The Origins of Shaolin Kung Fu
Bodhidharma (Tat Moh) the founder of Shaolin Kung Fu.
The Origins of Shaolin Kung Fu
When it comes to martial arts, one of the most popular known styles is Shaolin Kung Fu. Once popular only in China, it has also gained attention from fans of martial arts all over the globe and is now deemed to be one of the most practiced, even outside the country where it originated. This form of martial arts is not purely Chinese in origin; it is actually believed to be an expression of Buddhism, which is where its roots can be traced.
How It All Started
Tat Moh, an Indian monk who is also known as Bodhidharma, is known as the founder of Shaolin Kung Fu. Tat Moh was originally from Southern India where he was a prince. In spite of his luxurious and royal life, he decided to live the life of a simple monk, and he embraced Buddhism. In order to be an inspiration to other people and spread the principles of Buddhism, he traveled all over the world until his travels brought him to China. It is here that the origins of Shaolin Kung Fu come to light.
When Tat Moh arrived in China, he built a monastery and named it Shaolin, which means Little Forest in English. He discovered that the people lacked some of the necessary skills required to practice the principles of Buddhism. Dedicated to meeting the challenge of how to help the people be better prepared for the practices of Buddhism he spent some time living in a cave, meditating, in order to come up with a solution. It took him nine years to create exercises that were meant to improve the vitality of the monks and help them with their practices. These exercises were combined with ‘true yoga’ practices and formed the basis of Shaolin Kung Fu as it is known today.
A Quick Look at the Early Applications
In order to have a better understanding of the origins of Shaolin Kung Fu, it is also important to take a look at their early applications. In the past, villains and bandits were common in China, and a general disregard for the laws was common place. Monks being of a gentle persuasion did not know how to defend themselves. Shaolin Kung Fu, even during it’s early stage of development provided them with a practical, simple and effective ability with which to defend themselves.
Originally, the monks practiced a style of Kung Fu known as Lohon characterized by strong body posture and low stances, this formed the basis of the style to be. Through the years, the style has evolved, acquiring a wide variety of stances, moves, combinations, kicks, punches and acrobatic movements to become the Shaolin Kung Fu that is known today.
Before Shaolin Kung Fu, there were already other forms of martial arts that were practiced in China, such as Shuai Jiao or Chinese wrestling. None of the earlier forms of martial arts however developed the level of following and popularity as Shaolin Kung Fu.
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The Shaolin Temple
The Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng, Henan Province, China.