Around 520 to 535 A.D. the famous monk Bodhidharma, also known as Da Mo, traveled from India to the kingdom of Wei to spread Chan (Zen) Buddhism. This was during the Liang Dynasty in China. After a failed meeting with Emperor Wu, Bodhidharma traveled until he reached Song Mountain in Henan province, the site of the Shaolin Temple . Bodhidharma spent nine years practicing meditation in a cave near the temple.

At the advanced age of 76, Bodhidharma noticed that monks who practiced many hours of meditation each day were in poor physical condition. They couldn't perform the physical labors necessary to maintain the monastery, and if attacked by bandits, could not even defend the Shaolin Temple. Therefore, Bodhidharma began teaching the monks the Eighteen Lohan Qi Gong exercises to improve the health of the monks. The Eighteen Lohan Qi Gong exercises of the Shaolin Temple was handed down by the ex-monk Choy Fok to Chan Heung and is still taught in the present Choy Li Fut Kung Fu system.