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Shaolin Monastery Shaolin Monastery and Shaolin Martial ArtsShaolin.

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1 Shaolin Monastery Shaolin Monastery and Shaolin Martial ArtsShaolin


3 WHY SHAOLIN ? SHAOLIN  The Bodhidharma Myth Bodhidharma  In historical time, the monastery made an enormous contribution to the evolution of Chinese Buddhism and to Chinese culture  Historicization of legends and fiction related to the monastery, which was done by Chan historians in Song times and Shaolin monks, has misled people’s understanding of history of Chinese Buddhism Historicizationlegends and fiction Historicizationlegends and fiction  Shaolin is the best-known monastery in modern day China because of its martial art tradition, its martial art academy, and its martial art (fighting) monks

4  Shaolin is thought to have been the origin of Chan school of Buddhism in China and it best exemplifies many “paradoxical aspects” of Buddhism  Shaolin’s martial art tradition is of both historical significance and doctrinal ramifications that contradict principal Buddhist tenets  Shaolin has come to the West and Shaolin temples have been built in the large cities in the US  Shaolin’s staff fighting and bare-handed fighting techniques resulted from the blending of Buddhist and Daoist teachings  The popularity of Shaolin martial art is closely connected with Buddho-Daoist interaction and competition

5  Buddhist scriptures stress that Buddhism can only function with the state’s support and that Buddhist institutions have to work with or even serve the state  Its rapid growth in China is due in large part to its gradual adaptation and transformation into Chinese Buddhism with the state’s support  Despite its sinicization, it was regarded as foreign religions by the elites and the state when its heavy influence was felt and anti-foreign sentiment arose  It tended to be purged and suppressed when anti-foreign sentiment prevailed, oftentimes provoked by Confucians or Daoists  Buddhism and the State

6  With only a few exceptions, the majority of Chinese rulers/emperors before Song times preferred Daoism to Buddhism, resulting in the establishment of so-called “Daoist theocracy” in early 5 th century  Daoist hermit, Kou Qianzhi (365-448) on Mt. Song in Henan took his “divine revelations” to court and urged the emperor to make Daoism state religion and himself ruler of “Great Peace” with a reign title “Perfect Lord of Great Peace”  Buddhism was suppressed  Tang emperors favored Daoism and curbed Buddhism’s influence when the state economy was plummeting  In 845, Emperor Wuzong suppressed Buddhism and all foreign religions

7  Shaolin Temple received special imperial favor primarily because Shaolin’s warriors/fighting monks helped Prince Qin, Li Shimin, future Tang emperor, defeat his enemies  Despite the favor, the state kept Shaolin in check  Nonetheless, Shaolin continued to flourish and Shaolin fighting techniques became more and more popular in the Ming and the Qing

8 Shaolin Martial Arts and Buddhism Vajrapāņi 金鋼手菩薩, a ninth- century painting from Dunhuang, is Shaolin’s tutelary god

9 MARTIAL MONKS AND MONASTIC TROOPS Martial monks, or warrior monks ( w ǔ s ē ng 武僧 ), emerged as early as the 4 th when steppe people, known as barbarians, invaded China. Martial monks, or warrior monks ( w ǔ s ē ng 武僧 ), emerged as early as the 4 th when steppe people, known as barbarians, invaded China. Martial monkswarrior monks Martial monkswarrior monks Temples in the mountains trained martial monks and organized them into “monastic troops” ( s ē ng b ī ng 僧兵 ) Temples in the mountains trained martial monks and organized them into “monastic troops” ( s ē ng b ī ng 僧兵 ) Monastic troops increased during the Tang and the Song dynasties and became widespread in Ming times because of the campaign against Japanese piracy Monastic troops increased during the Tang and the Song dynasties and became widespread in Ming times because of the campaign against Japanese piracy

10 MARTIAL MONKS’ FIGHTING TECHNIQUIES Staff-fighting and bare-handed fighting Staff-fighting and bare-handed fighting Staff was one of the “eighteen belongings” of itinerant monks known as “ring staff”, which was the emblem of monks Staff was one of the “eighteen belongings” of itinerant monks known as “ring staff”, which was the emblem of monks Ring staff also became symbol of religious authority Ring staff also became symbol of religious authority Staff not adorned with rings became the quintessential “Buddhist weapon” used by martial monks probably as early as the 4 th century Staff not adorned with rings became the quintessential “Buddhist weapon” used by martial monks probably as early as the 4 th century

11 LEGENDS SURROUNDING SHAOLIN MARTIAL ARTS  Staff-fighting legend associated with the Vajrapāņi 金鋼手菩薩 Legend: Vajrapāni, aka. Nārāyaņa  Tang account indicates that Sengchou, a Shaolin monk in the 5 th century, became a fighting monk after being helped by the god Vajrapāņi, who forced him to eat “sinews-flesh”  Vajrapāņi is a vajra wielder, a divine warrior, and Shaolin’s tutelary deity

12  Vajrapāņi inspired Shaolin’s military training, staff fighting techniques and provided physical strength to martial monks  He also provided religious sanction to monastic violence, and Shaolin fighting monks changed his image, transforming him into a staff fighting expert

13  A 12 th century stele associated with Shaolin depicts Nārāyaņa as a manifestation of Guanyin, noting that whoever studies his mudrā and mantra as described in the Sutra of the Assembled Charms can increase his body’s strength  Shaolin monks worshiped this deity from this time on  14 th century Shaolin monks changed his image, arming him with a staff and transforming him into a staff expert, progenitor of the monastery’s renowned staff technique

