9/22/2011 8:10pm, #21
- Join Date
- Apr 2011
- Stabbing the Face.
9/22/2011 9:42pm, #22
Gene's point in his original article is that so many people have claimed "Shaolin" the term has really lost its meaning..."Shaolin" might mean someone learned Shaolin quan from a legitimate teacher, or it might mean they were an ordained priest who spent time at the temple simply practicing Buddhism (and maybe kung fu). Or, it might just mean they are full of ****.
The pop culture view of Shaolin being very secretive of their arts doesn't really fit with the historical record, which shows that by 1900 or so, Shaolin arts had been pimped all over China. Generations of lay students learned the temple arts and went on to build martial arts schools in the nearby vicinity, so that today the Shaolin Temple itself is a kind of cultural/commercial showpiece in the middle of a big nexus of MA schools many of which claim some association with the Temple (maybe legit, maybe not).
In the US, the situation is ever worse because anyone and everyone can claim to be "Shaolin" and there is a 99.999% chance are either deluded or outright lying.
Last edited by W. Rabbit; 9/22/2011 10:00pm at .
9/22/2011 11:02pm, #23
Good lord will you stop drinking the Kool-Aide and quit swinging from CMA's nuts? It is not worse in America at all. The frauds actually taught DIRECTLY OUTSIDE THE TEMPLE with impunity. All of whom were going along with theclaim to be "Shaolin"
9/23/2011 7:34am, #24
However, mostly from memory, and again a hefty nod to Tang Hao and Adam Hsu, the story of Shaolin is a lot less glorified.
For the most part it was a welfare temple, taking in refugees and criminals. It was a Buddhist temple first and foremost, and DID NOT TRAIN IN MARTIAL ARTS.
In fact, when General Qi Jiguang compiled his martial training manual by sampling the various prominent MA from around the nation, nowhere did he mention Shaolin, which is a rather significant indicator, considering what some would have you believe about the place.
Martial arts at the temple were brought in by the fleeing soldiers and criminals seeking to evade the law. Once they became monks (unless their crime was acting against the State,) the law could no longer touch them. For this reason much of the temple body consisted of rebels, dissidents, and former military.
<It also helps to keep in mind that Buddhist doctrine advocates non-violence (ahimsa,) right action, right thought. It would have gone against the core of Buddhism to actively break these rules, and engage in acts of striking at another human being. A straight up traditional monk would never pick up a fist or a stick and start swinging at another monk for warmups.>
These are the people who would practice their martial arts and develop them into what I believe (no source for this one, would have to do additional digging, this is just an opinion for now so take it with a hefty grain of salt) the Luohan Quan, and the various staff techniques. Additionally, no weapons were allowed within the temple. Just like you don't bring guns or rifles to church. For this reason, the vast majority of weapon techniques that were developed were mostly staff, since walking sticks were not considered weapons. (Adam Hsu, I believe.)
Now, during the Qing takeover, a lot of prominent martial arts instructors fled South to escape the new government. These are the people who began claiming Shaolin lineage in order to pimp their own brand of Quan. In addition, around this time, a lot of propaganda fiction emerged, classified as Swordman Chronicles. It's pretty much a diverse body of fiction, depicting Shaolin as a symbol for the traditional old values of China (Ming,) playing on the Qing as foreign invaders. (You still see a lot of this crap in Shaw Brother films. This is where the whole Qing vs Shaolin vs Wudang notion originated.) In these fictions, the Shaolin were often depicted as a fighting school, and as having several temple branches which also taught martial arts. This is in large part responsible for the afformentioned MA instructors trying to claim Shaolin heritage to sell their arts to students.
I should also note that around this time period 17-1800s, a lot of similar metaphoric propaganda emerged, praising the old ways and condemning the Qing as foreign invaders. (Douglas Wile) The fact that a number of these fictions and commentary are political propaganda seems to be overlooked, which is a significant problem when recreating a decimated history.
