Shaolin Kungfu

Originating in the Shaolin Temple in China over 1500 years ago, Shaolin Kung Fu is perhaps the most comprehensive of all martial arts. Kung Fu offers people great health and fitness, superb fighting skills, and it can be beautiful and exciting to watch, as in the movie "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."

Recognizing that body, mind and spirit are inseparable, the Shaolin monks in China embarked on three pillars of training. This training included martial arts and qigong to strengthen the body, meditation to clear the mind, and spiritual inquiry to answer the deepest questions of the soul.

The skills of Chinese Kung Fu consist of various forms of fighting: fist fights, weapon fights, and other fighting routines (including such offence and defense acts as kicking, hitting, throwing, holding, chopping and thrusting) and unarmed combat. The most renowned Five Animal Feast is to imitate the actions of dragon, tiger, leopard, crane and snake. Each kind of the Animal Quan has its specific features, i.e. Dragon Feast exercises human energy, Snake Feast for Qi (breath), Tiger for power, Leopard for bones and Crane for spirit.

In Chinese Kung fu however, a distinction is made between "external" and "internal" kung fu. It is said that "In external kung fu, you exercise your tendons, bones, and skin; in internal kung fu, you train your spirit your qi, and your mind." In addition to training to achieve a strong body and nimble limbs, there is also an "internal" training to adjust body and mind, strengthen internal organs, and increase circulation of one's qi, or flow of vital energy. The internal training, that is, practicing Qigong, is essential for Chinese Kung Fu. Chinese say: "Practicing boxing without practicing Qigong will come to nothing."

For many people, Shaolin quan has become synonymous with the Chinese Martial Arts. However, in the martial art community it represents a broad category of related styles having a connection to the Shaolin Temple. Today, some people classify these styles by geographic region, such as the "northern" (Bei) and "southern" (Nan) styles.

Bei Shaolin emphasizes extension in striking, with deep stances, and dynamic kicking methods. Nan Shaolin is characterized by short, fast hand strikes and low kicks. However, such attempts at classifications are mere generalizations. The common thread is that this martial art style must in some way reflect the history and philosophy of the Shaolin temple. 

Article source: