Shaolin Kung Fu Gets a New Set of Wings!
Shaolin Kung Fu is one of the oldest of the Martial Arts. It was started back about the time of Buddha, rode through many changes, and is still pertinent and powerful. The question we ask in this article is: can anything new be added to Shaolin Kung Fu?
The original Shaolin Kung Fu dates back to the time of Buddha. Buddha came to the Shaolin Temple from India and began to instruct the Shaolin Monks in sacred scripture. Unfortunately, the monks were of weak constitution. They fell asleep, they were easy pickings for bandits, they just couldn’t cut it.
Buddha began teaching the monks traditional exercises to help strengthen them. These were chi developing exercises, and the exercises he was teaching them bears strong resemblance to martial arts exercises. Thus, the exercises slowly turned into forms and techniques that we now know as Shaolin Kung Fu. The bandits in the area around the Shaolin Temple began to finding that the monks were no longer easy pickings, began to leave the area.
Time passed, and Shaolin passed through many trials and tribulations. Emperors came and emperors went, but Shaolin persisted, and people who studied the traditional Shaolin Kung Fu lessons came to be in great demand. They would leave the temple and train people to protect themselves, train bodyguards how to fight off bandits, and even became involved in training warriors for battle.
At last, the emperor had had enough, these Shaolin Kung Fu people were causing too much trouble, and he ordered the temple burned.
Five monks manage to flee the destruction of the temple, and they began to teach martial arts on a broader scale. Some of the systems that came about as a result of these monks teachings were Hung Gar, Fut Ga, Wing Chun, and so on.
That brings us to modern times, and state of modern Shaolin Kung Fu. While the art persists in some areas, under the hands of dedicated teachers, all too often it has been transformed into tournament arts, flowery styles that mean little, and, of course, the Wu shu of the People’s Republic of China, which is not true to the original Shaolin Kung Fu, but was made up by physical education coaches after the Great Revolution, and spread for the glory of the state, and not because of a desire for understanding the spiritual teachings originally taught at the Shaolin Temple.
One of the modern styles of Shaolin, a trim and tight system that yet encompasses the majority of the original teachings, is the Shaolin Butterfly. This art holds to the original concepts, such as animal modes of fighting like the tiger, the dragon, the snake, and so on.
It is begun with a study of six basic steps, which steps take on a twining, mixing character, and which are then place upon standing bricks. Thus, the student has to keep balance, all while learning how to kick and punch, how to cling to an opponent, how to entrap and take down with a variety of locks and throws.
There is a logic to this approach, a blessing of western culture, that enhances the eastern origins, yet enables the student to learn much faster than ever before.
That is the history of Shaolin Kung Fu to the present, and while it is a rich history, it manages to avoid the degrading of the art due to influences such as tournaments, commercial interests, and so on.