th centuries, no extant source documents Shaolin participation in combat; then suddenly, 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.[4]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.[4]

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.[4][3] By the mid-16th century military experts from all over Ming China were travelling to Shaolin to study its fighting techniques. For the band, see Tang Dynasty (band). ... 10th All China Games 10th All China Games Qiang (qÄ«ang,槍) is the Chinese term for spear. ... Gun event at the 10th All China Games The Chinese word Gun (Chinese: ; pinyin: gùn) refers to a long Chinese staff weapon used in Chinese martial arts. ... The Ming Dynasty (Chinese: 明朝; Pinyin: míng cháo) was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, though claims to the Ming throne (now collectively called the Southern Ming) survived until 1662. ...

Around 1560 Yú Dàyóu travelled to Shaolin Monastery to see for himself its monks' fighting techniques, but found them disappointing. Yú 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 Yú's teachings. Yú Dàyóu (俞大猷) (1503–1579) was a general who, like his comrade Qi Jiguang, is best known for the suppression of Wokou piracy along the southeastern coast of China. ...

The earliest extant manual on Shaolin Kung Fu, the Exposition of the Original Shaolin Staff Method[6] was written around 1610 and published in 1621 from what its author Chéng Zōngyóu learned during a more than ten year stay at the monastery.

Conditions of lawlessness in Henan—where the Shaolin Monastery is located—and 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'üan, Chang Family Boxing, Bāguàquán, Xíngyìquán and Bājíquán as originating from this region and this time period.[4] Henan (Chinese: 河南; Hanyu Pinyin: ; Wade-Giles: Ho-nan), is a province of the Peoples Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. ... For other uses, see Ming. ... The Qing Dynasty (Chinese: ; pinyin: ; Wade-Giles: Ching chao; Manchu: daicing gurun; Mongolian: Манж Чин), occasionally known as the Manchu Dynasty, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1644 to 1912. ... Tai Chi Chüan or Taijiquan (Traditional Chinese: 太極拳; Simplified Chinese: 太极拳; pinyin: Tàijíquán; literally supreme ultimate fist), commonly known as Tai Chi, Tai Chi, or Taiji, is an internal Chinese martial art. ... Along with Tai Chi Chüan and Xíngyìquán, BāguàzhÇŽng is one of the three major internal Chinese martial arts. ... Xingyiquan is one of the three major internal Chinese martial arts—the other two being Taijiquan and Baguazhang—and is characterised by aggressive, linear movements and explosive power. ... Bājíquán (Traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: ; literally eight extremes fist; Japanese: , Hakkyokuken) is a Chinese martial art that features explosive, short range power and is famous for its elbow strikes. ...


In the 1540s and 1550s, Japanese pirates known as wokou raided China's eastern and southeastern coasts on an unprecedented scale. Pirates may refer to: A group of people committing any of these activities: Piracy at sea or on a river/lake. ... 16th century Japanese pirate raids. ...

The geographer Zheng Ruoceng provides the most detailed of the 16th century sources which confirm that, in 1553, Wan Biao, Vice Commissioner in Chief of the Nanjing Chief Military Commission, initiated the conscription of monks—including some from Shaolin—against the pirates.[4] Warrior monks participated in at least four battles: at the Gulf of Hangzhou in spring of 1553 and in the Huangpu River delta at Wengjiagang in July 1553, Majiabang in spring of 1554, and Taozhai in autumn of 1555.[4] The Hangzhou Bay is an inlet of the East China Sea, bordered by the province of Zhejiang and the municipality of Shanghai. ... Huangpu river (黃浦江) is a 97km long river in China flowing through Shanghai. ...

The monks suffered their greatest defeat at Taozhai, where four of them fell in battle; their remains were buried under the Stūpa of the Four Heroic Monks (Si yi seng ta) at Mount She near Shanghai.[4] This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...

The monks won their greatest victory at Wengjiagang.[4] On 21 July 1553, 120 warrior monks led by the Shaolin monk Tianyuan defeated a group of pirates and chased the survivors over ten days and twenty miles.[4] The pirates suffered over one hundred casualties and the monks, only four.[4]

Not all of the monks who fought at Wengjiagang were from Shaolin, and rivalries developed among them. Zheng chronicles Tianyuan’s defeat of eight rival monks from Hangzhou who challenged his command. Zheng ranked Shaolin first of the top three Buddhist centers of martial arts.[4] Zheng ranked Mount Funiu in Henan second and Mount Wutai in Shanxi third. The Funiu monks practiced staff techniques which they had learned at the Shaolin Monastery. The Wutai monks practiced Yang Family Spear (楊家槍; pinyin: Yángjiā qīang). Henan (Chinese: 河南; Hanyu Pinyin: ; Wade-Giles: Ho-nan), is a province of the Peoples Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. ... Wutai Shan (Mount Wuitai), which means Five Terrace Mountain, is one of the four sacred mountains in Chinese Buddhism. ... Shanxi (Chinese: 山西; Hanyu Pinyin: ; Wade-Giles: Shan-hsi; Postal System Pinyin: Shansi) is a province in the northern part of the Peoples Republic of China. ... Hanyu Pinyin (Simplified Chinese: ; Traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: ), commonly called Pinyin, is the most common variant of Standard Mandarin romanization system in use. ...

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. Karate ) ( ) or karate-dō ) is a martial art that developed from a synthesis of indigenous Ryukyuan fighting methods and chinese kempo [1] . Karate originally meant Tang hand, i. ... The Hwarang were an elite group of male youth in Silla, an ancient Korean kingdom that lasted until the 10th century. ... Location of Southeast Asia Southeast Asia is a subregion of Asia. ...

Recent developments in the 20th century such as Shorinji Kempo practised in Japan's Sohonzan Shaolin Temple (Shorinji in Japanese) still maintains close ties with China's Song Shan Shaolin Temple due to historic links[7]. Japanese Shorinji Kempo Group contributions to Song Shan Shaolin Temple in 2003 received China's recognition.[8] Shorinji Kempo (少林寺拳法 Shōrinji Kenpō -- note that the World Shorinji Kempo Organization prefers the Romanization kempo to kenpo) is a martial art form of Kempo that was invented by Doshin So (宗 道臣, 1911-1980) in 1947, who incorporated Japanese Zen Buddhism into the fighting style. ...

Outside of China

While sometimes represented in Western films as a mystical or even mythical school of martial arts, actual access to the Shaolin Temple has until recently been restricted to China and visitors to the Temple itself. In the last few years, notably under Abbot Shi Yong Xin, there has been a concerted effort to place teaching monks outside of China in order to spread Shaolin martial arts and as ambassadors of Chinese culture. Official schools have arisen in the USA, UK, Germany, Australia and other countries. There has also been a critically acclaimed stage show, "The Wheel of Life", in which a troupe of monks demonstrates fighting and qìgōng skills within the context of a historic episode from the Temple's history.

The Shaolin Wahnam Institute has many subbranches worldwide. This school is based in Malaysia and headed by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit, 4th generation successor of Venerable Jiang Nan of the Southern Shaolin Monastery. His lineage traces back through his previous teacher, Ho Fatt Nam, who was taught by Yang Fatt Khuen, who was, in turn, taught by Ven. Jiang Nan himself. Shifu Wong Kiew Kit is the 4th generation successor of the Southern Shaolin Monastery. ...

List of styles presently taught at the temple

  • Xiaohong - Small hong fist.
  • Tongzigong - Shaolin child training.
  • Dan Dao - Single sabre technique.
  • Long – Dragon technique.
  • 72 Shaolin Arts[9]

The physical exercise known as Virgin Boy Gong (Tóngzigōng 童子功) is a form of qigong exercise stressing flexibility. ...


  1. ^ Henning, Stanley (Autumn/Winter 1994). "Ignorance, Legend and Taijiquan". Journal of the Chenstyle Taijiquan Research Association of Hawaii 2 (3): 1–7. 
  2. ^ Zhāng Kǒngzhāo 張孔昭 [c. 1784]. Boxing Classic: Essential Boxing Methods 拳經拳法備要 Quánjīng Quánfǎ Bèiyào (in Chinese). 
  3. ^ a b Henning, Stanley E. (Fall 1999). "Academia Encounters the Chinese Martial Arts". China Review International 6 (2): 319–332. ISSN 1069-5834. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Shahar, Meir (December 2001). "Ming-Period Evidence of Shaolin Martial Practice". Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 61 (2): 359–413. ISSN 0073-0548. 
  5. ^ a b Shahar, Meir (2000). "Epigraphy, Buddhist Historiography, and Fighting Monks: The Case of The Shaolin Monastery". Asia Major Third Series 13 (2): 15–36. 
  6. ^ Chéng Zōngyóu 程宗猷 [c. 1621]. Exposition of the Original Shaolin Staff Method 少林棍法闡宗 Shàolín Gùnfǎ Chǎnzōng (in Chinese). 
  7. ^ Japan's Sohonzan Shaolin Temple
  8. ^ Shorinji Kempo
  9. ^ Jin Jing Zhong. Authentic Shaolin Heritage: Training Methods of 72 Arts of Shaolin /Tanjin, 1934/ ISBN-13: 978-1847284068

See also

The Yì Jīn Jīng (Chinese: 易筋經; Wade-Giles: I Chin Ching; literally Muscle/Tendon Change Classic) is a qìgōng manual most notable as the source of the attribution of Shaolin Kung Fu to Bodhidharma; both this attribution and the authenticity of the Yì Jīn Jīng... Wǔdāngquán, is a family of Chinese martial arts known more generally as nèijiā. The name refers to the Wudang Mountains of Hubei Province, which are known for their many Taoist temples. ... Zhōu Tóng (周侗) (1040–1119 CE?)[1] was the semi-fictional archery teacher of Song Dynasty general Yue Fei. ... Statue of Yue Fei, from the Yue Fei Mausoleum in Hangzhou. ...

External links

  • Combat Applications of Shaolin Kungfu
  • Shaolin Kung Fu OnLine Library - Old and Rare Chinese Books in English
  • Shaolin International Federation - The source for Shaolin Temple Kung Fu
  • Shaolin Temple Kung Fu History
  • USA Shaolin Temple, Shifu Shi Yan Ming
  • Interesting Article On The State Of Shaolin Today

  Results from FactBites:
Shaolin kung fu - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1810 words)
3 Shaolin Kung Fu in the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644)
Shaolin Kung Fu in the Tang Dynasty (618–907)
Shaolin Kung Fu in the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644)
  More results at FactBites »



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