Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

History of Shaolin kungfu


  • Please log in to reply
69 replies to this topic

#61 ghostexorcist

ghostexorcist

    Ape Immortal (Yuanxian 猿仙)

  • Super Moderator
  • 1,581 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:America
  • Interests:Asian and Judeo-Islamic cultures, evolutionary biology, primatology, art, folklore, martial arts, drawing, historical research
  • Languages spoken:English and a little Chinese (emphasis on little)
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese History
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Chinese-Jews, Yue Fei, Shaolin

Posted 29 March 2008 - 05:11 PM

I'm looking for a history of the Shao Lin, its customs, beliefs, anything. And if anyone has any good info on the Wu Dang Mountain.


I suggest reading Prof. Meir Shahar's new book The Shaolin Monastery: History, Religion, and the Chinese Martial Arts (2008). Better late than never.

Some of the more interesting points covered:

1) Although he is not sure when the monks began to learn how to wield weapons, Shahar states they were practicing the use of military weapons (sword, spear, bow, etc.) from at least the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The monks chosen to learn these skills protected the monastery from mountain bandits that regularly laid siege to the complex. However, these monks were not apart of the religiously devout vegetarian body that lived within the monastery proper. They lived in small clusters located outside of the monastery and regularly broke the Buddhist precepts against eating meat, drinking alcohol, and killing. They were allowed to do this because of their distance from the monastery and the protection they provided. The allowances for killing were also connected to their religious beliefs.

2) The martial monks worshiped a Buddhist guardian deity called "Vajrapani," one of the Buddha's body guards. Legends tell how he regularly killed demons and other evil creatures that threatened the Buddha or Buddhism in general. Hence, this was all the justification the military monks needed to kill. This deity was always portrayed in Indian art with a club, but the Chinese eventually changed it to a staff (evidence of this appears in 12th century Shaolin steles). Vajrapani figures in Shaolin legend as the progenitor of their legendary staff method. Hence, he was connected to Shaolin arts CENTURIES before Bodhidharma.

3) Chinese fiction had a great influence on Shaolin legends. For instance, the Monkey King from the tale Journey to the West influenced the aforementioned staff legend. The legend takes place during the Red Turban Rebellion of the Yuan Dynasty. Bandits lay siege to the monastery, but it is saved by a lowly kitchen worker wielding a long fire poker as a makeshift staff. He leaps into the oven and emerges as a monstrous giant big enough to stand astride both Mount Song and the imperial fort atop Mount Shaoshi (which are five miles apart). The bandits flee when they behold this staff-wielding titan. The Shaolin monks later realize that the kitchen worker was none other than Vajrapani in disguise. Shahar compares the worker's transformation in the stove with Sun's time in Laozi's crucible, their use of the staff, and the fact that Sun and his weapon can both grow to gigantic proportions

4) Empty-handed boxing did not develop at Shaolin until the late Ming Dynasty. Before then, they were only known for their staff and spear methods. Because the Ming Dynasty revered the "Three religions" (Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism) as one universal teaching, during this time, Shaolin also studied Taoist gymnastics (stretching and breathing exorcises). These exercises were eventually combined with fist arts (in and outside the monastery) to create a new form of cultivation consisting of gymnastics, religious rituals, and combative techniques.

5) Bodhidharma was not connected with Shaolin fighting arts until the 17th century. Prior to this, he was only considered the progenitor of Chan Buddhism. The first published source that mentions Bodhidharma in connection with Shaolin arts is the Sinew Changing Classic, which was written by a Taoist in 1629. This is the source for all current legends that state he taught monks exercises to strengthen their bodies. However, as originally conceived, these exercises ultimately ended in immortality. Practitioners of the 17th century "internal school," which predates the creation of Taichi, and eventually died out, combined the Wu Dang priest Zhang Sanfeng with a Taoist God (The Dark Warrior) to create a Taoist equivalent of Bodhidharma. Hence, Bodhi became the legendary progenitor of the "External" or "Northern school" and Zhang the "internal" or "Southern school."

6) Shaolin's fame from the Tang till today was derived solely from their expertise in choosing the correct side to fight for in struggles between warring factions. For instance, Shaolin fought for the New Tang emperor, guaranteeing their future for centuries. Had they fought for the other side, they would have been exterminated. During the Tang, Buddhism was targeted because of it's foreign origins. Monks were sent home to lay life (or killed) and their monasteries where destroyed. But Shaolin was allowed to stay open ONLY because of its help to the Tang founder. Shahar gives an example of the reverse (a bad political choice). The Shaolin Temple was burnt in 1929 because they chose a side and lost.

