Whether you’re a hardcore kung fu nut or just a casual viewer, chances are you’ve heard of the Shaolin Temple- the legendary birthplace of most of today’s major kung fu styles. Join Dmah as he explores the nature of Shaolin’s fame!
“You have offended my family and you have offended the Shaolin Temple.”
[Scenes from Martial Arts movies.]
“When you can take the pebble from my hand, it will be time for you to leave.”
Shaolin. Easily the most recognizable name in the entire world of Chinese martial arts. Shaolin Temple is an institute of martial arts of mythical proportions. But why is that? Well, the short answer is that pretty much every branch of Chinese kung fu has its origins rooted in the Shaolin Temple, namely Hongaku.
Those of you guys who are fans of our channel know how big of a deal we make of Lau Ka Long. He was a director who was super influential on our style of filmmaking, but he was a juggernaut during the Shaw Brothers era. His movies told the story of Honga, rooted in the Shaolin temple and they were the most iconic films of their time. But nowadays when we think of kung fu movies, the style we’re thinking about is wing chun, thanks to the Ip man franchise.
Even wing chun is of Shaolin origin. The Shaolin man, Ng Mui, taught the style wing chun to a girl named Wing Chun, who had to defend herself against the lecherous advances of a warlord. The warlord probably bit off a little more than he can chew, but even before movies were the main media, the tales of Shaolin were spread through books. I know, right? People used to read books for fun.
Wuxia novels were popular back then in a way similar to how comic books are popular now. In fact, most of what we know about martial arts, our ideas, even some of our misconceptions come from Wuxia novels. People like Fong Sai-yuk, the [inaudible] Pai Mei and pretty much anyone I mentioned in this video, were probably actual people. But what we know about them is usually a case of Shaolin fact, entangled in Shaolin fiction. But that’s just how life works isn’t it? Art imitates life. Life imitates art and sometimes, fact is stranger than fiction.
Did you know that the most famous movies about the Shaolin temple were made during a time when the actual Shaolin Temple was lying in ruins? Turns out Shaolin Temple was often perceived as a threat by governments throughout the ages. Starting in the 1300s with the Red Turban Rebellion in the Qing dynasty, in the warlord period. And even more recently, during the cultural revolution when the communist government took over. It was actually Jet Li’s first movie called, ‘Shaolin Temple’, that revived interest in the actual temple and eventually led to its reconstruction. Nowadays Shaolin Temple is a tourist attraction in China, drawing people from all around the world. You can go and visit the actual Shaolin Temple, thanks to the popularity of Jet Li’s movie.
What does that tell us? The legend of Shaolin grows bigger day by day. But the temple itself isn’t this magical oven where heroes are born or mythical kung fu styles are created. The Shaolin legacy is real, but it wasn’t conjured up behind these mythical walls. The secret ingredient is passion. The passion of its practitioners. Passion is what allows a nerdy anime kid like Israel Adesanya, to rise above a murderer’s row in the UFC and become Middleweight Champion. Passion is what allows a bunch of ragtag colonies to break free from England and become the United States of America. Passion is what allows two kids like Andy Lee and Brian Lee to play with the camera, watch movies, watch YouTube videos and become some of the foremost action filmmakers in the world.
I’m [inaudible] super philosophical. So, I’m just gonna end it with this, Shaolin is arguably the most legendary institute of martial arts in the world. But passion isn’t grown in institutes. Passion is grown in the hearts of men and women, who have challenges in life. You and I have challenges in life. We have obstacles we need to overcome. That means you and I can overcome these obstacles with passion. So, I’ll just leave it there.
I’m Dmah from Martial club. You guys have been awesome. Thank you for watching this video. If you like Martial club gear and want to get your hands on some, they’re now available at bigcartel.com. As always like us, follow us on Facebook, subscribe to us on Instagram and stay tuned for more martial arts action. Dmah out.
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