The transcript below is from the video “Kung Fu Monk vs Other Masters | Don’t Mess With Kung Fu Masters” by Fight Light.
This is a motivational video for those who train kung fu. The video contains different fights happened between a shaolin kung fu monk and other martial artists. Watch and enjoy!
Shaolin Kung Fu also called Shaolin Wushu is one of the oldest, largest, and most famous styles of wushu, or kung fu. It combines Ch’an philosophy and martial arts and originated and was developed in the Shaolin temple in Henan province, China during its 1500-year history. Popular sayings in Chinese folklore related to this practice include “All martial arts under heaven originated from Shaolin” and “Shaolin kung fu is the best under heaven,” indicating the influence of Shaolin kung fu among martial arts. The name Shaolin is also used as a brand for the so-called external styles of kung fu. Many styles in southern and northern China use the name Shaolin.
Chinese historical records, like Spring and Autumn Annals of Wu and Yue, the Bibliographies in the Book of the Han Dynasty, the Records of the Grand Historian, and other sources document the existence of martial arts in China for thousands of years. For example, the Chinese martial art of wrestling, Shuai Jiao, predates the establishment of Shaolin temple by several centuries. Since Chinese monasteries were large landed estates, sources of considerable regular income, monks required protection. Historical discoveries indicate that, even before the establishment of Shaolin temple, monks had arms and also practiced martial arts. In 1784 the Boxing Classic: Essential Boxing Methods made the earliest extant reference to the Shaolin Monastery as Chinese boxing’s place of origin. This is, however, a misconception, but shows the historical importance of Shaolin kung fu.
Some popular historians consider Bodhidharma, the first patriarch of Chinese Buddhism to have had a major influence on Shaolin Kung Fu.
The idea of Bodhidharma influencing Shaolin boxing is based on a qigong manual written during the 17th century. This is when a Taoist with the pen name ‘Purple Coagulation Man of the Way’ wrote the Sinews Changing Classic in 1624, but claimed to have discovered it. The first of two prefaces of the manual traces this succession from Bodhidharma to the Chinese general Li Jing via “a chain of Buddhist saints and martial heroes.” The work itself is full of anachronistic mistakes and even includes a popular character from Chinese fiction, the ‘Qiuran Ke’ (‘Bushy Bearded Hero’), as a lineage master. Literati as far back as the Qing Dynasty have taken note of these mistakes. The scholar Ling Tinkang (1757–1809) described the author as an “ignorant village master.”
Shaolin Temple has two main legacies: Chan which refers to Chan Buddhism, the religion of Shaolin, and Quan which refers to the martial arts of Shaolin. In Shaolin, these are not separate disciplines and monks have always pursued the philosophy of the unification of Chan and Quan. In a deeper point of view, Quan is considered part of Chan. As late Shaolin monk Suxi said in the last moments of his life, “Shaolin is Chan, not Quan.”
On the Quan (martial) side, the contents are abundant. A usual classification of contents are:
Basic skills: These include stamina, flexibility, and balance, which improve the body abilities in doing martial maneuvers. In Shaolin kung fu, flexibility and balance skills are known as “childish skill”, which have been classified into 18 postures.
Power skills: These include Qigong meditation, as Qigong meditation itself has two types, internal, which is stationary meditation, and external, which is dynamic meditation methods like Shaolin four-part exercise, eight-section brocade, Shaolin muscle-changing scripture and others.
The 72 arts: These Include 36 soft and 36 hard exercises, which are known as soft and hard qigong.
Combat skills: These include various barehanded, weapon, and barehanded vs. weapon routines (styles) and their combat methods.
Like the usual system of Chinese martial arts, Shaolin combat methods are taught via forms. Forms that are technically closely related are coupled together and are considered of the same sub-style. These are usually called the small and the big forms, like the small and big hong quan, which altogether make the Shaolin hong quan style, and the small and big pao quan, etc. There are also some styles with one form, like taizu chang quan. Indeed, these styles are not complete or stand-alone, this is just a classification of different forms of Shaolin kung fu based on their technical contents.
Shaolin kung fu has more than hundreds of extant styles. There is recorded documentation of more than a thousand extant forms, which makes Shaolin the biggest school of martial art in the world. In the Qing dynasty (1644–1911), Shaolin monks chose 100 of the best styles of Shaolin kung fu. Then they shortlisted the 18 most famous of them. However, every lineage of Shaolin monks have always chosen their own styles. Every style teaches unique methods for fighting and keeping health via one or a few forms. To learn a complete system, Shaolin monks master a number of styles and weapons.
Huang Zongxi described martial arts in terms of Shaolin or “external” arts versus Wudang or internal arts in 1669. It has been since then that Shaolin has been popularly synonymous for what are considered the external Chinese martial arts, regardless of whether or not the particular style in question has any connection to the Shaolin Monastery. Some say that there is no differentiation between the so-called internal and external systems of the Chinese martial arts, while other well-known teachers hold the opinion that they are different. For example, the Taijiquan teacher Wu Jianquan:
Those who practice Shaolinquan leap about with strength and force; people not proficient at this kind of training soon lose their breath and are exhausted. Taijiquan is unlike this. Strive for quiescence of body, mind and intention.
Some lineages of karate have oral traditions that claim Shaolin origins. Martial arts traditions in Japan, Korea, Sri Lanka and certain Southeast Asian countries cite Chinese influence as transmitted by Buddhist monks.
Recent developments in the 20th century such as Shorinji Kempo still maintains close ties with China’s Song Shan Shaolin Temple due to historic links. Japanese Shorinji Kempo Group received recognition in China in 2003 for their financial contributions to the maintenance of the historic edifice of the Song Shan Shaolin Temple.
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