Shaolin-Part 2by: Rick Gil
Shaolin Gong Fu (Kung Fu) is not an authenticated martial art system. What people are misled by is that Shaolin was built to study the Chen study of Buddhism. It had no violent action or physical combat. Buddhist monks are peaceful. Bodidarma only taught them 3 Natas (translated by some scholars as Katas) to help their health for long hours of meditation.
Shaolin was a sanctuary for rebellious fighting barons. Since these people were in there, they had to dress incognito as monks. From this, some disciple monks would train. The older monks (abbots) were not fighters. Perhaps, the head Monks/Abbots, allowed the fighting study per the psychological order of surfeit to suppress violent action resulting from satiety or disgust. In other words, if something is of excess, then the desire for it is expelled.
Now, Shaolin is propergandersized, commercialized, and abused like anything else that may have accredited or monetary value. Monks there are now recruited from local villagers/villages and imported Chinese Wu Shu practitioners to “put on a Tourist Show”
Shaolin Gong Fu now represented, is like a Samurai Sword made in the 20-21st Century using modern and vast production methods, i.e. “Stainless Steel.” Or “Bowie Knives” made from 440 Rockwell Steel with a vinyl sheath. Or the leather World War Two Bombardier Jacket recently manufactured and sold. These items exist to sight and touch, but not as they were at first made and intended. Would you rather own the authentic one or a remake?
Kung fu is a bad misnomer. It was first mention by a French Ambassador/Jesuit Missionary, Jean Joseph Marie Amiot, (1718-1793), during a visit to China. He had asked what it was the boxers were doing and out of humor one had replied “Gong Fu”. So the Ambassador/Missonary thought it was a fighting system and noted it in his written journals.
Most Mainland Chinese Chuan Fa Masters up in age and skill dismiss the term, along with the “Shaolin Bandwagon” altogether. Quan Fa (Chuan Fa) is the correct Chinese term for old Chinese Martial Arts. In fact family Chinese arts are known by the family name followed by the word Chuan (Kuyhn or Kuen). Example: Lee Gar Chuan-Lee Family Fist.
I have researched texts and meeting with many Buddhist Practitioners, Buddhist Monks, and older Chinese Masters, all who have “opened my eyes”; with a “sting” I may add.
So, where has per the Samurai Swords, Bowie Knives, and WWII Bombardier Jackets are remanufactured, so too Shaolin Kung Fu (misnomer). It existence through authenticity has been lost. Such the case of Shaolin Kung Fu, that a person is taught or subjected to believing that they are being taught. And, at a later time, they will also state and claim to teach Shaolin Kung Fu onto others. The dilemma is that while true: A.) Shaolin did exist. B.) Some monks of Shaolin did practice defensive or fighting methods. Shaolin did not originate as, and was not to exist as a separate martial art style. One has to only research the true development, existence, and the purpose of Shaolin. In actuality, Shaolin was built and existed for the Chinese to study and practice the Chan method of Buddhism. And for someone to make claim of being a martial art instructor or fighting monk of that monastery is totally having fallacy as to its real function. Senior monks and/or instructors should have knowledge and practice of Buddhist principles and disciplines.
If one states that they teach or study Shaolin Kung Fu, for that matter, then every martial artist practices it also. For the claim is not one to represent an actual martial art, but to point out that the person making the claim, studies a martial art. Also, that the claimant want others to recognize that making such claim to support that their own art is authentic, better, or more intriguing. Someone that would have studied Shaolin Kung Fu would not actually call it that. They would know the original term/name of the martial art at Shaolin, as well as Shaolin’s original pronounced name. Also they would know of Bodiharma, his detailed existence, teachings, and his other referenced names. Although very few people know this, this will not be disclosed in this reading, but could appear in further readings with concise detail and references.
Also, Consider the following:
For a person making a claim to teach Shaolin Kung Fu, the following is what they should know and what one now should look for:
Anyone teaching Shaolin Kung Fu should know the literal translation of Shaolin and its location.
Anyone teaching Shaolin Kung Fu should not even use the term Kung Fu. Any true master of Chinese martial arts would never use that term. In fact, someone trained at Shaolin, would know the actual name of the practiced martial art as well as the origins and names of the methods/movements.
Shaolin was not for defensive training alone. A true teacher of Shaolin would never teach the fighting methods before any Buddhist studies.
