Shaolin Kung Fu, also called Shaolin Wushu or Shaolin Quan, is one of the oldest, largest, and most famous styles of kung fu, the “umbrella name” of several hundreds of fighting styles which represent the traditional Chinese martial arts.
It was taught together with the related arts of Shaolin Chi Kung and Zen or meditation, in great secrecy in Shaolin Monastery, at the Central Sacred summit of China, which is regarded as the “foremost monastery beneath heaven”, due to these marvelous arts taught there.
Shaolin Kung Fu sounds like magic to many people, for they have learned that it is not only an effective martial art and an excellent system for health and vitality, it is also a way to spiritual joy. Those who have the privilege to meet genuine Shaolin masters or to have a more than superficial knowledge of Shaolin tradition will appreciate that this is not an exaggerated claim.
All fascinating fighting styles of Kung Fu can be divided into four aspects or dimensions:
- Form: which is the visible aspect of Kung Fu move patterns and fighting sets
- Force or skill: localized at a certain part of the body, which refers to the ability and efficiency in using a fighting of defense technique
- Application: either in need of self-defense or through zest and vitality in work and play. Also, calmness of mind and clarity of thought under demanding situations.
- Philosophy: the learning of the accumulated wisdom of great Kung Fu masters in a beautiful, almost poetic way.
The Benefits of Kung Fu
The benefits of Kung Fu are unique between the martial arts practitioners:
- Self-defense, as fundamental aim, since Kung Fu means martial arts
- Health and fitness, in highest levels among other forms of exercise with great physical and mental competencies
- Character training, achieved both extrinsically, as moral development, courage, tolerance and reverence for life. Also, intrinsically as a long process of character building.
and especially for Shaolin Kung Fu practitioners, we could add two more:
- Mind expansion, through the experiential understanding of such awe-aspiring traditional wisdom throughout the ages
- Spiritual Development, through the meditative practice of Chi Kung and Zen, which go beyond the self-defense and keeping fit.
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By Tassos Kotzias