Martial Arts of Shaolin Temple

When people talk about the martial arts, or kung fu, they most immediately think of Bruce Lee and his great accomplishments in boxing, swordplay, and skill with knives and sticks. With his superb kung fu popularized throughout the world, he became the embodiment of Chinese martial arts. His dazzling three-section stick skills left a deep impression on audiences. Bruce Lee’s kung fu was deeply rooted in traditional Chinese martial arts.


In Chinese martial arts circles, Shaolin Temple enjoys great repute for its distinct style of martial arts – a precious feature of China’s cultural legacy. Shaolin Temple, located on Songshan Mountain in Henan Province, was first built at the end of the fifth century. Bodhidharma, a Buddhist master, came here in the sixth century. Through meditating by facing a wall for nine years he developed Zen Buddhism ( known as “Chan” in China ), hence making the temple famous throughout the country. Later generations attributed the invention of Shaolin martial arts to him, saying that due to long periods of sitting, he created a set of movements to adjust the internal circulation of qi, or chi, and relax the body and mind.

Shaolin martial arts have developed a variety of forms over the long years, hence the attribution of “72 types of Shaolin martial arts, long boxing, short boxing, knife and stick play and swordplay, each claims its own unique skills. Shaolin Temple has had a far-reaching influence on Chinese martial arts.


Shaolin children’s kung fu is a superb still highly acclaimed by martial arts practitioners. This martial art includes many movements and postures, such as “arhat slpeeping”, “child worshipping Guanyin”, “child worshipping Buddha”, etc. Children’s kung fu is a relatively difficult type of Shaolin boxing that needs complex training from childhood.


In Shaolin Temple there is one movement known as “one-finger zen”, considered one of the secrets of Shaolin. It is said that the key to this martial art lies in inner discipline, which condenses and focuses all one’s energy and strength onto one finger, so that the practitioner is able to stand up side down on that single finer, absolutely skill.

Arhat boxing is one of the many types of boxing created by the Shaolin Temple. It has been developed into several sets of movements. This set of boxing, exquisitely designed and easy for attack and defense, is powerful and unpredictable. It has long been regarded as the best of the best in Shaoling martial arts.

Shaolin martial arts stress training in the basics. Today, if you visit Shaolin Temple, you can still see the shallow holes on the ground left by generations of martial arts practitioners in the One Thousand Buddha Hall. It is their sweat and wisdom that has carried on the splendid tradition of Shaolin martial arts.

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