14  Ming Shaolin legend also elevated Vajrapāņi to the position of Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, or Guanyin  Also the monastery's "guardian spirit", replacing Lord Guan (Guan Gong) as the temple's tutelary deity. Guan Gong remained tutelary deity in most Chinese Buddhist temple  The deity’s name was changed from Vajrapāņi and Nārāyaņa to Kimnara, a name originally designated a semi-divine and semi-human heavenly musicians and had nothing to do with warfare

15 BARE-HANDED FIGHTING Creator of the bare-handed fighting techniques was attributed to Bodhidharma, who allegedly authored the Sinews Transformation Classic, which outlines a method of hardening the body to protect practitioners from being harmed Shaolin’s bare-handed fighting techniques are said to have originated from Bodhidharma’s creation, and were practiced widely in the Ming dynasty, particularly in late Ming

16 Legend says that the Sinews Transformation Classic was written in Indian language and that Shaolin monks could only comprehend a 30% to 50% of it A Shaolin monk brought the text to Mt. Emei in Sichuan, where he met an Indian holy monk Pramiti who explained point by point the text and rendered its meaning

17 A Ming author, an outsider to the monastery, eventually got hold of the translated text and published it The text was frequently referred to in Chinese fiction produced in Qing times and became widely popular in military circle

18 Since Bodhidharma was perceived as the originator of Shaolin’s fighting techniques and Shaolin monks began to practice the techniques taught in the text Both Buddhists and Daoists regarded him as the creator of different Buddhist and Daoist meditative, gymnastic, and martial art exercises and techniques Religious syncretism in the Ming provided an intellectual foundation for the late Ming evolution of bare-handed fighting

19 Despite syncretism, competition between Buddhism and Daoism continued well into the Ming and the Qing: Shaolin’s bare-handed fighting was considered “offensive”, “external” school Legends talk about a “defensive”, “internal” school created by Zhang Sanfeng, a Shaolin disciple turned into a Daoist immortal who secluded himself on the holy Mt. Wudang in Hubei (p.179) Two hand combating schools emerged: Shaolin—Northern School; Shaolin Quan Wudang—Southern School, Taiji Quan

20 Shaolin’s Fighting Monks (Wuseng) in Historical Accounts

21 Two important historical instances in which Shaolin monks resorted to armed forces During the last years of the Sui dynasty (ca.610), they warded off bandits’ attack Beginning of the Tang dynasty, they assisted the would-be emperor, Li Shimin, in his military campaign against Wang Shichong During the second half of the Ming (1368-1644) Helped defend the nation against Japanese pirates

22 Serving the emperor: Shaolin monks defeated Wang Shichong's army that occupied a strategic mountain, where the monastery's Cypress Valley Estate was situated the monks also took Wang's nephew captive; thereby pledging their allegiance to the dynasty

23 Later on, Shaolin monks were awarded titles of general and prefecture officers, although Tang emperor wanted them to disband and return to their monastery to perform their duties Shaolin monk Tanzong is said to have become very famous because of his unsurpassable fighting skill

24 Shaolin's contributions to the Tang dynasty in its very beginning were recognized in three Taizong's letters and other documents that were engraved on stones and became known as "Shaolin Monastery Stele“

25 Seven texts inscribed on the “Shaolin Monastery Stele” include: A history of the monastery A letter of thanks from Li Shimin Several Tang legal documents These documents show the following: Shaolin had a large monastic estate, including Cypress Valley Estate, that was of strategic importance Shaolin’s ability to conquer this place earned the gratitude of the future Tang emperor, Taizong.

26 Li Shimin’s gratitude expressed in his letter praised Shaolin monks’ courage and loyalty, promised lavish rewards, and reminded Shaolin monks to desist from further military action. No toleration to any unauthorized military activities Promise of reward was fulfilled, the monastery was endowed with the Cypress Valley Estate, approximately 560 acres of land, and a water mill

27 Confirmed Shaolin’s property right of the Cypress Valley Estate and verified that one monk, Tanzong, was rewarded by appointment as a general-in-chief in Li Shimin’s army Two other monks were also awarded similar titles Confirmed future emperor’s support Emperor Xuanzong bestowed upon Shaolin his own calligraphy for the “Shaolih Monastery Stele” Granted Shaolin’s property right of the Estate.

28 Shaolin monks believed that the stele safeguarded the monastery, protecting it from being destroyed by Tang government in 845, when Buddhism was suppressed and 4,600 monasteries were destroyed, many itinerant monks were Killed because they did not follow the order to return to laity. Provided a list of thirteen heroic monks, who in Shaolin’s folk lore were the thirteen staff-fighting monks

29 Defending the Nation By the second half of the Ming period, the 16 th century, Shaolin monks had established themselves as expert fighting monks specialized in a wide variety of fighting techniques, including staff (gun) fighting, spear (qiang) fighting, broadsword (dao) fighting, and unarmed hand combat (quan)

30 Shaolin’s martial arts had become a household name and were often praised by late Ming military experts, despite Shaolin’s concentration on staff fighting Decline of the regular Ming army and piracy crisis prompted people to study Shaolin martial arts and form monastic troops

31 Ming military officials mobilized Shaolin and other monastic troops to fight against Japanese pirates Shaolin monks and those clerics receiving military education at Shaolin often scored victories in battles Shaolin monks reaffirmed their renown after the piracy campaign and the Shaolin monk Tianyuan 天員 became best known for both his martial arts skills and his strategic genius

32 In early 16 th century, Shaolin monks were drafted to quell local bandit armies in North China and continued to offer military support well into the dynasty’s last years, 1640s, during which the Shaolin fighting force was annihilated by the bandit led by Li Zicheng

33 In early 20th century, Shaolin monks became embroiled in warlords' feud and sided with General Fan against General Shi, whose army defeated General Fan's and Shaolin monks and set fire to the monastery, destroying some towers and halls

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