View Full Version : Did the Chings really burn down Shaolin Temple?

06-23-2000, 06:07 AM
I know that many people will probably freak out when they read this but I just want to throw this out there hoping that there are some knowledgeable people on this subject out there who can shed some more light on this.

Anyway, I recently came across some information both in an old article and on a Chinese language video which state that the only time Shaolin Temple was ever burned down was during the early 1900's by a warlord. According to all existing Ching dynasty official records there is absolutely no mention of Shaolin Temple being burned down by the government.

Apparently what happened was that the revolutionaries of the time ( who later beacame the Triads, ie. Hung Moon secret society, one among many others ) decided to concoct a story that the government burned the temple down. The problem was that the temple was still standing so the people would not believe it. So they made up a story saying that there were in 'fact' 2 Shaolin Temples, one in Honan, northern China and one in Fukien, southern China. They then said the one which got burned down was the southern temple in Fukien. Since there was no temple to be seen in Fukien then the people would believe it.

There is no denying that there has been an ongoing debate as to whether or not a 2nd Shaolin Temple ever existed. Many scholars have said that the Fukien temple is a myth which was perpetuated by the secret societies of the time so this would seem to fit with this new information I have found.

So what do you think? Anyone else have any more info they would like to share on this topic? I really don't want to turn this into a debate. I just want to get as much info as possible , possibly from factual evidences not just opinions.



06-23-2000, 08:44 AM
I don't think that makes any sense because first of all, archaeological evidence of the South Shaolin was found not too long ago (unless of course the Chinese government made it up but I don't think that even they could do something so underhanded). I don't know too much exact history but I would say that the southern temple burning would make perfect sense. Its not just a single fairytale here. The history of so many Gung fu styles such as five animals, Hung Ga, WIng chun are interwoven with the Fukien Shaolin temple. It is a common thread. Since history shows that the temple gave refuge to many rebel Ming outlaws, it would make perfect sense that the Chings would want to destroy it. Plus, it was only a couple hundred years ago. It doesn't seem far back enough for it to be possible to create such an elaborate and accepted hoax. Its not like we're talking about something that happened 2,000 B.C. The writer of the article you read porbably doesn't know what he's talking about...either that or he just wasn't too up to date with his info.


06-23-2000, 11:19 PM
Yes, the Chinese government would make it up. After all, with business booming up at the Honan temple and all ,why not?

Sifu Leung Ting has done extensive research on this and has found no evidence as to the existence of any temple at Fukien. Sifu Adam Hsu has also researched this and speaks about it in his book, The Sword Polisher's record.

Most of the styles which are known to be southern styles migrated there from the original Temple at Honan Province. The 5 animals of Shaolin come from Honan.


06-23-2000, 11:29 PM
Also, since most of these southern systems were made up of revolutionaries (Ming rebels)it would seem logical that they would share the same story.

I would not say that Leung Ting does not know what he is talking about as he is considered to be one of the top guys in this field of study. The video which I referred to happens to have been produced by him. The article, was written in a magazine which was very popular in the mid 70's , early 80's.It was called Real Kung Fu and was a very valuable and reliable source of information on Kung Fu. More so than any of the magazines out there today.


laughing tiger
06-24-2000, 12:12 AM
hello there, Loki :-) I have seen a couple magazine aricles about the Fukien (Fujian)temple...with pictures of the ruins and the excavation going on. I studied two southern systems, both with lineage to this temple. By the way, there were 5 temples. Actually, the oldest wasn't the Honan temple, but another northern one, mostly rebuilt, that had no martial arts practiced. It is still, today, as it was then, focussed on medicine and Buddhism. I think there is too much historical data to prove that the traditional story of the 5 tigers from the north coming south was something made up. I'm no fan of the current government there, but I think a lot of americans don't quite see it as it actually is. Just some thoughts, that's all :-)

06-24-2000, 05:23 AM

that is an interesting perspective. And yeah, Dr Leung Ting is a guy that usually knows what he's talking about. Do you know where I might be able to read his article? Thanx.


06-25-2000, 01:03 AM
Laughingtiger, how are you.