A true Shaolin Monk is humble and would never make any claims to what they know. Any type of boasting or ego was an attitude and behavior purged through the study and practice of Buddhism.
Because Shaolin was a Buddhist monastery, any monk or teacher of Shaolin would know about Buddhist Teachings such as the number and types of Mandelas, Noble Truths, Sutras, The Three Jewels, other Buddhist schools/practices, Indian (India) practices, etc.
Although Buddhist monks or priests seek charitable donations, they would never receive a monetary compensation to teach a fighting method. The major belief is not to capitalize on a situation that becomes violent if not taught to someone already disciplined in the study of Buddhism. In other words, it is against their principles to commercialize themselves just to teach someone how to fight.
A person claiming to teach Shaolin would never award different color of belts/sashes per level of study.
Buddhism has but one desired level of accomplishment. Ranking portrays materialistic properties that a true Buddhist monk (Shaolin) would never consider and implement.
Shaolin teachers display themselves as people of sacerdotalism, never of divergence, enmity, and pugnaciousness.
The Shaolin Monastery/Temple has been renovated by the Peoples Republic of China because it serves as a tourist attraction. Thus, stimulating that particular region’s economic value. Because Shaolin had been renovated as a tourist attraction, it also needed people to portray disciples and monks. The Chinese government had Wu Shu practitioners (Chinese martial artists and highly skill theatrical performers with some martial art skills) dress in the appropriate garments to display the activity of the monastery. There exists older monks or abbots that seem to be in charge, but in fact the Chinese Governmental Regime regulates them. This is quite the contradiction of the original concept of Shaolin, when government and politics were not to affect or interfere with its religious virtues. There was the tradition that government would not do so because it was considered sacrilegious. Government back then had scruples with religion and certain occult traditions.
In addition, people of all ages in the area of Shaolin are involved with the monetary prosperity of Shaolin that the afore-mentioned “practitioners” teach. Tourists can even pay to take lessons and receive certification as doing so. In its glorious past history, does it seem surreal that Shaolin did not take casual practitioners much less certify them? Why did they reject persons of wealth and accepted those of underprivileged? Although nowadays someone can state that they had learned at Shaolin, technically thus could be true. But the true fact is that they are not or will never be qualified to teach Shaolin. The genuine wholeness or authenticity of Shaolin is no longer because it no longer exists like it has in the past. In that analogy, a merchant selling World War II bombardier flight jackets that are made in the 1980’s, 90’s, etc. Or per another example, someone selling Bowie knives that are made of 440 Rockwell Stainless Steel with parts of the handle made of polymer plastic with a vinyl sheath.
Shaolin and its name became commercialized. But, sadly, because an international patent register did not exist back then, anyone can claim the name into any propaganda of advertising. The area surrounding Shaolin is a tourist market with souvenir shops, small boarding housing, photographic places, music and videotape production, all marketing Shaolin. Items sold are sandals, robes, beads, jewelry, T-shirts, etc. If Shaolin monks would promote themselves in such a way, they could never be a true monk. Shaolin was built in a mountainous region for serenity from non-practitioners. If it wanted commercialism or trade, it would have been constructed in close proximity of a town or city. A Shaolin monk with a colored belt or sash is just as obtusely satirical as one wearing a T-shirt. When in discussion or approached - A Brief Questionnaire or Outline to ask anyone teaching or practicing Shaolin Martial Art:
1.) What is the literal translation of Shaolin, its original name, and where is it actually located?
2.) When, on a very close, approximately was Shaolin Built and by whom?
3.) What are the true teachings of Bodiharma and what was his other known names?
4.) What is Buddhism and who was Buddha?
5.) What is a Shaolin monk/teacher and student/pupil called?
6.) What is the name of the martial art that people at Shaolin taught and learned? (it’s not Kung Fu)
7.) What are the Mandelas and how many are there?
8.) What are the Noble Truths?
9.) Why did people at Shaolin hold one hand vertically towards the chest?
10.) Why did people at Shaolin shave their heads?
11.) What are the 18 Lohan, how did it come into existence?
12.) What are some of the Buddhist names of the physical practices that became defensive postures?
Rating: 12 = Possible Buddhist Monk 9+ = Excellent Martial Art Scholar 6-8 = Partial Knowledge
3-5 = Somewhat Knowledgeable-but needs further education Below 3 = Superman is real and can fly!
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