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General History

The History of Shaolin (Siu Lam)

The Shaolin (Siu Lam) Temple was known to have existed in Ancient China sometime after ca.500 A.D. Although it is thought the monks of the temple started off as scribes, these monks of the temple started learning and developing fighting skills and martial arts, and used these arts to protect themselves and others against evil doers.

An Indian Buddhist priest named Tamo (Bodhidharma) visited the temple sometime around ca.520 A.D. and taught the priests breathing and stretching exercises modified from Indian yoga's designed to both enhance chi's flow and build strength. Hence Shaolin picked up the basic principles of yoga at the base of its martial arts.

The monks amalgamated the prevailing Chinese philosophies of the time; Buddhism, Confusium and Taoism to become a new order which was Shaolin. A Shaolin  monk was never the attacker, nor would they necessarily use the most devastating of their arsenal in any given situation. They studied Kung Fu that they might better understand violence and thus avoid conflict. When violence could not be avoided, Karma simply returned it back to the attacker.

Over time the Shaolin Temple had unsurpassed development in kung fu, refining these arts into many specific Shaolin styles based around different fighting concepts such as how a particular animal might fight. (e.g., Dragon,snake, crane, tiger) and gave sanctuary for those warriors who chose to live in love of life and good.

About 400 years ago (ca.1600) the Manchu's took over China collapsing the Ming Dynasty. In the course of the restructured China the Manchu government managed to learn one of the predominant styles of Shaolin (one of their harder more physical styles-similar to karate) and the Manchu's taught this style to its own solders thanks to a Shaolin traitor.

On the battle fields, Japanese took armour remains from both warring sides to create the Saumari Armour Uniform.

The Shaolin Temple traditionally supported the monarchy peace and the monks would have liked to overthrow the Manchu government and restore the Ming Peaceful Dynasty.

Around 280 years ago (ca. 1720), the leading Kung Fu Masters and Elders of Shaolin got together and decided to develop a master style with which would be able to overcome all the other styles, and traitors, hence one that would also over come the style used by solders of the Manchu government. Traditionally Shaolin Kung Fu took over 18 years to Master, and they also needed a style which would take a much shorter time if it was to be something that could be effectively used against the Manchu's. Hence Wing Chun,- the only Martial Art to have the complete armed Woodenman. (Now every Martial Art claims/ uses it, although only since 1960’s where Sifu Ip Man/Sons showed the public for the first time since Wing Chuns origins, the WoodenMan was always previously behind closed doors).

The Shaolin elders realized that in each of their styles there were techniques that worked very well, and other aspects that did not. They began combining all the best of each of their styles into one system, refining their moves, ideas and techniques, using only what worked best and discarding the rest. They used their knowledge to invent a way to take advantage of the weaknesses inherent in the other martial arts systems and created the first MMA wing Chun.

Bruce Lee first USA tuition classes, were Wing Chun MMA but later reserved for the specially chosen and lower practise classes evolved.

Before Heads, Ng Mui/ Monks, had totally instructed their new system to followers, Shaolin was betrayed by the traitor monk, and the foreign government attacked the temple burning it down while many slept. Only a small number of the Shaolin masters and monks were able to escape, and were scattered throughout China. Ng Mui eventually avenged her friends against the traitor Monk.

In 1949, Ip Man, the grandmaster of modern Wing Chun, brought the style out from China and  into Hong Kong and eventually to the rest of the world.

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