Brief History of Shaolin: Chan (Zen) Buddhism and Chi Gong/Kung Fu
Shaolin Temple was built in 495 A.D. in Wei Dynasty on Mount Songshan in Henan, a northern Chinese province.
says that more than 1,500 years ago, an Indian monk named Bodhidharma
(whom the Chinese call “Damo”) sat meditating before a wall for nine
years on Mount Songshan in northern China. Bodhidharma taught the monks
of Shaolin Temple that meditation lead to enlightenment – that was
called “Chan in China, the same form later known in Japan as Zen.” Both
words are based on the Sanskrit “Dhyana” meaning meditation. The long periods seated meditation however, atrophied the monks’ bodies. To address this issue, Bodhidharma developed a series of calisthenics and meditation that we now recognize as chi gong and kung fu.
Temple is probably the most famous temple in China, not only because of
its long history and its role in Chinese Buddhism, but also because of its
long tradition of Chinese martial arts and “Chan." As the saying goes,
“All martial arts (kung fu) are from Shaolin." Shaolin believe
meditation clears the mind and prepares for purer action. Kung fu and chi gong are expressions of Chan (Zen) and strengthen a weak or sick body, promote
clarity of thought and facilitate meditation.