In addition, it was not entirely uncommon for creators of a particular MA to attribute their art to a famous hero or mythical being (another common trend we still see today.) General Yu Fei, Zhang San Feng, even the Perfect Warrior ZhenWu were all claimed as inventors of various arts at some point. In fact, if one were to read a Taoist treatise and claim the original writer as on of their teachers, back then the claim would not have been considered too far fetched (Douglas Wile, I believe.)
With all that in mind, once the Communists raped and decimated Chinese culture, and after it was rebuilt, we are left with a lot of crap and bullshit floating around. This crap was readily picked up by Shaw Brothers during the 70s, and it caught on like wildfire.
The rest, as they say, is history.
9/23/2011 8:43am, #25
Some of what you're saying conflicts with Shahar's research, so I'd like to see what sources you've read so I can compare. Remember, I am under no illusions that that Shaolin temple was anything like the Shaw Brother films, etc or that it was a martial arts training center. I base anything I trust about Shaolin on Professor Shahar's work and a small number of others, which is why your sources interest me. I am familiar with Wile as he is sourced throughout Shahar.
First, on General Qi,
He surveyed 16 different sparring methods and created a synthesis of the best 32 postures/techniques and recoded that in his classic Essentials of the Hand Combat Classic.
But in 1584, he removed Essentials of the Hand Combat Classic from New Treatise on Military Efficiency, leaving little trace of the origins of certain hand exercises because, as he is quoted in Shahar,"Bare handed techniques seem irrelevant to the art of mass warfare".
Now, hand methods aside, Shaolin staff methods are indeed recorded in Qi Jiguang's New Treatise on Military Efficiency (1562), where the general claims Shaolin staff is one of his favorite fighting techniques (Shahar 63-64).
According to Shahar the Buddhist history of the temple and the military history (ie the records of fighting monks) are very different for a reason. As Buddhists, the temple did its best to preserve the perception that they were nonviolent, did not eat meat, etc. So the religious history of the temple is that of a nonviolent sect. But, that history as peace-loving Buddhists is largely a lie (or religious propaganda, if you prefer).
The historical and archaeological record in the form of government archives, epigraphs, steles, and so forth indicate that Shaolin monks were often conscripted to fight on the battlefield and serve as generals, largely due to their fame staff techniques, mostly during Tang and Ming.
Last edited by W. Rabbit; 9/23/2011 8:55am at .
9/23/2011 8:50am, #26
9/23/2011 8:59am, #27
9/23/2011 9:49am, #28
He has some interesting comments and sources. He notes that there is no historical record minus the erected Tang steles from 628-1517 of Shaolin Martial Practice.
Even shahar who is Pro Shaolin and I like as an author because he pokes holes himself says:
The Tang Steles do not allude to Martial Training nor to any specific fighting techniques the monks trained. He suggests three things:
The battle itself proves they fought.
Thee Monks were trained prior to joining the temple (Henning makes this assertion).
The monks fought in the battle with no martial training.
Both authors note that this is the only proof that the Monks engaged in warfare. Neither uses the various destruction of Shaolin as an excuse. Shahar states that Shaolin as a Focal point is a distorted view at best.
They both point out that most sources show no training in poems or songs of the time period. This is also echoed by Henning.
Now again I'm not saying shaolin had no martial arts. This is why I say Shaolin is debatable. I did not say it didn't exist nor did I attack its relevance. Even the guy you like says there is no real proof one way or the other. He also admits there are no "archeological sources" minus the Steles.
The other thing both suggest is that the Monks used a mythological figure to mask their retreat/defeat from the Shaolin temple.
My point basically is that Shaolin isn't progenitor of Martial Arts like everyone claims.
If you try to think about Shaolin culturally instead of a "brand", it's easy to see how regardless of what the actual monks did at the temple(s), their martial arts spread from the temple over centuries and now is part of the cultural history of the immediate region...fathers and sons learning the Monastery art over generations and some of them built schools around that, to the present day.
In the West, however, we got the movie (read: commercial) version first, instead of the cultural version. To really study the value behind Shaolin we have to strip so much baggage away.
Last edited by It is Fake; 9/23/2011 10:14am at .
9/23/2011 10:01am, #29
9/23/2011 10:13am, #30