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Shaolin kungfu

History of ShaoLin KungFu

 ShaoLin KungFu, widely known as ShaoLin Quan, is the splended cultural heritage contributed by the Buddhist monks of ShaoLin Temple in the past centuries. ShaoLin KungFu has been reveared by the KungFu masters both at home and abroad as the Most Respectable art among KungFu circle for its greatest popularity and abundant content as well as its outstanding achievements and contribution to the country.

 ShaoLin KungFu bears its name because of ShaoLin Temple. ShaoLin Temple monks of different dynasties studied and practiced the prevailing fighting arts of the country, combined the merits of the other KungFu styles and the philosophy of Zen Buddhism to make their KungFu techniques most be celebrated in the world, acclaimed by the Emperors and recognized by the common people of China.

 Geographically, ShaoLin Temple is located in the dense forest of Mount Shaoshi . The wild animals like Tigers, wolves, leapords in the mountain and bushes threatened monks lives. The monks had to practice KungFu by immitating the moves of wild animals and flying birds for self defense.

 Religiously, ShaoLin Temple is the birthplace of Zen Buddhism, which took sitting meditation as the main method of cultivation. Long times meditation made the monks muscle sore, tense , tired and numb. KungFu training exercises benefit them a lot. The doctrines of Zen Buddhism and the terms of Zen Buddhism were introduced to their daily KungFu training.



 Politically, ShaoLin Temple became a royal temple since the Tang Dynasty, when the 13 staff monks rescued the prince of Tang Empire. The Emperor named the Temple No. 1 Temple Under the Heaven and permitted the Temple to own a prestigious army with 500 monk soldiers and previllege of abbacy nomination by the Emperors. Monks KungFu training for self-defence and body building began to associate with the military warfare. From the Sui Dynasty, a lot of cultivated land was given by the emperors to the Temple. The rich Temple was often stolen by the famers and robbed by the bandits. To profect the Temple fortune and land, KungFu training became the regular life of the ShaoLin Monks.

 Did Buddhidarma creat ShaoLin KungFu? According to the records, ShaoLin Temple was constructed in 495 AD, Buddhidarma came to ShaoLin Temple in 527 AD. Before Darmas coming, ShaoLin Temple had existed for more than 30 years. Monk HuiGuang and Chou were the original KungFu masters ever mentioned in the history. They were excellent KungFu experts in QiGong, sparring and weaponary. But what they practiced at that time was not systematically called ShaoLin KungFu.

 ShaoLin KungFu won its fame in the Tang Dynasty because the Emperor Lishimin praized the 13 monks of ShaoLin Temple for their contribution to help his empire. A lot of land was given to the temple to support 500 imperial monk warriors. The Temple began to pay more attention to the practicing of KungFu. ShaoLin Temple became a most respectable holy land for the KungFu masters of different styles.

FuJu, an abbot of ShaoLin Temple in the Song Dynasty, invited a lot of outstanding KungFu masters of 18 styles at regular intervals to teach the monks, perform their versatile techniques for mutual progress. Its said Zhao Kuangyin, the first Emperor of Song Dynasty had ever been to the Temple and sent several of his generals to learn from the Temple monks and teach the Temple monks. The form Taizu Chang Quan is created by the Emperor and tranformed to ShaoLin Temple. In the Song Dynasty, Shaolin KungFu developed into 170 fist forms and 130 different weapon forms. All these forms had been noted and organized into books and stored in the Temple.



 The ShaoLin Temple Record noted that 5 branch ShaoLin Temples were established in HeLi, Chang An, Yanji, Taiyuan and LuoYang at the abbacy of Fuyu, for spreading ShaoLin KungFu and Zen Buddhism. Dazhi,a Japanese came to ShaoLin in 1312 and spent 12 years to study ShaoLin Fist forms and staff forms. After his return to Japan, he began to enroll a lot of Japanese for practicing ShaoLin KungFu. In 1379, Japanese monk Shaoyuan stayed in ShaoLin Temple for 8 years under the instruction of the Abbot JuAn. He introduced ShaoLin KungFu to Japan and ShaoLin KungFu was widely spread and acclaimed as "The soul of the country" in Japan.

 The 260 years history of Ming Dynasty marked the peak prosperity of ShaoLin KungFu. Hundreds of monks were selected to be generals, four volums of KungFu works were published and 13 new forms were invented. Abbot Xiaoshan had been appointed to be Marshal of the royal army to lead his Temple warriormonks to fight against Japanese pirates in Chinas southeast coast and more than 50 of them sacrificed their lives in the war. A Southern Shaolin Temple was constructed to settle the wounded monks and commemerate those who sacrificed their lives in the war.

