Shaolin Kung Fu
- Shaolin temple, Shaolin warriors and Shaolin history
According to historical records, the Shaolin Temple was built during the Northern Wei Dynasty in the 19th calendar year of the reign of Emperor Taihe (495) and is one of China's most famous an-cient temples. The Shaolin Temple once had many monks on its premises. Those monks of the lower level mostly came from the secular society and some of them knew some martial arts before entering the temple. Those who knew martial arts taught and helped each other to improve their skills. They also absorbed the experience of their predecessors and gradually developed their mar-tial arts into the unique Shaolin school.
During the Northern Qi Dynasty (550-577), Shaolin monks could lift hundreds of kilograms in weight and were good at Chuan and horse riding. By the end of the Sui Dynasty (581-618), Li Shimin, king of the Qin state, fought with the self-appointed emperor of the Zheng state, Wang Shichong. Shaolin monks Zhi Cao, Hui Yang, and Tan Zong took the side of Li and helped him catch the latter's nephew Wang Renze to force the self-appointed emperor to surrender. After Li Shimin was enthroned as the first emperor of the Tang Dynasty, he awarded his followers ac-cording to their military merits and contributions. Monk Tan Zong had the title of chief general con-ferred on him, while the Shaolin Temple was given large grants of land and money to expand the temple complex. The Shaolin Temple was allowed to organize an army of monk soldiers, who acted as military people in warring times and as monks in peace time. The Shaolin school of Chuan im-proved and developed through the trials of battles and wars.
The Shaolin monks in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) were all taught to practise Wushu. In the 32nd calendar year of the Jiajing reign (1553), the Shaolin military monks took part in the battles against Japanese invaders in southern China and accomplished many military exploits. Wang Shixing of the Ming Dynasty wrote in his Tour of Mount Song. 'All of the 400 Shaolin Temple monks have good Wushu skills'.'Fists and cudgels were wielded as if they were flying during practice'. Cheng Chongdou also of the Ming Dynasty wrote in his book The Dossier of Shaolin Cudgel Fight: 'Shaolin monks are best known for their cudgel fights'. Ming general Yu Dayou, who was reputed for his anti-Japanese military service, went to teach cudgel fighting skills in the Shaolin Temple. It was in the latter half of the Ming Dynasty that Shaolin monks switched from cudgel fighting to fist fighting, so that fist fights could be promoted to match cudgel fights.
In the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the people living around the Shaolin Temple were very active in practising Wushu, which boosted the development of the Shaolin school of martial arts. In the Shaolin Temple, the rear hall was used for Wushu exercises, where various kinds of weapons were dis-played on the weapon stands ready for use at any time. Some monks practised fist fighting to safe-guard the temple. After years of exercises and practising, foot prints were stamped on the brick floor of the rear hall and these prints can be seen clearly even today. On the north and south walls of the White-Clothes Hall, there are Qing Dynasty murals vividly depicting the exercises practised by monks in the temple.
In the fifth calendar year of the Yongzheng reign of the Qing Dynasty (1727), people were not allowed to practise Wushu. However, they could not be stopped either in the secular society or in the Shaolin Temple, where Wushu was practised underground.
Apart from the Shaolin Temple on Mount Songshan, the Shaolin Temple was said to have set up more than a dozen Shaolin affiliates in other temples in the country. The Shaolin Temple on Mount Nine Lotus in Fujian Province during the Ming Dynasty was famous for developing the Shaolin Quan.
Around the 1911 Revolution against the Qing Dynasty, the Shaolin martial arts underwent further developments. Wushu clubs were established all over the country and most of them took the Shaolin Quan. Lots of patriots organized sabre and flying sword groups in order to overthrow the dynasty. They constantly practised their skills and contributed greatly to the cause.
The Shaolin school is very popular in secular society with a myriad of followers. Over the years it was enriched theoretically and its techniques perfected to form a colossal system of fist fight.
Compactness is a feature of the Shaolin school. The moves and tricks of this school are short, simple and succinct as well as versatile. While fighting, Shaolin boxers would advance and retreat straight forwardly. They need only a small space to execute their style of fist fight which is des-cribed as 'fighting along a single straight line'. Shaolin Quart is powerful and speedy with rhythmic rising and falling of body movements. It stresses hardness of actions and blows but it also advocates softness in support of the hardness. The motto of the Shaolin fist fight says 'hardness first and softness second'. When jabbing or palming, the arm is required to be neither bent nor straight, in an attempt to blend external and internal forces.
