The Cultural Revolution and Wushu - The modern day Siu Lum (Shaolin) Monasteries were rebuilt recently under control of communist China and no longer practices authentic Siu Lum (Shaolin) martial arts, this also includes most Siu Lum (Shaolin) schools throughout the world. The arts that are taught and practiced are forms of modern day Wushu. The term Wushu originally translated as Martial Art in Chinese and was a general term referring to any fighting style. But after the Cultural Revolution in China the term Wushu took on a different meaning. The Chinese government forced the standardization of all Chinese Martial Arts. They virtually eliminated and outlawed all traditional Martial Arts. The standardization created Modern Wushu (this included Tai Chi), which has little to no resemblance of the original authentic styles. Wushu was made more flashy and acrobatic. The emphasis is on how it looks to spectators and nearly all of the original principles and fighting methods were removed (except for basics). In many cases the government imprisoned, tortured or killed those who were practicing the traditional styles during the Cultural Revolution. Many of China's greatest Masters lost their lives at this time. The term Gung Fu (Kung Fu) is now the most common term used to refer to Traditional Chinese Martial Arts. Many Wushu and Tai Chi practitioners would like to believe that what they are practicing is authentic, but those well versed in the authentic traditional styles know very clearly that what is being practiced is watered down to almost nothing and is good mainly for show.

   Most of the Masters who possess the authentic styles with true lineage back to Siu Lum (Shaolin) left the country around the time of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960's or before. We are very lucky that a handful of those Masters settled in the US, Taiwan, Great Britain, Canada and other parts of the world. Now some of their students continued to pass on the authentic arts to the next generation, hopefully keeping these powerful traditional styles and training methods alive for future generations to come.

Brief History of Nam Siu Lum Kuen (Southern Shaolin Fist)

     Although many cultures and styles claim their arts to have originated solely within their country or culture, most modern day historians have traced organized Martial Arts back to India and China. In China as early as the 16th century BC during the Shang Dynasty and the reign of the Yellow Emperor martial arts were written about. Evidence suggest that Martial Arts in India and China have been developing for 5000 years or more.
     For thousands of years the martial arts have been practiced and developed by Masters. Much of this information was developed to a high level in the Siu Lum (Shaolin) Monastery by the Siu lum Monks. Combining styles is not a new concept and has been practiced by high level practitioners for centuries to create extremely effective and complete systems. Siu Lum Gung Fu (Kung Fu) is probably the oldest form of "Mixed Martial Arts" in existence. Because Martial Arts have existed for thousands of years, it seems only logical that great Masters would have mixed styles to create complete systems like Siu Lum Kuen. Because the arts were originally developed during volatile war times all aspects of fighting and self defense were combined into comprehensive systems. Through a vast collection of knowledge and experience these arts have slowly been refined, at times integrating different system together to create a natural evolution of constantly changing arts to adapt to particular time periods and situations. A good example of this is the story of Hung Ga's originator Hung Hei Gun. Hung originally studied under Gee Sin Sim See a famous Siu Lum Monk. Hung then sought out the Fukien White Crane system from Fong Wing Chun (no relation to Yim Wing Chun), who he eventually married. The Fukien White Crane system is believed to have been developed by the same Siu Lum Nun, Ng Mui, who taught Yim Wing Chun (Founder of the Wing Chun system). Hung then combined the systems he had learned into Hung Ga Kuen (Hung Family Fist). Hung Hei Guan's system was so powerful that he became very famous for his skills.
     Kung Fu (pronounced Gung Fu in Chinese) literally translates as "work man (human)" and is a term used to refer to the time and effort put into refining a particular skill. It is most commonly used in reference to the Chinese martial arts in China and America. Nam Siu Lum Kuen (Cantonese) and Nan Shaolin Chuan (Mandarin) roughly translate as Southern Shaolin Fist Style. The word Siu Lum or Shaolin translates as Small Forest and was the name of the famous monasteries where the Martial Arts were highly developed and flourished in ancient China. When the arts finally reached Japan through Okinawa the Japanese pronounced Shaolin as Shorin and the word Ji is Chinese for Temple hence the Japanese name Shorinji Kenpo. The Japanese pronounced Kuen Po, which roughly means fist book or fist manual in Chinese, as Kenpo or Kempo, which translates as fist way or fist law in Japanese. So the words Shorinji Kenpo or as Americans call it Chinese Kenpo all were ways to describe the arts that were developed in Siu Lum (Shaolin) Monastery.

