The History and Origins of Shaolin Kung Fu
MASTER CRISCI AT THE SHAOLIN TEMPLE IN CHINA 1993
The history of this extremely unique martial art form begins in the great and venerable temple called Shaolin. The Shaolin temple is one of the most ancient temples of Southern China. Throughout its history it was legendary for its incredible fighting monks that lived and trained within its walls.
These warrior monks were masters of kung fu. These men and women dedicated their lives to a grueling regimen of kung fu training in hopes of reaching the highest levels of inner knowledge. Throughout the history of the Shaolin monastery these monks trained for up to 8 hours per day in kung fu and tai chi in addition to farming, meditating and studying the scripture of buddhism
The name of the style (Shaolin Fut Ga Kuen) literally translates to “young forest buddhist family fist” or "The style of the monks of Shaolin Temple." Its history first starts in the early 17th century. Shaolin Fut Ga kung fu originated as a fusion of the 5 most powerful and efficient kung fu systems of the time.
The Fusion and evolution of the 5 most powerful kung fu styles
For most of its long history, China was virtually a lawless land. There were many tribes of marauding bandits that roamed the countryside looking for easy targets to seize. The Shaolin temple had many halls and grounds that would make it a perfect target for theses outlaws. Thus out of this very basic need for self protection did this class warrior monks arise. Self defense was the motivator that led these pacifists to start learning martial arts, but how did these monks first learn kung fu?
The story of the origin of kung fu is legend. During the Ching Dynasty in China, there were many dissident and malcontents that were very interested in overthrowing the central government of China. In the eyes of many, China was being ruled by foreigners.
The people to the North of China were called Manchurians. The Manchus were ethnically different from the majority of the people of China who were called Han. Many of the dissidents that desired the overthrow of this foreign government, were experts at different forms of kung fu. These kung fu masters had devised their own systems of fighting from their personal experiences and battles. Each had their style of fighting named after their surname. For example if John Smith had devised a particular style the style would then be named after him (Smith Ga Kuen) or Smith family kung fu. Many of these rebels and kung fu masters found themselves living within the walls of Shaolin Temple at one time or another. They taught the warrior monks who lived there kung fu in exchange for hiding out from the Ching government officials.
The 5 great masters of kung fu or the 5 Southern families
Early on in its history, one monk at the Shaolin temple was fortunate enough to learn from fighters that had mastered the 5 most popular styles at the time which were called Lau Ga, Li Ga, Mok Ga, Hung Ga, and Choy Ga. This Shaolin master realized the value of incorporating different styles together and took only the best techniques of each system and discarded all techniques he thought were useless or ineffective. This became Shaolin Fut Ga Kuen or Monk Family Fist.
Throughout the history of kung fu, masters have been learning many different styles and combining them to become more efficient. It was because of this open minded attitude of combining different styles, that Shaolin kung fu became and remained a very powerful system.
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