Hey, I respect your opinions and all but just because a temple may have decided to associate itself with the Shaolin Temple does not make it THE Shaolin Temple. As far as I am concerned , there has only been one Shaolin Temple. For example , I hear that Shi Guolin has recently opened up
a 'Shaolin Temple' right here in Queens, New York. I'd hardly think that any serious student or Sifu would consider this place to be THE Shaolin Temple. I would call it a knockoff. It may be a Buddhist temple which is different but I would not call it the Shaolin Temple. Many people seem to forget that The name Shaolin was given to a specific temple because of the geographical location it was in.


The magazine has long been out of print. I myself have only a few issues. The article that I have is actually a copy that I got from my Sifu who happens to have alot of these magazines in his possession. But if you just check out Sifu Adam Hsu's book , The Sword Polisher's Record' you will find alot of useful information on this subject.


06-27-2000, 08:03 AM
You know the more I read your post's on this topic..... The more I have to say Hum?... I see where your comming from & I agree with you on every point you've made so far.

PEACE /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif


06-27-2000, 08:18 AM

"Apparently what happened was that the revolutionaries of the time ( who later beacame the Triads, ie. Hung Moon secret society, one among many others ) decided to concoct a story that the government burned the temple down."

Ok first of all, there weren Shaolin temples, with other monasteries branching out from them.

The leader of the chain of Northern/Southern Shaolin Kung Fu experienced the burning of the Monasteries nearly first hand.

His name is Grandmaster Simon.

When Grandmaster Simon was a little boy, it was the time of about WWII, when the monasteries were under attack. At the time, he lived north of China. Many monks and monasteries that taught Southern Shaolin fled north, toward Northern China and Russia. My master's soon-to-be-master, a Monk, was given refuge by my master's family. In return, my master's master repayed his family by accepting him, a non-asian, as his student in Southern Shaolin.

Blah blah for 15 years.

After being imprisoned in the Nazi Camps, my grandmaster went to Northern China, where they taught Northern Shaolin Kung Fu. At that time, the Monks there thought Southern was dead. But when they saw him perform for them, they were greatly impressed and taught him Northern.

There's more to the story but thats not the point of this thread.

Anyways, the monasteries WERE burnt down. Its not a myth.

Yuen Lo

06-27-2000, 08:24 AM
"Anyway, I recently came across some information both in an old article and on a Chinese language video which state that the only time Shaolin Temple was ever burned down was during the early 1900's by a warlord. According to all existing Ching dynasty official records there is absolutely no mention of Shaolin Temple being burned down by the government."

Think about it. If you were a Nazi ( not suggesting that you were ), would you admit that you killed the Jews, Polish etc? No. Theres a thing called Antisemitism. Its the belief that the Nazi Camps never existed.

The reason why they didn't record it was the same reason why the Christian society didn't recognize the Spanish Inquisition for a very long time. Ignorance, and poor leadership.

Think about it. Communist government doesn't want its citizens to get mad and rebel do they? No. They want to keep them ill-informed, or informed with extremely biased information.

DUHHH. Think before you type. I just beat your argument with logic. Thats kinda sad.

Yuen Lo

06-27-2000, 11:09 AM
Hey YuenBaio,

I won't even take offense to that last comment you made there. What I type is based on conclusions that I have come to based on research. It is not my opinion at all. You say you beat my 'argument' with logic. Well first of all, I am not arguing or presenting an argument. I am simply stating what I have read and what I have heard ( from reliable and knowledgeable sources no less). Second, I believe you are basing your 'logic' on a false assumption. That assumption being that the monk you speak of comes from Shaolin Temple. Has anyone ever heard of a 'Grandmaster Simon' who was the head of the Northern and Southern Shaolin Temples? I haven't. Anyway, you are talking about the 1940's and I am talking about 1644. Big difference , don't you think?

Let me ask you this , the Shaolin Temple at Honan was built in the 400's I believe. It is still around today. We know where it is . If you go there today you will find it. It was supposed to have been burned to the ground more than once, yet it is still there right now. Now, the Fukien Temple and all the 'others' came after the original one and they were also burned down. How come the oldest one is still around ?Wouldn't LOGIC tell you that the newer temples should be easier to find than the old one ? Well...WHERE ARE THEY? I'd like to know.


