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Thread: Shaolin History - Fact or Myth?

  1. #1

    Shaolin History - Fact or Myth?

    I've been told by some that the story of Bodhidharma and how he traveled to shaolin, taught the monks yogic exercises, and how they turned it into applicable martial arts is not necessarily true. Others claim that the monastery learned it's martial arts from other Chinese practitioners and combined it all to shape and form Shaolin Pai.

    What do you think is the lineage of Shaolin Gong Fu? How did Shaolin Quan form?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackEChan View Post
    I've been told by some that the story of Bodhidharma and how he traveled to shaolin, taught the monks yogic exercises, and how they turned it into applicable martial arts is not necessarily true. Others claim that the monastery learned it's martial arts from other Chinese practitioners and combined it all to shape and form Shaolin Pai.

    What do you think is the lineage of Shaolin Gong Fu? How did Shaolin Quan form?
    Probably through necessity.
    But it's an iterative process that took place over centuries apparently.
    The colloquial tales like any, aren't the whole of the story and some is plain myth filling gaps. But overall, their is still good information extant.
    Kung Fu is good for you.

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    Even disregarding the martial arts legends and just looking at it from a Buddhist perspective, there is simply no evidence for his existence as an actual historical figure. There are several treatises attributed to him which are unverifiable, and then there are even some that are demonstrably falsified, such as a commentary on the Heart Sutra which uses a Tang Dynasty translation of the Heart Sutra by Xuanzang, about a hundred years too late for Bodhidharma to have obtained.

    Usually it is just to get the treatises out there that such a famous name is attached to it, but in the end it doesn't matter who the author is if the treatise has something to offer that can be of benefit to the practitioner. The same goes for the martial arts legends. Btw, we have plenty of threads on here regarding the actual, verifiable to the furthest possible extent history of various Shaolin boxing sets. Lots to read.

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    In terms of Where the Martial Arts of Shaolin come from you should know the name 'Jin Na Luo'.

    He is generally regarded as the person from whom shaolins Martial technique was passed down.

    ALso somewhat legendary he is deified in the Wulin (Martial fraternity) and it is common to have a statue of JinNaLuoWang holding a staff alongside the pictures of earlier masters in the shrine of lineage in your school.

    I have no doubt there was a man who inspired shaolins zen tradition by exceptional dedication to his practice. Whether this man was Damo or later became identified with him I don't know but we need a name and that is as good as any.

    I also have no doubt there is some truth to the fable of JinNaLuo and how he turned his everyday movements into Martial technique.

  5. #5
    The are historical references referring to Bodhidharma. I will cite them later today or tomorrow morning sometime. I don't have the time at the moment to dig them out.

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    Bodhidharma again?

    I thought we scotched that snake years ago. BlackEChan, do a search on Bodhidharma here and you'll see.
    Gene Ching
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing View Post
    I thought we scotched that snake years ago. BlackEChan, do a search on Bodhidharma here and you'll see.
    Hang on a minute, I want to see the documents that the Ancient One passed down to Scott. I just hope he didn't store them in the same place Bawang stores his!
    Quote Originally Posted by YouKnowWho View Post
    This is 100% TCMA principle. It may be used in non-TCMA also. Since I did learn it from TCMA, I have to say it's TCMA principle.
    Quote Originally Posted by YouKnowWho View Post
    We should not use "TCMA is more than combat" as excuse for not "evolving".

    You can have Kung Fu in cooking, it really has nothing to do with fighting!

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackEChan View Post
    I've been told by some that the story of Bodhidharma and how he traveled to shaolin, taught the monks yogic exercises, and how they turned it into applicable martial arts is not necessarily true. Others claim that the monastery learned it's martial arts from other Chinese practitioners and combined it all to shape and form Shaolin Pai.

    What do you think is the lineage of Shaolin Gong Fu? How did Shaolin Quan form?
    Whatever Damo taught, it was enough to invigorate the always present Shaolin tradition and propel it to the future. The martial tradition was always there but as usual, the hagiographic ancestor Damo stuck out that he was made the Legendary Saint as we know today! Just lile All taijiquan coming from Chen village but the many naming Zhang Sanfeng as the originator of taijiquan.

