Shaolin kungfu originated in the Shaolin Temple on Mount Song at Dengfeng in Henan Province. The founder of the Shaolin kungfu was said to be an Indian monk, Bodhi-dharma. The proposition, though very influential, was proved to be false, for there was a monk named BodhHiharma but he knew nothing at all about martial arts. In fact, Shaolin kungfu was the manifestation of the wisdom of the monks of the temple, secular Wushu masters and army generals and soldiers.
Shaolin Disciples at Shaolin Temple
According to historical records, the Shaolin Temple was built during the Northern Wei Dynasty in the 19th calendar year of the reign of Emperor Taihe (495) and is one of China's most famous ancient temples. The Shaolin Temple once had many monks on its premises. Those monks of the lower level mostly came from the secular society and some of them knew some martial arts before entering the temple. Those who knew martial arts taught and helped each other to improve their skills. They also absorbed the experience of their predecessors and gradually developed their martial arts into the unique Shaolin school.
The Shaolin school is very popular in secular society with a myriad of followers. Over the years it was enriched theoretically and its techniques perfected to form a colossal system of fist fight. Compactness is a feature of the Shaolin school. The moves and tricks of this school are short, simple and succinct as well as versatile.
While fighting, Shaolin boxers would advance and retreat straight forwardly. They need only a small space to execute their style of fist fight which is described as "fighting along a single straight line."
Shaolin kungfu is powerful and speedy with rhythmic rising and falling of body movements. It stresses hardness of actions and blows but it also advocates softness in support of the hardness. The motto of the Shaolin fist fight says "hardness first and softness second." When jabbing or palming, the arm is required to be neither bent nor straight, in an attempt to blend external and internal forces.