06-27-2000, 10:40 PM
This is in reply to Yuen Biao's ignorant post.
Yuen, how did you refute Loki's post without stating a single fact toward the subject at hand. WW2 was in the 1940's and the tragety at Shaolin was in the 1600's. What does one have to do with the other?
I rather you just insult somene online directly than making yourself look like a complete donkey in response to a post.
Try again son for thou's attempt at humor has failed.


06-27-2000, 11:47 PM
Anyone who cares to learn more about this dubious Temple Kung Fu history:
www.templekungfu.com (http://www.templekungfu.com)

06-28-2000, 03:09 AM
I made it vey clear in the beginning of this post that I have no desire to turn this into a debate. My querry into this subject was simply to find out if anyone else had ever heard that the original temple had ever been burnned down at all. I want to know because I have only heard this from just one source. It does however, seem to fit with my other findings which say that there is only one Shaolin Temple. Unless there is concrete evidence to prove otherwise, I will continue to believe this way.

Longquan, no disrespect to you man, I have read some of your posts and I respect what you have written but that link you just sent me to hardly proves anything. CELESTIAL MASTER? I don't know man.

Please answer this for me.

1. Where did the Shaolin 5 Animals come from?
[b]2. Where did the 5 Elders/ancestors of Shaolin come from?[b/]


laughing tiger
06-28-2000, 03:25 AM
hey there, Loki :-) Well, from what I have heard and read (lots of chinese sources), there were actually 10 temples....5 that were around a long time. The oldest one is actually not the famous one, but the medicinal one, that has been mostly rebuilt, but is still in use. I think the reason the songshan temple is still here is due to a few things. It was rebuilt after 3 fires (one was apparently accidental) and has gone through so much turbulence because it is large, with many monks, deciples and lay persons to aid it, it is not in a location where new non-temple related buildings were built on top of it, and being the location where Chan was first really centralized and developed in China, they place a great deal of significance on that particular temple. I may be wrong, this is just from what I have been told and have read. The other 9 temples were all connected to each other directly, and the bond was Buddhism, not wushu...a few temples had no martial arts at all. Of course, there may be more facts and evidence I dont know about. Good topic :-)

06-28-2000, 04:25 AM
Chung Wen Ta Tzu Tien Vol. 10 page 302[ an Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Chinese Language]. published by the Institute For Advanced Chinese Studies, August 1963.

Refers to 2 monasteries with the name Shaolin.

One of them was built in the P'ang mountains, at the base of the Tzu-Kai peak , in Hopei province. NO MENTION OF BOXING AT THIS TEMPLE.

The second one was built at the northern base of the Shao-shi mountains, on Songshan, Teng Feng district, Honan province.

"It has often been claimed that a second Shaolin monastery was built in Chiu-lien-shan, P'u-t'ien-h'sien, Fu-chou-fu, Fukien province. There is no evidence that this temple ever existed , and in fact the Chiu-lien-shan is located in Kwangtung province. A chinese scolar named Hsu K'o wrote the Ch'ing Pai Lei Chao in 1917. This work is a 48 volume collection of folk tales and fables which includes stories of the Heaven and Earth Society [Triads] which refer to the legendary Fukien Shaolin Temple. Unfortunately some martial arts historians have regarded Hsu K'o's work as history and have used it as a source. The whole story was investigated by the Chinese historian of the martial arts, T'ang Hao. He could find no trace of a Shaolin Temple in Fukien Province."


06-28-2000, 07:56 AM
Great topic Loki:
All I can say is this is an Interesting way of looking at The History of the Shaolin temple, it's Gung Fu as well as where it came from ( Meaning the Honan temple in Northern China or the Fukien Temple in Southern China...) & if I'm reading you right then all I can say is I still agree with you on everything you've posted on this topic so far...

PEACE /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif


[This message has been edited by RAYNYSC (edited 06-28-2000).]

06-28-2000, 06:31 PM

I posted the link in response to YuenBaio's version.

From what I have heard Temple KF is bs.


06-29-2000, 04:03 AM
Sorry, Longquan. I thought this was maybe your school or something. I apologize. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif


07-01-2000, 04:01 AM
Funny that most of these "southern" rebels have more mongol or machu blood in them than han.....

