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A BRIEF HISTORY OF KUNG FU

The term Kung Fu is an umbrella term for several hundreds of martial art styles that developed in China over the last 1500 years. Martial arts in China, Japan, Korea, and the island of Okinawa have been influenced by the monks and nuns of the Shaolin Temple. Martial arts was part of the mind-body practice of the monks and nuns, who practiced martial arts to strengthen their bodies in order to allow them to meditate for longer periods and develop their spiritual awareness. Self-defense came as a consequence of their Buddhist practice.

The first Shaolin temple was built in the Hunan province of China in 495 A.D. Around the 5th Century Western A.D., Bodhidharma (or Da Mo in Chinese) traveled to the temple where he was invited to teach Dhyāna Buddhism. Bodhidharma was a former prince of the Indian kshatriya caste and a Buddhist missionary. After reaching the temple, he found that the monks were weak and in a poor state of health. In order to find a way to help the monks gain their vitality and strength, Bodhidharma taught them self-energization techniques and encouraged the practice of meditation. When Bodhidharma eventually departed from the temple, he left behind a manual called the Yì Jīn Jīng (traditional Chinese: 易筋經; literal: “Muscle/Tendon Change Classic”). The manual prescribed a series of exercises, coordinated with specific breathing and mental concentration. Regular practice of the exercises strengthened the muscles and tendons, leading to the development of bodily strength, flexibility, speed, stamina, balance, and body coordination. Bodhidharma’s manual shaped the original Shaolin martial arts profoundly.

The Michigan Shaolin Wugong Temple teaches Yue Chia Quan Kung Fu, a northern shaolin martial art style that developed from the practices of the first Shaolin temple. One misconception about northern shaolin martial art styles is that they are strictly "hard" styles. However, Yue Chia Quan Kung Fu comprises both hard and soft techniques.

Kung Fu is one of the most integral parts of traditional Chinese culture. Shaolin martial arts offered practitioners not only greater physical endurance, flexibility, and fighting skills, they also helped people live happier and less stressful lives. People in Detroit and Madison Heights can join classes for martial arts to learn Yue Chia Quan Kung Fu today.


 

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