 In the Qing Dynasty, KungFu training was forbiddened in the country. The monks of ShaoLin Temple had to practice secretly in the night. 48 feet marks in the Thousand Buddhas Hall of the temple are the existing evidence of that period. In 1828, an important official of Qing Empire wanted to watch the performance of ShaoLin monks after his official work in ShaoLin, The monks pretended to disunderstand him at the begining, seeing this, he said that ShaoLin has been famous for their KungFu training to profect the Temple, its not necessary to hide. His non-hostility encouraged the abbot. Some outstanding monks were chosen to perform six hormony fist and sparring. The fresco in the Guanyin Hall vividly dipicts the scene of the excellent performance. The successive abbots in the Qing Dynasty had paid lot of attention to the composition of ShaoLin KungFu theory and collection of forms. Some important books on ShaoLin KungFu came into being at that time.

The disastrous fire in 1928 set by a warlord Shi Yousan witnessed thousands of KungFu books burned into ashes, temple buildings cracked into ruins and monks fled like birds.

 After liberation in 1949, especially after 1978s reform and opening policy, the governments at all levels had played an important role on the renovation, reconstruction and extension of ShaoLin Temple. A special organization was formed to search for the missing KungFu theory and forms. A warrior monks delegation founded in 1988 to perform ShaoLin KungFu both at home and abroad. Thanks to the peoples government, China Zhengzhou international ShaoLin Wushu Festival has been held every year and every other year from 1991 to invite KungFu fans and masters of different countries and regions for performance, sparring and exchange.

 Hundreds of government owned and private KungFu schools has been set up in recent years to train the youngsters of different countries with traditional ShaoLin KungFu.

ShaoLin Temple is working hard to apply for being the world history and cultural heritage.

Content of ShaoLin KungFu

 ShaoLin KungFu includes fist forms, weapon forms, sparring, Qigong and unique techniques.

The fist forms are divided into single practice forms and duel practice forms. The former is represented by Xiao Hong, Da Hong, Zhao Yang, Luohan, Lao Hong, Duan Quan, Chang Quan, Mei Hua, Tong Bei, Changhu xiyi men, Qixing, Guan Dong, Guan Xi ,Lihuan etc. And the latter is represented by Liu He, Luohanshibashi. ShaoLin weapon forms are characterized with the well-known 18 kinds of weapons single practice and dual practice of Long, short, hard, soft weapons. The most influncial and brilliant weapon of shaoLin is staff forms which has about 20 forms.

Sparring techniques of ShaoLin has more than 50 organized forms and seperate single techniques which are characterized as efficiency, vitality, Buaduajin, Yinjinjing, tongzigong, YinYang Qigong are the most representative Qigong forms of ShaoLin KungFu.

 Qinna, Dian Xue, Xie Gu are the unique techniques which show the great mercy of Buddhist monks.



Style and Characteristics

 Geographically, Chinese KungFu is divided into northern and southern style. ShaoLin KungFu represents the magnificent achievement of northern style which is plain, practical ,hard and vigorous. The following reveals the typical characteristics of ShaoLin KungFu.

 Ⅰ. The forms are designed on the basis of real fighting with perfect attacking and defence. Short but closely designed forms and simple but practical actions as well as quick and smart, changable moves fomulate the top characteristic of ShaoLin KingFu.

 Ⅱ.Practice in a straight line and in a cow-lying ground. When form training, the rising, falling, attacking, retreating actions are restricted on a straight line for future practical fighting. The exercise and drill is not controlled by space, the practitioner can adjust his pace according the space of training ground.

Ⅲ.The use of hands, eyes, body, method, step.
 By introducing the merits of Northern and Southern KungFu style, fist and palm move of ShaoLin style are characterized as rolling out and rolling inside and arms straight and bent at a certain degree.

 Staring the opponent eyes to guess his intention and frighten him (her).
Torso straight front while attacking and advancing, and side torso while retreating and falling. It stressed on fexible turning and balance keeping.

 For religious reason, ShaoLin KungFu ask the practitioners never to attack first and never to have direct conflict with the opponents stronger attack. The smart way is borrow his energy and force to defeat him. While working out, suppose an enemy, like a real fight. Dillgence, coordination, braveness, quickness, killing vitality, and practicality must be carried out in the mind of every practitioner.

 Stance are asked to keep smaller and lower.Low step while advancing and high step when retreating.