    People became clever enough (therogh the centuries) to make up great storeis of non-existant lineage to become on par with them, at least try to!

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by RenDaHai View Post
    In terms of Where the Martial Arts of Shaolin come from you should know the name 'Jin Na Luo'.

    He is generally regarded as the person from whom shaolins Martial technique was passed down.

    ALso somewhat legendary he is deified in the Wulin (Martial fraternity) and it is common to have a statue of JinNaLuoWang holding a staff alongside the pictures of earlier masters in the shrine of lineage in your school.

    I have no doubt there was a man who inspired shaolins zen tradition by exceptional dedication to his practice. Whether this man was Damo or later became identified with him I don't know but we need a name and that is as good as any.

    I also have no doubt there is some truth to the fable of JinNaLuo and how he turned his everyday movements into Martial technique.
    No, I don't know Jin Na Luo. HAHA, you probably think I'm learning Shaolin Gong Fu, but in reality, I take classes from pateticorecords, my Zhongue Quanfa Sifu/Sigung. As far as I know, we don't have a statue of him if any at all!

    LFJ: Who would you recognize as the founder of Zen Buddhism? Or was there one at all? Legends say that Damo, a buddhist monk traveled from India to China to teach Buddhism. After stopping at many places, he stayed at SongShan Mountain where he resided and meditated in a small cave above Shaolin Si for 9 years. When the monks recognized him, he taught them his form of Buddhism, Chan (called Zen by the Japanese) which incorporated meditation.

    Supposedly, the monks weren't healthy, so he taught them the yogic exercises, so on and so forth...
    Last edited by BlackEChan; 03-01-2013 at 06:02 PM. Reason: grammar

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackEChan View Post

    LFJ: Who would you recognize as the founder of Zen Buddhism? Or was there one at all? Legends say that Damo, a buddhist monk traveled from India to China to teach Buddhism. After stopping at many places, he stayed at SongShan Mountain where he resided and meditated in a small cave above Shaolin Si for 9 years. When the monks recognized him, he taught them his form of Buddhism, Chan (called Zen by the Japanese) which incorporated meditation.

    Supposedly, the monks weren't healthy, so he taught them the yogic exercises, so on and so forth...
    nice legend that.

  11. #11
    in ancient times, the chinese army kept elite reserves in large famous temples. they were called monk soldiers.

    shaolin temple invented the myth of bodhidarma to justify keeping monk soldiers. they were counter to buddhist beliefs but were very effective.

    25th generation inner door disciple of Chen Style Practical Wombat Method
    Officially certified by Ethiopian Orthodox patriarch Abune Mathias
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  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by bawang View Post
    in ancient times, the chinese army kept elite reserves in large famous temples. they were called monk soldiers.

    shaolin temple invented the myth of bodhidarma to justify keeping monk soldiers. they were counter to buddhist beliefs but were very effective.
    Where did you get this info? I'm curious at how people learn these versions of Shaolin History because most documentaries and sources will tell you of the Damo Story.
    Has anyone done extensive research or has anyone asked a monk from Shaolin of it's lineage?

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by BlackEChan View Post
    Where did you get this info?
    i got the info from jesus christ.

    25th generation inner door disciple of Chen Style Practical Wombat Method
    Officially certified by Ethiopian Orthodox patriarch Abune Mathias
    grandmaster instructor of Wombat Combat™®LLC Practical Wombat Method. international academy retreat

  14. #14
    I got my book out with the references to Bodhidharma. I'll go through it and cite the earliest mentions of him later tonight. There are two or three main sources.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by BlackEChan View Post
    Where did you get this info? I'm curious at how people learn these versions of Shaolin History because most documentaries and sources will tell you of the Damo Story.
    Has anyone done extensive research or has anyone asked a monk from Shaolin of it's lineage?
    There are documents in China that record the history of Ch'an. There are three primary sources known, so far, mentioning Bodhidharma.

    I will give you the name of the sources and the name of their written works and the approximate dates the works later tonight. I just got up, I work nights. I need to spend some time with my daughter for now.

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