Edited by ghostexorcist, 24 June 2008 - 12:18 PM.


#62 Gwohsau

Gwohsau

    County Magistrate (Xianling 县令)

  • CHF Rookie Member
  • 9 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Pennsylvania USA
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese History
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Martial Arts

Posted 07 May 2008 - 07:59 PM

Thanks for sharing that, I am a fan of his having read his earleir paper on the topic. Personally in regard to the subject I think Secret societies over all had far more to do with the promotion of the Empty hand traditions then anything else and most of those always made reference to Shaolin as part of their divine origin rituals and myth propogating the stories imho.

Thanks again!

Tom

I suggest reading Prof. Meir Shahar's new book The Shaolin Monastery: History, Religion, and the Chinese Martial Arts (2008). Better late than never.

Some of the more interesting points covered:

1) Although he is not sure when the monks began to learn how to wield weapons, Shahar states they were practicing the use of military weapons (sword, spear, bow, etc.) from at least the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The monks chosen to learn these skills protected the monastery from mountain bandits that regularly laid siege to the complex. However, these monks were not apart of the religiously devout vegetarian body that lived within the monastery proper. They lived in small clusters located outside of the monastery and regularly broke the Buddhist precepts against eating meat, drinking alcohol, and killing. They were allowed to do this because of their distance from the monastery and the protection they provided. The allowances for killing were also connected to their religious beliefs.

2) The martial monks worshiped a Buddhist guardian deity called "Vajrapani," one of the Buddha's body guards. He regularly killed demons and other evil creatures that threatened Buddha or Buddhism in general. This deity was always portrayed in Indian art with a club, but the Chinese eventually changed it to a staff (evidence of this appears in 12th century Shaolin steles). Vajrapani figures in Shaolin legend as the progenitor of their legendary staff method. Hence, he was connected to Shaolin arts CENTURIES before Bodhidharma.

3) Chinese fiction had a great influence on Shaolin legends. For instance, the Monkey King from the tale Journey to the West influenced the aforementioned staff legend. The legend takes place during the Red Turban Rebellion of the Yuan Dynasty. Bandits lay siege to the monastery, but it is saved by a lowly kitchen worker wielding a long fire poker as a makeshift staff. He leaps into the oven and emerges as a monstrous giant big enough to stand astride both Mount Song and the imperial fort atop Mount Shaoshi (which are five miles apart). The bandits flee when they behold this staff-wielding titan. The Shaolin monks later realize that the kitchen worker was none other than Vajrapani in disguise. Shahar compares the worker's transformation in the stove with Sun's time in Laozi's crucible, their use of the staff, and the fact that Sun and his weapon can both grow to gigantic proportions

4) Empty-handed boxing did not develop at Shaolin until the late Ming Dynasty. Before then, they were only known for their staff and spear methods. Because the Ming Dynasty revered the "Three religions" (Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism) as one universal teaching, during this time, Shaolin also studied Taoist gymnastics (stretching and breathing exorcises). These exercises were eventually combined with fist arts (in and outside the monastery) to create a new form of cultivation consisting of gymnastics, religious rituals, and combative techniques.

5) Bodhidharma was not connected with Shaolin fighting arts until the 17th century. Prior to this, he was just considered as the progenitor of Chan Buddhism. The first published source that mentions Bodhidharma in connection with Shaolin arts is the Sinew Changing Classic, which was written by a Taoist in 1629. This is the source for all current legends that state he taught monks exercises to strengthen their bodies. However, as originally conceived, these exercises ultimately ended in immortality. Practitioners of the 17th century "internal school," which predates the creation of Taichi, and eventually died out, combined the Wu Dang priest Zhang Sanfeng with a Taoist God (The Dark Warrior) to create a Taoist equivalent of Bodhidharma. Hence, Bodhi became the legendary progenitor of the "External" or "Northern school" and Zhang the "internal" or "Southern school."

