Henan
, 14. September 2016
"The Highest Level of Fight is, not to Fight"

About the Life of Shaolin

They have perfect body control, present world spectacular fighting techniques and they are surrounded by a mystical fascination of peace and meditation - the Shaolin monks. The history of the Shaolin monks, the monastery and the martial art lead to a fascinating journey into another world.

x-working A group of Shaolin monks presents their kung fu performance in front of the temple in Henan.
A group of Shaolin monks presents their kung fu performance in front of the temple in Henan.

The Shaolin temple in central China's province Henan is known as the birthplace of Shaolin kung fu. Originally, this temple was a place of learning Buddhism. In addition, at that time there were many Indian monks. Therefore, the monk Bodhiruci translated the Indian scriptures into Chinese at the beginning of the 6th century AD. This was of great importance for the development of martial arts in this monastery due to Bodhidharma. He focused Buddhist teachings on mediation and is considered as the founder of Chan or Zen Buddhism. Bodhidharma also recognized that a physical bonding must be provided for meditation. Therefore, he taught the monks breathing techniques and physical exercises, with which he laid the foundation for the martial arts of Shaolin. However, it was not that much about the fight itself, but rather about strengthening and health maintaining the body.

The heyday of the Shaolin temple was about 1,300 years ago. Since then, martial arts is taught here alongside the Buddhist teachings. This had become necessary, since warlike tribes had required protective measures in the north for the rural population. At that time, more than 2,000 monks and nuns lived in the temple. During the Tang dynasty emperor Taizong (626-649 AD) allowed the temple the right to train a small group of militant monks. Thus, the martial art of Shaolin monks developed steadily.

Today, next to the originating Shaolin temple in Henan, both - in and outside of China - various temples and monasteries bear the name Shaolin. This is partly due to the Cultural Revolution, during which many monks fled from China and erected their temples elsewhere, on the other hand side the increasing popularity of Shaolin led to new monasteries.

In many kung fu films, martial arts of Shaolin is performed. Famous representatives of Shaolin canvas art are e.g. Bruce Lee, Jet Li and Jackie Chan. However, the Shaolin themselves tour with their show, in which they present their mystical martial arts around the globe. Their spiritual head is "Shi Yongxin", who heads the economic fortunes of the popular Shaolin monks and their global cultural centers since many years.

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