Narration of Asia
30 January 2012
The Influence of Buddhism In Chinese Martial Arts
Since first introduced During the Han Dynasty, Buddhism has played a major role in Chinese art and culture. This is especially true in the traditions that surround the art of Shaolin Kung-Fu, and their strong belief in Chan (Zen) Buddhism. Kung-Fu was Influenced by the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama and focuses heavily on the belief that enlightenment is attained through meditation. In this essay, Buddhism's influence on Shaolin Kung-Fu will be discussed, from how it started to how it thrives today in modern china.
Michael Kampan O' Reilly states in Art Beyond the West that Zen Buddhism teaches one can find happiness and success by achieving harmony with nature. They also believe that the Buddha lives inside everyone, and through meditation and discipline is the path to enlightenment (136). The Shaolin temple was established 1500 years ago in Songxian, in Henan Province. It is there that kung-fu first began. Shaolin kung-fu is not only a form of combat or devotion, to many it is a way of life. At the Shaolin temple, Followers are separated into two groups, secular disciples, and martial monks. A Shaolin monk is required to have the best in kung-fu skills but also the strongest Buddhist devotion.
For those who have seen the long daily routines of the secular disciples, and martial monks will notice that its very fluid, and almost like a dance. There is an art in the way they move. In addition to the intense exercise program, meditation, and devotion to Buddhism, Shaolin monks are vegetarians. The simplicity of their food reflecting the simplicity of their lifestyle (Nina Makofsky). Children start training as early as possible at the temple, however there is no age limit to start studying Shaolin kung-fu.
It is said that shortly after Shaolin was founded, a Buddhist monk named Dharma came from India to teach Buddhism. Dharma...