6) Shaolin's fame from the Tang till today was derived solely from their expertise in choosing the correct side to fight for in struggles between warring factions. For instance, Shaolin fought for the New Tang emperor, guaranteeing their future for centuries. Had they fought for the other side, they would have been exterminated. During the Tang, Buddhism was targeted because of it's foreign origins. Monks were sent home to lay life (or killed) and their monasteries where destroyed. But Shaolin was allowed to stay open ONLY because of its help to the Tang founder. Shahar gives an example of the reverse (a bad political choice). The Shaolin Temple was burnt in 1929 because they chose a side and lost.



#63 Guan Yan

Guan Yan

    General of the Guard (Hujun Zhongwei/Jinjun Tongshuai 护军中尉/禁军统帅)

  • Entry Scholar (Xiucai)
  • 115 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:NSW
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese History
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Knowledge in history, martial arts and translation

Posted 13 September 2008 - 09:36 PM

Does anyone know if Mongilans used Kung Fu (Chinese martial arts?) And does anyone have a source to show me if they used Chinese Martial arts because I can not seem to find any.. besides a few small things.
With Strength To Lift Mountains And Spirit To Take On The World
Xiang Yu, Gai Xia Ge (Song)

Master Sun said
Ultimate excellence lies not in winning every battle but in defeating the enemy without ever fighting.
The highest form of warfare is to attack stratagy itself.

羽望見良麾蓋,策馬刺良於萬眾之中,斬其首還,紹諸將莫能當者,遂解白馬圍。

#64 Yang Zongbao

Yang Zongbao

    General of the Yang Clan

  • Master Scholar (Juren)
  • 2,758 posts
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Ancient Chinese Arsenals
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Chinese Weapons, Chinese Martial Arts

Posted 16 September 2008 - 11:28 AM

My old Tai Chi teacher was a Mongol.

Yeah, I think they did.

In all seriousness, I don't see why they couldn't. They already had their own styles of wrestling and fighting though, and I'm not sure that histories would record details as tiny as how individuals fought, or where to draw the line for "Kung Fu". You can be a skilled Chinese fighter without necessarily one of the sophisticated, civilianized systems now known as "Kung Fu".
Posted Image

#65 ghostexorcist

ghostexorcist

    Ape Immortal (Yuanxian 猿仙)

  • Super Moderator
  • 1,581 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:America
  • Interests:Asian and Judeo-Islamic cultures, evolutionary biology, primatology, art, folklore, martial arts, drawing, historical research
  • Languages spoken:English and a little Chinese (emphasis on little)
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese History
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Chinese-Jews, Yue Fei, Shaolin

Posted 10 November 2008 - 06:43 AM

I suggest reading Prof. Meir Shahar's new book The Shaolin Monastery: History, Religion, and the Chinese Martial Arts (2008). Better late than never.

[...]

2) The martial monks worshiped a Buddhist guardian deity called "Vajrapani," one of the Buddha's body guards. Legends tell how he regularly killed demons and other evil creatures that threatened the Buddha or Buddhism in general. Hence, this was all the justification the military monks needed to kill. This deity was always portrayed in Indian art with a club, but the Chinese eventually changed it to a staff (evidence of this appears in 12th century Shaolin steles). Vajrapani figures in Shaolin legend as the progenitor of their legendary staff method. Hence, he was connected to Shaolin arts CENTURIES before Bodhidharma.

Just in case anyone is interested, I have added a section to the Shaolin Monastery wiki article about Vajrapani's worship:

http://en.wikipedia....ry#Patron_saint

#66 ghostexorcist

ghostexorcist

    Ape Immortal (Yuanxian 猿仙)

  • Super Moderator
  • 1,581 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:America
  • Interests:Asian and Judeo-Islamic cultures, evolutionary biology, primatology, art, folklore, martial arts, drawing, historical research
  • Languages spoken:English and a little Chinese (emphasis on little)
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese History
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Chinese-Jews, Yue Fei, Shaolin

Posted 10 November 2008 - 07:02 PM

A lengthy review of Shahar's book:

http://www.wangf.net...?threadid=24677

#67 whitechina

whitechina

    County Magistrate (Xianling 县令)

  • CHF Rookie Member
  • 6 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Toronto, Canada
  • Interests:Martial arts, sports, women, history, culture, languages, and traveling.
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Ancient Chinese Arsenals
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Martial arts

Posted 30 October 2009 - 05:08 PM

I think to say that Chinese Wu Shu today is completely for show is a overstatement that what the Chinese call "一竿子打翻一條船"

First, Wu Shu is a insanely broad term that simply can not be generalized.

