Many people have heard the term Shaolin temple in movies and in books but do not quite know what the name stands for or where it came from. However, it is necessary to know the meaning of this term especially if you are interested in learning the Shaolin Kung Fu and Chinese culture. The term “Shaolin” is named after the Shaolin Temple in Henan Province of China. In truth,it would take more than a few sentences to learn all about the Shaolin temple, but you have to start somewhere. The best place to go to learn about the temple and the culture behind it is to go to the Chinese people themselves.
The word Shaolin comes from the famous Shaolin Temple located in the Henan Province of the republic of China. This temple is a Buddhist place of worship that dates back many centuries ago. Construction of this great temple began around 377 A.D. when the six dynasties ruled China. However, the temple did not become a Buddhist place of worship until nearly 200 years later in 527 A.D. when a famous Buddhist monk called Very Venerable Da Mo from India visited China and introduced the teaching. This famous teacher is known as Darnma in Japan and Bodhidharma in the west.
Monks learn martial arts to keep alert at first.When the Very Venerable first began teaching his Buddhism philosophy to the monks at the temple, many of them did not pay much attention and usually dozed off during the long lectures. The teacher realized this problem and sort to correct it. He knew the only way he could get the monks to concentrate was to enhance their physical health. Thus, he introduced the eighteen Lohan patterns, which kept the monks fit.
This pattern later came to be known as Kung Fu, and it laid the foundation for many other martial arts patterns later on. By the time the Very Venerable died, he had developed to vital martial arts manuals for his students, which are the Yi jingChing. Many experts now consider the Very Venerable to be the founding father of Kung Fu.
China Kung Fu spreads to the rest of the world
At first, only monks learned the Shaolin Kungfu in the temple due to the need to keep alert to the Buddhist teachings. These monks were famous throughout the republic for their excellent martial art skills. However, the temple later began accepting other disciples from outside the temple. Upon graduation from the temple, the disciples would return to their respective regions in the country and spread what they had learned.
For his last test, a student had to pass through a lane of one hundred and eight wooden robots. These robots were set in such a way that they would attack the graduating student with all the essential Kung Fu techniques to test his skill. If he did not pass all the robots successfully, he would remain in the temple and continue training. All the outstanding students were given the opportunity to go for advanced training in the inner Da Mo Chamber. These advanced students often enhanced the Kung Fu skills or invented others.