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Buddhism in Shaolin Gongfu
Bodhidharma did not support this reserved attitude and probably got himself into trouble by 'saying what you mean and mean what you say.'
Bodhidharma, according to legend, did not get along well with most of the Monks of the Shaolin Temple. They probably weren't real anxious to go out partying or visit their local health spa with "Damo," (his Chinese nickname). Currently, I have found information that leads me to believe that Bodhidharma studied Kalaripayatu martial arts in India before walking to China. This means that he was teaching more than breathing exercises: he taught fighting, staff, and sword.
Although, cave dwelling became a quest for many Monks, perhaps Bodhidharma forsook the comforts of the Shaolin Monastery and lived in a cave, far up the mountain overlooking the Temple because he was ostracized.
It is not uncommon, (that double negative was for you, Plodene) , for most people to dislike those who would alter their daily life, even if it is an improvement.
What is difficult or different can be perceived as 'wrong.'
18 Luohan (guardian angels) protect in Heaven the first Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha, or Siddhartha Gautama as he was known before his enlightenment. Upon his unscalable mountain, similar in concept to Mt. Olympus, the first Buddha resides in his ivory palace with fountains...Perhaps he remodels it regularly to keep up with current design trends...Anyway, these 18 Luohans are the guardian angels of Buddha. And, oh yeah, they carry very heavy staffs and kick ass when necessary.
The 18 Luohan breathing exercises of Bodhidharma were added to over the next 100 years until the first Gongfu Forms were created and numbered into the 10 Luohan Forms (called "Lawhorn" by my Shifu) of the Shaolin Temple. These Forms were much more energetic than their qigong ancestors and required Stance training, coordination, flexibility, stamina, strong legs, and fighting skills.
The 10 Luohan Gongfu Forms developed the monks into real spiritual warriors. Their reputation became legendary when they rescued a captured Emperor right out of a military camp. The grateful Ruler increased their land ownership and supplied the Shaolin Temple with building materials to enlarge their facilities.
The 10 Shaolin Gongfu Forms evolved from the 10 Luohan Gongfu Forms. The Chinese Moslems who occupy a vast area of Western China had already developed their own martial arts systems.
The 12 Tantui* Moslem Gongfu Forms are very short with each Tantui teaching the student only a few more Gongfu moves. Other Traditional Gongfu schools, much to our surprise, are discontinuing these Gongfu basic exercises that tend to look more like Karate than any other Gongfu Forms. However, the 12 Tantui were developed with more than just hand fighting in mind.
Moslem sabers are the basic design of all Chinese sabers. The large punches and blocks of the 12 Tantui utilize waist and leg power which lay an excellent foundation for the physical requirements of swinging a large curved saber. So, Shaolin Chi Mantis considers the 12 Tantui as essential preparation before ever teaching the Chinese saber to any student.
Chinese Moslems** are also referred to as "Hui," and are known by their main or dominant family names, the most famous of which are the Cha Family. Cha Style martial arts, a predecessor of Shaolin Gongfu, is beautiful and graceful, yet powerful and dramatic. Shaolin Monks borrowed heavily from the Cha Family martial arts to modernize (in 800 A.D.) the 10 Luohan Gongfu Forms into what came to be known by 1,000 A.D. as the 10 Shaolin Forms.
The 10 Shaolin Gongfu Forms became, and still are, the most advanced and difficult Forms of any martial arts style in human history. With every single move representing an effective life-and-death fighting situation, the Shaolin Monks combined the most adventurous and creative and yet still effective battlefield techniques into 10 Forms that would prepare the Shaolin Monks for any type of combat.
Are you noticing how even in a remote Buddhist Monastery, over 1,000 years ago, where Zen Buddhism was invented, that even the peaceful and simplistic living Monks were still driven to create the most lethal weaponry of mankind? Sadly, even Buddhist Monks can fall prey to the temptations of power and violence.
Buddhism was at the core and heart of Gongfu. Buddhism and Gongfu have however grown so far apart from each other, that most Gongfu schools do not even include Buddhism in their training anymore. Shaolin Chi Mantis disagrees with this trend, or at least seeks to teach as much Buddhism as possible to our Gongfu and Taiji students while also portraying the concepts of Buddhism in the movements and strategies of our Gongfu Forms.
If Bodhidharma, or Buddha himself, were to visit our school, we'd like to think they would be happy with our curriculum and satisfied with their workout.
Tai Chi Youth is nondenominational, so we can obtain government grants and sponsorships, yet still includes a large amount of Buddhist teachings (Dharma) and also includes Moslem teachings, Christian teachings, Native American teachings, and a sprinkle of Daoism.
Shaolin Chi Mantis is our version of Buddhist Gongfu from the original Shaolin Temple on Mt. Songshan in northern China. The 10 Shaolin Forms we teach are so old that they no longer teach them at the Shaolin Temple in China, which has been run by the Chinese Government for several decades. Their current curriculums include "Tiger, Wing Chun" and "Drunken Style" which most students request. Some of my school brothers have visited the monastery. The current crop of Monks their, trained by the government, call our Shaolin Chi Mantis Shaolin Forms, "ANTIQUATED GONGFU." So, Shaolin Chi Mantis and our Buddha Kung Fu schools are, "OLD SCHOOL KUNG FU."
Is there Buddhism in Gongfu? Rarely, except at Shaolin Chi Mantis where some students claim it is their favorite part of our curriculum. Buddhism is the frosting on our Shaolin Cake. We could turn the cake into any color of frosting and add sprinkles, violence, blood and bullets...Buddhism just tastes better.