With so many fantastic tour operators visiting ancient China, there is no excuse not to meet the impressively skilled Kung Fu Monks of China.
The history of Shaolin Kung Fu dates back to 520 A.D. where it is believed that Indian monk Tat Moh, or Boddhidharma, gave up his Royal heritage as a Prince to become a devoted Buddhist and monk, spreading the teachings of the religion and simplistic lifestyle. There is a legend that Boddhidharma spent nine years facing a wall without speaking to anyone, studying and coming up with a way to help fellow monks overcome the weakness they faced when trying to live a Buddhist frugal lifestyle involving long periods of fasting. After this time, Boddhidharma emerged from his isolation with a series of exercises for the monks to strengthen their chi flow; this became what we now associate as Shaolin Kung Fu.
These exercises formed the base of the Shaolin Arts, which was practised in the ancient centre of the Shaolin Temple in the Songshan Mountains. The temple was established in the 5th century and is said to have been constructed by Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Wei Dynasty, later visited and further established as a centre for Chinese martial arts by Boddhidharma.
The temple can now be visited by the public, who can see Shaolin monks put on an impressive martial arts demonstration as the Temple has now become the centre of an outstanding Kung Fu school.
Popular Culture and influence
The impressive nature of Shaolin Kung Fu has made it a subject popular in the media and contemporary films. From the National Geographic Channel showcasing the highly-skilled art form in the 2008 programme Fight Science to what are considered to now be classic films and television series, such as Kung Fu starring Bruce Lee originally, Chinese martial arts have been brought to the forefront of western popular culture and the big screen.
Chinese martial arts has manifested itself into many other contemporary films where Bruce Lee’s work appears to have been carried on by such prominent actors as Jackie Chan and Jet Li, making the subject of Chinese martial arts and Kung Fu a fascinating and alluring subject for those visiting China and the Shaolin Temple in particular.