Zen of martial arts

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Bodhidharma, a Zen patriarch is often credited with the founding of the martial arts. He prescribed military type exercises to his monks so that they would not be sluggish, so that they would have more energy for meditation.

Since then, martial arts and Zen and Buddhism in general, has been inter-twined with the various martial arts. Here is one of many Zen stories used in the martial arts:

Once upon a time in ancient Japan, a young man was studying martial arts under a famous teacher. Every day the young man would practice in a courtyard along with the other students. One day, as the master watched, he could see that the other students were consistently interfering with the young man’s technique. Sensing the student’s frustration, the master approached the student and tapped him on the shoulder. “What is wrong?” inquired the teacher. “I cannot execute my technique and I do not understand why,” replied the student. “This is because you do not understand harmony. Please follow me,” said the master. Leaving the practice hall, the master and student walked a short distance into the woods until they came upon a stream. After standing silently beside the streambed for a few minutes, the master spoke. “Look at the water,” he instructed. “It does not slam into the rocks and stop out of frustration, but instead flows around them and continues down the stream. Become like the water and you will understand harmony.” Soon, the student learned to move and flow like the stream, and none of the other students could keep him from executing his techniques.

Shaolin Kung Fu

Shaolin Kung Fu refers to a collection of Chinese martial arts that claim affiliation with the Shaolin Monastery. Of the tens of thousands of kung fu wushu styles, several hundred might have some relationship to Shaolin; however, aside from a few very well known systems, such as Xiao Hong Quan, the Da Hong Quan, Yin Shou Gun, Damo Sword, etc., it would be almost impossible to establish a verifiable connection to the Temple for any one particular art.

According to the Jingde of the Lamp, after Bodhidharma, a Buddhist monk from India, left the court of the Liang emperor Wu in 527, he eventually found himself at the Shaolin Monastery, where he “faced a wall for nine years, not speaking for the entire time”.

According to the Yì Jīn Jīng,

after Bodhidharma faced the wall for nine years at Shaolin temple and made a hole with his stare, he left behind an iron chest. When the monks opened this chest they found two books: the “Marrow Cleansing Classic,” and the “Muscle Tendon Change Classic”, or "Yi Jin Jing" within. The first book was taken by Bodhidharma's disciple Huike, and disappeared; as for the second, the monks selfishly coveted it, practicing the skills therein, falling into heterodox ways, and losing the correct purpose of cultivating the Real. The Shaolin monks have made some fame for themselves through their fighting skill; this is all due to their possession of this manuscript.

Shaolin Temple

The Shaolin Monastery or Shaolin Temple (Chinese: 少林寺; pinyin: Shàolínsì), is a Chan Buddhist temple at Song Shan in Zhengzhou City Henan Province of what is now the People's Republic of China. The monastery was built by the Emperor Hsiao-Wen in AD 477, and the first abbot of Shaolin was Batuo, (also, Fotuo or Bhadra (the Chinese transposition of Buddha), an Indian dhyana master who came to China in AD 464 to spread Buddhist teachings. Long famous for its association with Chinese martial arts and particularly with Shaolin Kung Fu, it is the Mahayana Buddhist monastery perhaps best known to the Western world.

References

  • Warneka, Timothy H. (2006). Leading People the Black Belt Way: Conquering the Five Core Problems Facing Leaders Today. Asogomi Publishing International. ISBN 0976862700.