There is allot of misinformation on the net and in the world regarding Kung Fu in particular and Martial Arts in general. Please take the time to read the information on this site to clear up the information and to ensure you get the accurate facts and truth.
Lets start with the name(s) for Chinese Martial Arts. In the Western World it is known as Kung Fu, however in most of China, both Mandarin and Cantonese, it is known as Quanshu or Quanfa . Wushu is also becoming a popular reference name around the world for the Chinese Martial Arts. The Ancient name Wuyi was common from approx. 3rd century BCE until the 19th century CE, (Wong Kiew Kit, The Art of Shaolin Kung Fu).
OLDER THAN CIVILIZATION
First Kung Fu DID NOT come from India, nor did it come from Yoga, or any other country or art for that matter. Kung Fu is unique to ancient China. According to Wong Kiew Kit (The Art of Shaolin Kung Fu) “Kung Fu is older than civilization…it occurred before people began farming and settlement, which were the beginnings of civilization.”
ALL MARTIAL ART STYLES CAME FROM CHINA
In particular, from the Shaolin Temple/Monastery/University. In approx. 495 CE, an Indian Buddhist monk Batuo was granted land in the Shao Mountains from Emperor Xiao Wen Di of the Northern Wei Dynasty, for the creation of a Buddhist Monastery in China. This is important, the Shaolin Monastery was originally created to be a Buddhist Monastery, a place for Buddhist Meditation and a place to pursue Buddhist Studies.
It is a fact that Kung Fu, as we refer to the Ancient Martial Arts of China today, were already THOUSANDS of years old when the Shaolin Temple was founded. In fact they were approx. 6,000 years old when Shaolin was founded. As noted above, the term for Chinese Martial Arts in the 3rd century BCE was Wuyi, this term was used almost 800 years before the Shaolin Temple was founded by Batuo. This fact alone proves that the Martial Arts did not ORIGINATE in India or with DaMo/Bodhidharma like the Buddhists, Yogis & Hindus like to assert.
It is interesting to point out that not only did the Martial Arts come from China; so did Boxing, Wrestling, Calisthenics, Western Exercise & perhaps even Yoga. There is evidence that Qigong predates Yoga by thousands of years, and that Yoga was originally a Qigong set(s) that was modified over a few thousand years to become what is now called Yoga.
WHO CREATED THE ANCIENT MARTIAL ARTS OF CHINA?
All the evidence points to the elusive Taoists & Wu Shamans. Somewhere around 8,000 years ago, the WORLDS FIRST Scientists, Philosophers, & Medical Doctors created the Arts that we now call Kung Fu. Alot of people both within the Martial Art community and without, claim that DaMo/Bodhidharma created the martial arts because upon arriving at the Shaolin Temple in 527 CE, he supposedly found the monks very weak and frail from focusing solely on meditation/mind and not exercise/body. There are many things wrong with this commonly accepted story. First, to say that DaMo brought the knowledge of Kung Fu with him to China from India is to ignore the fact that Kung Fu was
already THOUSANDS of years old before his arrival. Second, If Taoism is THOUSANDS of years older than Buddhism, and Taoism was/is the science of Life & Longevity as well as union with Nature and the Cosmos, then how could the monks not know about Health & Longevity. Third, Buddhism was not accepted at first by the Chinese, it was viewed as an outside FOREIGN religion that they did not want any part of. Fourth, two Generals of the Chinese Military trained DaMo in Martial Arts, most likely Qigong. Fifth, Buddhism is based on denying the body, universe and nature. To the Buddhist, they are all figments of your imagination and do not exist. Buddhists also, view the body as a trap, an article of clothing to shed so that they can enter Nirvana. Viewing the body as a trap or figment of imagination is not consistent with CREATION of Health,
Longevity and Martial Art Exercises.
WHAT MOST LIKELY HAPPENED
The Buddhists and Taoists spoke frequently, in fact throughout the Shaolin Temples history, people of all religions practiced at the Temple; Buddhist, Taoist, Muslim, Hindu & even Christian (Wong Kiew Kit, The Art of Shaolin Kung Fu). The most likely scenario, then is that DaMo did one of two things. 1) If he did indeed upon arriving at the Temple find the monks physically weak and frail, then he would have logically sought the knowledge of the Taoists who were famous throughout China for their Medicine, Exercise and Martial abilities. The Taoists, perhaps the two generals, would have instructed DaMo on the Taoist Exercise, Qigong or Dao Yin and it is possible that DaMo brought the information back to the Temple to improve the health of the monks, perhaps he did not give credit, or perhaps he did and it was lost over the last 15 centuries. This would I assure you improve the health of the monks. 2) DaMo did not find the monks weak, and the story was created along with the myth that DaMo created Kung Fu, so the Buddhists could replace Taoism as China’s cultural Religion.
WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT SHAOLIN KUNG FU?
Well we cleared up the misinformation about Kung Fu originating in Shaolin or that it came from India. Now let’s clear up another story. Yes, Kung Fu is older than Shaolin, and yes, Shaolin did create what we now call Kung Fu.
IS THAT NOT A CONTRADICTION?
No! Even though Martial Arts existed prior to Shaolin, they were not stylized or given distinct names. It was merely, your families self defense system, past down from Father to Son. The Shaolin Temple was the first to take the information from around China, and turn the various Martial Art Forms into Kung Fu STYLES. For Instance, Shaolin Lohan, Monkey, Crane, Snake, Tiger, Leopard, Wing Chun, etc… These styles were then taught to the Shaolin Monks, of which many Monks then taught the general populace. Thus allowing people to learn Martial Arts even if they were not from a family style!
IS TAIJI QUAN A FORM OF SHAOLIN KUNG FU?
MOST DEFINITELY! Chang San Feng, AKA Zhang San Feng, was a Taoist who studied at the Shaolin Temple and Mastered all of the Shaolin styles. He left Shaolin after feeling that he learned all he could there, and retreated to Wudang Mountain to search for the secret to Immortality. So far most people agree, however, what happens next varies greatly and is subject to many myths.
The popular story is that one day…Chang San Feng witnessed a fight between a Crane and a Snake, he observed how both moved, and how neither could defeat the other, after awhile both the Crane and Snake departed unharmed. Supposedly after witnessing this fight Chang San Feng created the original 13 postures of the Taiji Quan form. Also known as Wudang Taiji. He then founded a Temple on Mt. Wudang and began teaching desciples the Wudang Taiji Quan. Which would later be modified to the Chen Style, then Chen modified to the Yang Style…etc…Whether or not the mythical fight between a Crane & Snake did take place, one thing is for sure; The Taiji Quan Form/Style is a combination of two Shaolin Styles—-The Crane & Snake—-and Taoist Philosophy, Principles, Medicine & Longevity/Immortatlity Secrets!
Chang San Feng so much believed in his style that he did not name it after an animal or a modified name, instead he named it after the Universe itself, & a Taoist Universal Symbol—-The Supreme Ultimate (Yin/Yang). The true meaning of the Taiji Quan Style is much deeper than just a Martial Art.
It is very likely also that Zhang San Feng may not have witnessed the Crane & Snake fighting at all, it may be a cryptic Taoist message, a secret perhaps, that reveals Enlightenment & Immortality. This will be discussed further, for now consider that the mind and body may be the snake and the Crane is the spirit….Just consider for now!