The schools around Shaolin are indeed very commercial, with the majortiy of their student wanting to become actors, but many also become body guards/securitiy guards etc.

The Wu Shus on the film screens are obviously mostly acting, that to generalize that into Wushu = acting is a very broad overstatement to say the least.

The spear on the throat thing is not a magic trick, however that doesn't really equat the monks that can do such a feat super martial artist, because it is simply a special way to work your body to make it happen, some people can do it without martial arts training too, its just that the Chinese did seem to find a way to "train" people to know how to do it instead of the usual case where people are simply naturally gifted.

As for Jet Li and Bruce Lee, both men are real martial artist that will certainly dominate any untrained person in bouts. it is pure guess work but Bruce may be slightly better because he developed much of he's own stuff, but then again, part of the reason he did it was also because he couldn't access the true ancient arts that Jet was previliaged to.


Actually your mistaken as a tradition gong fu student, Jet li does wu shu and he never learned any traditional gong fu fighting system. Mainland China develop wu shu for performance based martial arts. As for Bruce Lee he would of dominated Jet Li because Bruce learned traditional wu shu from Yip man.
好兄弟我是中國人!
“Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you riding through the ruts, don't complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don't bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality . Wake Up and Live!” Bob Marley

#68 simpleboxer

simpleboxer

    County Magistrate (Xianling 县令)

  • CHF Rookie Member
  • 6 posts
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese History
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Martial arts

Posted 17 November 2010 - 10:58 PM

Did Bruce Lee know how to grapple though? I think he did.

In modern mixed martial arts, it's been found that people trained only in striking, even if they are very good at it, are dead if they don't know the basics of grappling.

The greatest unarmed fighters ever are alive and competing today, never in world history have people from all over the world come to participate in mixed martial arts tournaments.

he did but he only put emphisis on the basics of take downs since ground figthing is virtually useless on the streets. think of situation in which you successsfully perform a arm bar on asphalt and then the guy behind he stabs u or stomps your head to a pulp. Burce was about touching his oppnent first before the oppent makes a move simple and timelss stratagy. it can be interchanged with an unexpected take down rather than the straight lead. the reason y most military training today do do ground fighting. This is becuase it implies u most likely are in teams so another can back u up(this buggs me since u dont need time consuming grappling ). Also the USMC rear naked choke is ofthe chinese type so it is implied taht all early grappler understood the impracticality of ground fighting. Greek and spartan in pankration only did ground fighting for sports purposes the real training focused on striking, stand up grapping, and locks. With out gloves striking is the prefered weapon as the vibration do a hella more damage to the body. and if u are grapping locks and tap outs are pointless the result in most ancient martial arts weither it be chinese or greek was death. With bruce lee the theory(also tested) is if u are in a fight the interception should already gain u victory over one oppnent so u can move on to the next. If none of this makse sense then you have to do research on what actaully works in urban areas if u want proof the theory works then look up paul vunak and hsi master Dan Inosantos. Also MMA fighters are far from the best quite frankly they suck. they rely on grappling because they are all bulk. The only reason they win is because they are the only professinals around these day all the so called styles they lable as bullshido are frauds or make believe fighting dumbasses. You have record of bareknucked public death matches in china were men were able to put their finger thru solid leather shirts and tear out their oppnent organs.

Edited by simpleboxer, 17 November 2010 - 11:16 PM.


#69 Freddy1

Freddy1

    Grand Mentor (Taishi 太师)

  • CHF Rookie Member
  • 457 posts
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese Religion
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Cultural Anthropology

Posted 05 February 2011 - 11:20 AM

Are there more sources on the history of Shaolin?

#70 ghostexorcist

ghostexorcist

    Ape Immortal (Yuanxian 猿仙)

  • Super Moderator
  • 1,581 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:America
  • Interests:Asian and Judeo-Islamic cultures, evolutionary biology, primatology, art, folklore, martial arts, drawing, historical research
  • Languages spoken:English and a little Chinese (emphasis on little)
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese History
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Chinese-Jews, Yue Fei, Shaolin

Posted 05 February 2011 - 01:50 PM

Are there more sources on the history of Shaolin?

See the book I mentioned at the top of the page. It is the definitive work on the subject. I can email you a lengthy research paper written by the author of the book too. Very interesting stuff.

Edited by ghostexorcist, 05 February 2011 - 01:54 PM.





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users