They dont even know they're own race or history. They are not true chinese people. You can tell by looking at they're physioginy. IF you know what to look for.

They are a licked, lost people with no home like the hmongs and they try to build up self esteem by telling lies.

05-10-2019, 09:29 AM
Reflections by Wee Kek Koon
How China’s Shaolin Temple survived multiple attempts to destroy it – by the Chinese themselves (https://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/short-reads/article/3009309/how-chinas-shaolin-temple-survived-multiple)
Much like France’s Notre Dame Cathedral, the venerated complex has been razed and rebuilt numerous times
Wee Kek Koon
Published: 2:00am, 9 May, 2019

Flames rise from Notre Dame Cathedral in central Paris, on April 15. Photo: AFP

When the Notre Dame Cathedral was burning in Paris last month, some Chinese wasted no time in venting their Schadenfreude online.
According to their logic, the fiery destruction of a cultural symbol beloved by the French was vindication for the burning and looting of Beijing’s Summer Palace by French and British troops in 1860.
In fairness, these jingoistic rants were roundly criticised by many, including China’s heritage and other government bodies, as mean-spirited, misguided and childish.
Named for its location in the forest of Mount Shaoshi, in Henan province, Shaolin Temple is among the most venerated religious edifices in China, and like Notre Dame and many cultural monuments around the world, it has been destroyed, desecrated, razed by fires and rebuilt multiple times.
Most of the structures in the temple complex are less than 100 years old, but the original Shaolin was built more than 1,500 years ago, in 495, by the Northern Wei dynasty’s Emperor Xiaowen for the Indian Buddhist missionary Buddhabhadra, who had arrived in China 30 years earlier.

China’s famed Shaolin Temple, in Henan Province. Photo: Alamy

In 527, another Indian missionary, Bodhidharma, became the abbot of Shaolin. Building on the teachings of Buddhabhadra and others, Bodhidharma founded the school of Buddhism known as Chan (better known worldwide by its Japanese pronunciation, Zen).
Shaolin was revered as a place of great Buddhist learning, with erudite monastics and an extensive library. It enjoyed imperial patronage, even hosting the Tang period’s Emperor Gaozong and Empress Wu Zetian in the 7th century and Emperor Qianlong of the Qing dynasty in 1750.
Notre Dame Cathedral fire was ‘likely caused by short circuit’
The temple also developed martial arts techniques for self-defence and fitness, which have been so exaggerated and lionised in popular culture that they now overshadow the temple’s religious and intellectual pursuits.
Shaolin was not immune to disasters. In the 570s, the temple suffered its first calamity when Emperor Wu of the Northern Zhou dynasty launched his anti-Buddhist campaign, which practically destroyed all Buddhist temples in northern China, including Shaolin.
Whatever that was left or restored was again destroyed in 618, when armed bandits looted the temple and burned most of it to the ground.
Two centuries later, the Tang dynasty’s Emperor Wu launched another persecution of the religion, which resulted in the destruction of almost all Buddhist temples in the whole of China. Shaolin, as the pre-eminent beacon of Buddhism in the empire, did not escape the emperor’s wrath.
After that, Shaolin did not suffer any tragedy of catastrophic consequence until the early 20th century. After a fierce battle between two rival warlord cliques in the spring of 1928, Shi Yousan, a commander of the winning side, set out to destroy Shaolin just because his counterpart on the losing side had used the temple as a temporary command centre.
Fanned by a delirious fury – the same post-battle madness that afflicted imperial-era military commanders who reduced their defeated enemies’ cities or palaces to ashes – Shi doused the buildings in kerosene before bombarding them with artillery fire, ensuring that the destruction would be absolute.
When the madness of the Cultural Revolution swept across China 40 years later, Shaolin was, of course, not spared. Many of its images and buildings were wrecked, and its monastics were forced to resume their secular lives.
But things have gone well for the temple in the last three decades, culminating in its Unesco World Heritage listing in 2010. The Shaolin Temple still stands, its relative newness a testament of its tenacity in surviving the multiple attempts to destroy it – not by foreigners, but by the Chinese themselves.

I think I deserve extra cred for a 19-year-old bit of thread necromancy. :cool:

Happy Friday!

David Jamieson
05-15-2019, 12:31 PM
Cred approved.