As the saying goes, “The Chinese Kungfu impresses the world while Shaolin Kungfu is the origin of Chinese Kungfu”.
The Shaolin Kungfu originated in the ancient Songshan Shaolin Temple. It is said that the Indian Dignitary Bodhidharma, who taught Zen sect of Buddhism in Songshan Shaolin Temple in the year 527 in Northern Wei Dynasty, created a body exercise named “Huoshenfa” on the basis of daily activities of Chinese ancient laborers to stretch the body, get rid of the tiredness out of long time of sitting and thinking, fight against beasts in the forest and protect the temple. In his spare time, he practiced some movements to strengthen the body and protect himself against theft with chains, sticks, staves and swords, later called “Tamo Chains”, “Tamo Staves” and “Tamo swords”. Thereafter, he learned from the flight of birds and jump of animals, etc, to develop the “Huoshenfa” into a set of exercises named Luohanshou, combining movements with quietness.
This set of body exercises developed into a martial art of over 100 kinds with generations of improvement, generally called “Shaolinquan” in martial art. Since the South and North Dynasties, the growing requirements of the society made the Shaolin martial art develop towards consummate fighting skills. Monk soldiers were organized to begin the training strictly, starting every morning at dawn, whether in steaming summer or in freezing winter, continuing their practice.
Shaolin Martial Art has been enjoying great fame since the Sui Dynasty and the Tang Dynasty. Zhao Kuangyin, the first emperor of the Song Dynasty, was a fan of martial art. He created some new martial art and kept them in his works which was preserved in the Shaolin Temple. Till the end of the Jin Dynasty and the beginning of the Yuan Dynasty, Shaolinquan had made great progress. Great masters of Shaolinquan such as Bai Yufeng, Jueyuan, Li Sou and others devoted themselves to Shaolinquan and paid much attention to its collection and spreading. They developed the “Luohan Shiba Shou”, that is, the Eighteen Martial Skills, into seventy-two, later one hundred and seventy three skills. In the period of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms, Dignitary Fu Ju invited famous martial art masters of 28 schools to Shaolin Temple to practice and teach martial art for two years.
Since the Ming Dynasty and the Qing Dynasty, it had been very popular among visitors of Shaolin Temple to watch martial art shows as the climax ending of the tour to this ancient temple.