The Shaolin Temple

Shaolin Temple Shaolin Temple

The Song Mountain Shaolin Temple is also known as the Northern Shaolin Temple. It was built in 495 A.D. The Shaolin Temple is generally accepted as having the greatest influence on all existing martial arts today. 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 were handed down by the ex-monk Choy Fook to Chan Heung and are still taught in the present Choy Li Fut Kung Fu system.

Choy Li Fut was founded in 1836 by Chan Heung, a well known and highly skilled martial artist of that period. Although known as a Southern style, Choy Li Fut has its origins in both Northern and Southern China. Since the system's founder had two teachers from the South and one from the North, Chan Heung decided to combine the teachings of all three masters into one system. Thus, Choy Li Fut is one of the few kung-fu styles that contains techniques from both Northern and Southern Chinese martial arts.