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Shaolin Monastery Temple China

The beginning of Shaolin Temple is the most famous and mythologized part of its history.
The Shaolin Monastery is the most famous temple in China, renown for its kung fu fighting monks.
It was founded by Ba Tuo around 495 BCE, the temple was home to his disciples He was said to have sat in his cave in the mountain for nine years meditating, In the following centuries martial arts was growing more leading in warfare. By the end of the Qin (221-207 BCE) peasants are recorded fighting with staffs and tree forks, and during the Three Kingdoms period (220-280 ACE) In fact, before embracing the Buddhist faith, many of Shaolin monks were wushu masters. Located in the central plain of China, Shaolin Temple also became a magnet for retired soldiers and ruffians who were also experts at kung fu, which also made a necessity of “soldier monks” within the temple to protect it from bandits. 13 Monks set free the Tang sovereign.

As Shaolin Temple became more economically independent, it was also more tied politically to the government, a situation which reached its apex in 621 of the late Sui Dynasty. Li Shimin was taken captive after several days of fighting, and the Tang army defeated. They sent a desperate message to Shaolin Temple asking for help. The Temple’s monks, resentful of Wang Shicong for taking their land, sent 13 monks to the aid of the prince. Li went on to ascend the throne becoming the Emperor of Tang, and he rewarded the monks with 40 hectares of land and other privileges. Li, in fact, gave the title of Great General to monk Tan Zong, and permitted the Temple to retain a standing army of monk-soldiers. After repeated practice and research, Shaolin monks were able to develop different types of weapons and form their own unique styles.”

Chinese Martial art was developing outside of the Shaolin Temple as well, all over China. During the Song Dynasty (960-1279) the abbot of Shaolin invited experts from 18 kung fu schools to come exchange skills at the Temple. They stayed for three years and produced the Shaolin Boxing Manual which contained 280 routines. He also refined the earlier Five Animal boxing routines, and developed the Dragon, Leopard, Snake, Tiger and Crane forms of boxing which are the ancestors of so much of our kung fu today. Despite secrecy, the Manchus still feared the power of the Shaolin monks, and under Emperor Kangxi, early in the Qing Dynasty, the Temple was burned down.

Shaolin Temple rebuilt itself, but was burned down again centuries later in 1928 during a conflict between the warlords. The shaolin monastery china, burned for over forty days, during which sixteen temple halls were completely razed, and many cultural relics lost forever. Rebuilding again, Shaolin Temple then had to contend with the Cultural Revolution, which devastated it once more. By the end of that political era in 1978 there were only nine monks left. In former dynasties where the Temple was most glorified, Qianlong, who visited the Shaolin Temple in 1750 and was so pleased with his visit that he wrote the three characters “Shao-lin Si” (Shaolin Temple) for the sign to hang over the Mountain Gate. These same characters, in the Emperor’s handwriting, still hang over the Temple’s main front entrance door today.

In the 1980’s the pendulum swung once again in the favor of Shaolin. With the help of Henan officials who saw the treasure that was the Temple, and the astounding popular success of Jet Li’s movie Shaolin Temple, government and tourists once again helped raise Shaolin up. Today there are approximately 300 monks at the Temple, and the rise of dozens of wushu schools in Shaolin village, overseen by the fighting monks, insures that Shaolin’s martial art will be well preserved. Shaolin’s fame is now international, and even exists in cyberspace with its own web page. The future is unwritten, but it seems inevitable that however many times the pendulum may swing in the next millennium, Shaolin Temple will endure.

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