- Requirements to a Shaolin Fighter
The fighter should make light, easy and graceful movements as the cat dose
In the face of your enemy you should overrun his courage. Advance harshly, retreat without any confusion, estimate the real situation and than heavily punch with a sharp rush to the enemy.
To step like a dragon
Dragon in China is a symbol of strength and power, so steps should be strong, powerful and resolute. If steps are not resolute, something wrong will be with fists. A non-confident step means a slipshod fist. Thus, steps must be strong and confident. The step follows the movement of the body. When one step is over, the movement of the body is over too.
To act like a lightning stroke
One must be quick as a lightning stroke and instantly response to any changes. Punches should look like flash of lightning.
In the fight the most powerful strike is delivered with a shout to help more powerful ‘effort-jin' emission.
To move like a gust of wind
The practicer must move vehemently like a gust of strong wind. If you started fighting with a frontal attack, use your force on the left and right following the principle of ‘The fist is visible, the strike is invisible' and ‘If you do not see your hand striking the enemy, you will never see this enemy'.
One must stay on a foot like a driven nail.
To be as heavy as a mountain
A fighter should maintain the stances like a mountain that can not be moved. He should be trained with Mabu, the Rider Stance and Pole Standing Stance. These two exercises are the most important methods to train the strong feet and how to regulate the breathing.
To be as light as goose
One must move around quickly, lightly and instantly to response to enemy's actions like goose moving according to the lightest whiff of the wind.
To be soft as cotton
Before full exposure to rigidity, one must avoid vividly.
As hard as iron
With the help of some methods of physical parts, arms or legs, fighter must become as hard as iron and in case of attacking by things like metal objects.
- Ten Precepts of a Shaolin Fighter
- Wonderful Methods of Shaolin Monks
When anybody uses the ‘whirling horse stance', he whirls his body around its axis and hails blows around aiming at the enemy's heart, gives violent backhand strokes at the face, executes captures. One hand is moving after another, both hands are striking to the left and to the right. You can see the results of those blows. The fighter strikes with his foot forward and backward, turns somersault, moves during the fight. The hands move in the front, as if a ferocious tiger jumps after his pray.
The iron buffalo ploughs the field and fists fly around freely. Long rapid steps, the hand catches the tiger's eye, and body turns like ‘whirling horse', and circular foot movement ‘a blue dragon wags its tail' are immediately executed, and then a new turn around the axis... You are jumping, squatting, laying on the ground, delivering blows, as if with a flail, rushing down to the enemy like an avalanche, delivering heavy punches and striking the tiger's eye.
You turn and punch, your hand strikes the enemy's palm. You make a step, catch the enemy, throw and mutilate him. If, when catching the enemy, your hands interlace with his hands, you have to punch the elbow from below (‘the lightning of the iron door flashes'), in order to punch the head, use your knees and shoulders. Just as a huge bird Peng spreads its wings, you turn around and ‘catch the moon with both hands'. You strike at the heart, then ring the enemy round with both hands and after that you use method ‘the blue dragon wagging its tail' and ‘the carp fish making somersaults'.
'The golden pheasant stands in solitude' and works with a hand in the center. ‘He presses the moon to his breast', lowers the face and makes a kick, then turns the whole body around and makes a step; the fighter steps down the hall, squats and punches the enemy's face. With high jumps to the right and to the left the legs work, vehemently kicking crushing strokes. If the enemy tries to strike back, you catch his feet with both hands. You have to take all-round defense by striking back. If you can, you punch as your great ancestors did. Strike forward, rush backward, and create insurmountable slashing and obstructions to the enemy.
You make steps, rock yourself to the left and to the right and sink for some time lower. This method is executed at a low stance, you squat on the left or the right foot like a tiger climbing a mountain. You strike around, make a step and turn to the right. The enemy looses his heart and tries to escape. You will feel absolutely safe.
Wonderful Metamorphosis of the Rider
You make steps with your legs wide apart, as if you sit on a horseback and resort to metamorphosis. Deliver a heavy blow at the ribs and hasten to defend yourself, with completely natural movements you ‘come to the common spring'. You punch at the enemy's arm catch from the front, make wave backward and ‘burst into Yuzhou'. Move your foot, your hand comes back to its initial position. You whirl your body to evade a blow. You take all-round defense and your ear-rings look like a coiled pythons ready to jump. A punch, as quick as a lightning, is called ‘tie up a packet'.
72 Types of Shaolin Arts
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