Shaolin Kungfu Training

 A. Short term class(1 week to 4 month ,4 hours training perday ) Shaolin Kungfutheory ,basic punch and kicking ,10 Shaolin Kungfu forms of emptyhand ,stick, sword ,broadsword ,Chinese conversation

 B. Medium term (5 months to 1 year 5 hours ptraining perday)Shaolin Kungfu theory ,Shaolin basic punch and kicking ,10-15 shaolin forms of empty hand stick ,speear ,sword, broadsword ,Dama cane ,broadsword ,Kun do ,Tiger hooks 9-sectior whipchain 3sectionistuff, meditation fighting and Chinese conversation

 C. Long-term class (over I year ,6 hours training perday)shaolin Kungfu theory,Shaolin basic punch and kicking,20 Shaolin forms of empty hand , different weapons , animal forms ,drunk style,Qigong,meditation,sparring ,self-defence.Taiji xingyi bagua and other styles ,Traditional Chinese medicine theory and chinese language

Pagoda Forest

Tower Forest (TaLin in Chinese) is located 300 meters to the west of Shaolin Temple. Ta in TaLin is short from an old Indian word “TaPo”, which means tomb. Usually there are bones and mantles of monks buried in the tower. Tower Forest is a grave yard for the abbots of past ages or monks who have made significant contributions to the temple. According to the rule of Buddhism, only the greatest monks can be buried inside the towers after they die. It is a reward for their merits, virtues and encouragement for later generations. The shape and size of the towers are not only affected by the style of different dynasties, but they also reflect the position, achievement and prestige of the monks.

A total of 232 towers remain. Among them there is 1 tower built in Sui Dynasty, 1 in Tong Dynasty, 2 in Song, 7 in Jin, 43 in Yuan, 139 in Ming, 10 in Qing and 2 in modern times. There are 27 towers which have no records about their age and 35 towers are incomplete. The Tower Forest area is 14 sq. km. It is the biggest tower forest in China.


The essense of Shaolin Gong Fu (Kung Fu)


Shaolin Temple in one of the earliest Chinese kung fu schools. It has a very long history with a vast content and a unique style. In total there are 708 forms and techniques in Shaolin kung fu!

All kung fu forms and weapons created by monks or lay-man monks within the temple and all kung fu that came to the temple from outside is refered to as Shaolin kung fu.

Included in the Shaolin system are the following aspects:

Fist forms: Luo Han 18 hands, soft fist, Xin Yi fist, Five fist, Xin Yi Ba, Da Hong Quan, Xiao Hong Quan, Tong Bi Quan, Luo Han Quan,Mei Hua Quan, Pao Quan, Seven stars Quan,Chang Hu Xin Yi Men Quan, Chang Quan,Black tiger form, monkey form, leopard form etc.

Weapon: Spear includes 13 famous spear, 27 famous spear, 33 famous spear, Liu He spear, Niu Zong spear, San Kung Liu He spear, Mei Hua spear,Yang style spear, Luo style spear, 24 spear etc.


Broadsward includes Shaolin Dan Dao, Mei Hu Dao , Chan Tou Dao, Gun Tang Dao,Xue Jian Dao,Chun Qiu Dao, Qian Kun Dao etc. Sword includes Er Tang Jian, Da Mo Jian, Long Quan Jian,Qi Xing Jian, Ba Xian Jian, Long Xing Jian etc.

Staff includes Shao Huo Gun, Qi Mei Gun, Liu He Gun, Yun Yang Gun,Pai Gun, Da Ye Cha Gun, Monkey staff, 5 tigers and goats staff, white snake staff, Da Mo Gun, Yin Shou Gun, Qi Tian Da Sheng Gun, Zhen Shan Gun etc.

Rare weapons include tiger head hook, Fang Bian shovel, nine-sections whip, Shao Zi staff, dagger, dart,shoting star, iron fan,iron flute,Yuan Yang ring,Da Mo cane, Niu Jiao cane.

Other Kung Fu: Skill of locking joints, skill of pressing points, soft Qi Gong, Hard Qi Gong, iron sand palm, Mei Hua stake and 72 techinques.

Forms for building up bodies inclue Shaolin Yi Jin Jing, Ba Duan Jin, Chang Shou Quan, Feng Bai Liu etc.


Some ways of caring for your health include Shaolin temple secret prescriptions, Shaolin 18 acupunctures, Shaolin plasters.

South fist is the short name for fist forms come from Shouthern Shaolin Temple.Now in Fu Jian province, Guang Dong province, Guang Xi province, Hu Nan province, Zhe Jiang province, Hong Kung, Maco etc, Wu Zu Quan, Fo Zu Quan, An Hai Quan, monkey form, Luo Han Quan, Gong Zi Fu Hu Quan, Er Lang Quan, White crane Quan, Dai Suo Quan, One finger Zen, Quan Liao Quan, Tiger eagle form, Fire Dragon form, Zun Long Quan, Hu Zhua Zhang, One finger palm, Yi Zhi Mei etc are very popular.The weapons include southern sword, south staff, south broadsword, southern spear and rare weapons.

The forms of southern Shaolin Kungfu are also very rich. They have punching , combat, paired practise, soft and hard Qi Gong etc.



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