Chan (Zen)

     According to legend Chan (Zen) Buddhism became established in China during the (North-South dynasty) about 550 A.D. The Indian Priest, Bodhidarma (known as Da Mo in Chinese), became the first patriarch of Chan (Zen) Buddhism in China. He traveled until he reached the Siu Lum (Shaolin) Monastery in Henan province. Da Mo spent nine years in meditation and developed 3 sets of exercises - The 18 Lohan Form, The Muscle and Tendon Change set and The Bone Marrow Washing set. He then began teaching these arts to the monks of the Siu Lum (Shaolin) Monastery. During his stay at the Monastery, Da Mo observed that the monks who practiced hours of meditation each day were in poor physical condition. Besides being unable to maintain good meditation practices, they also could not perform the physical labors necessary to maintain the Monastery and if the Monastery was attacked they would not have the strength to defend the Monastery. So he began teaching exercises designed to promote health, strength and spiritual development.

     Before Bodhidarma came to Siu Lum (Shaolin), martial arts were militaristic in nature. Only the noble and professional soldiers were allowed to study the fighting arts. Spears and swords were the most common weapons, and training in their use was reserved for the military. If the public was taught, it was on a limited scale. 
     The Tang dynasty (618-907 A.D.) was a volatile time period in China. Martial arts and the development of more specialty weapons flourished during this era. Siu Lum (Shaolin) Monastery monks, at the request of the government, used their martial arts training to help fight threats to the Tang rulers. From that time, the rest of China knew that some monks had been martial artists before joining the Monastery and their new responsibilities were to protect its occupants and land. Their training within the Monastery had served to expand and polish their martial art backgrounds.
     At the end of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644 A. D.), a Master turned Siu Lum (Shaolin) monk named Zhue Yuen changed the course of Siu Lum (Shaolin) martial arts. Zhue Yuen had been an expert in empty hand fighting and sword techniques before he became a Buddhist monk. When he joined the Monastery, he realized Siu Lum (Shaolin) Gung Fu (Kung Fu) was too external and employed too much force against force. Zhue Yuen redesigned the system to fit a more balanced structure of external and internal strengths. He traveled throughout China incorporating unusual, but still practiced, martial arts into his new system. 
     Zhue Yuen and two other famous martial artists named Li Sou and Bai Yu Feng eventually returned to the Siu Lum (Shaolin) Monastery and founded the Five Animals Style. This completed the new Siu Lum (Shaolin) system. Each of the animals: tiger, crane, leopard, dragon and snake, have different qualities. 
     According to Bai Yu Feng, people must develop five aspects of their being to condition the entire body. They are: physical strength, bone development, libido, chi development, and internal spirit. The first two are external training, two are internal training and one is a balance of both. Bai Yu Feng also believed when all five are combined, the result is a far superior martial artist, not just physically but mentally and spiritually. The Five Animal Style was devised to assist in the development of all five categories. 
     Each of the five classical animals corresponds to a particular aspect of training, and each embodies its own strategies related to the natural characteristics of that particular animal. As time went on numerous famous styles were created in the monastery. After the destruction of the Siu Lum (Shaolin) Monastery one monk who escaped, Gee Sin Sim See, became famous for passing on the arts to many people outside the Monastery. There were 5 famous families (Hung, Lau,  Mok, Li and Choy) that continued developing and teaching the arts that Gee Sin Sim See taught them and they were responsible for helping the arts to flourish throughout China and eventually the world. These arts then traveled from China to Okinawa (the beginning of watering down the original styles) and then to Japan and the rest of the Orient. The arts then spread creating the vast array of Martial Arts we now see today.

     Korean Martial Arts use the term subak (a general term for barehanded martial arts imported from China). Historical evidence shows that in 1122 BC a Chinese prince called Chi-tzu established the Choson Dynasty in what is now North Korea. This information does not appear in writing sources until after the Chinese Han Dynasty invaded Korea during the 1st century BC. Most People know that India and China are the birth place of Asian Martial Arts long before Korea was even established as a country. There are those who are currently trying to rewrite history especially some involved in the Korean Martial Arts. This raises many questions regarding their personal gain. They feel they need to make people believe that their style is superior and native to their country and that the Chinese and Japanese inherited their styles from them. That would be like dismissing your father and grandfather so you can take all the credit for your family history. These same people also use exaggerated stories regarding their lineage to make it sound as if one person trained with over a hundred masters (How would one person have the time to learn so much from each teacher when one system could take a decade or more to master). This would go directly against the principle of loyalty.  This would also make their style chop suey (mish mash) and they should then expect their students to lack true loyalty to them and their system. To most people with common sense this would be considered nonsense and untrue. It seems as though the only ones making these claims are those trying to promote their martial arts outside of Korea. Most Korean nationals are keenly aware of how much China influenced their Countries development and martial arts are only one aspect of that influence.

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