Point of Origin?

Xue Sheng

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For what it's worth, I would never think a Viking berserker would bite his shield while in combat. But I could envision berserkers on one side of a line snarling, gnashing teeth, biting their shield, and doing whatever else to intimidate and demoralize their opponents.

 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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Monkey Turned Wolf

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My guess is that the shield-biting is a kenning that's actual meaning has been lost, as with many kennings. Either that or some then-infamous berserker bit through a shield as a display of strength, and it became a popular way of proving it.

Neither of those guesses have any historical basis, but neither does anything else I've seen regarding that particular issue, so that's what I'm going with.
 

Wing Woo Gar

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For what it's worth, I would never think a Viking berserker would bite his shield while in combat. But I could envision berserkers on one side of a line snarling, gnashing teeth, biting their shield, and doing whatever else to intimidate and demoralize their opponents.
Exactly. However, I may have watched too many movies.
 

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All I really see here is a bunch of people talking a lot but not really saying much about a topic the really know nothing about. This would include myself.
 

Steve

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All I really see here is a bunch of people talking a lot but not really saying much about a topic the really know nothing about. This would include myself.
Nowadays, everybody want to talk like they got something to say, but nothing comes out when they move their lips... just a bunch of gibberish, the mother-fathers act like they forgot about Dre.
 

letsplaygames

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Battle of Stanford Bridge 25 September 1066, three days before Duke William invades/ lands in south of England at Pevensey

Anglo Saxon Harscarls were truly and elite unit (having had to fight two consecutive battles back to back... marching there asses off to get to the south of England after defeating a massive Viking host that invaded the North of England )

One wonders if Duke William would have had a chance if king Harold and his forces were fresh. Or if Harold was defeated... How would have Duke William faired against the Viking Army led by Harold's own brother Tostig and the Viking king Hardrada

Saxon chronicles (yes taken for Wikipedia ... much easier cutting and pasting shrug, heavy sigh... )

The sudden appearance of the English army caught the Norwegians by surprise.[14] The English advance was then delayed by the need to pass through the choke-point presented by the bridge itself. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle has it that a giant Norse axeman (possibly armed with a Dane Axe) blocked the narrow crossing and single-handedly held up the entire English army. The story is that this axeman cut down up to 40 Englishmen and was defeated only when an English soldier floated under the bridge in a half-barrel and thrust his spear through the planks in the bridge, mortally wounding the axeman.[15]

Berserker?


anyway you slice it... cool history!
 

Wing Woo Gar

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Battle of Stanford Bridge 25 September 1066, three days before Duke William invades/ lands in south of England at Pevensey

Anglo Saxon Harscarls were truly and elite unit (having had to fight two consecutive battles back to back... marching there asses off to get to the south of England after defeating a massive Viking host that invaded the North of England )

One wonders if Duke William would have had a chance if king Harold and his forces were fresh. Or if Harold was defeated... How would have Duke William faired against the Viking Army led by Harold's own brother Tostig and the Viking king Hardrada

Saxon chronicles (yes taken for Wikipedia ... much easier cutting and pasting shrug, heavy sigh... )

The sudden appearance of the English army caught the Norwegians by surprise.[14] The English advance was then delayed by the need to pass through the choke-point presented by the bridge itself. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle has it that a giant Norse axeman (possibly armed with a Dane Axe) blocked the narrow crossing and single-handedly held up the entire English army. The story is that this axeman cut down up to 40 Englishmen and was defeated only when an English soldier floated under the bridge in a half-barrel and thrust his spear through the planks in the bridge, mortally wounding the axeman.[15]

Berserker?

anyway you slice it... cool history!
Ha any way you slice it! I see what you did there.
 

Flying Crane

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Battle of Stanford Bridge 25 September 1066, three days before Duke William invades/ lands in south of England at Pevensey

Anglo Saxon Harscarls were truly and elite unit (having had to fight two consecutive battles back to back... marching there asses off to get to the south of England after defeating a massive Viking host that invaded the North of England )

One wonders if Duke William would have had a chance if king Harold and his forces were fresh. Or if Harold was defeated... How would have Duke William faired against the Viking Army led by Harold's own brother Tostig and the Viking king Hardrada

Saxon chronicles (yes taken for Wikipedia ... much easier cutting and pasting shrug, heavy sigh... )

The sudden appearance of the English army caught the Norwegians by surprise.[14] The English advance was then delayed by the need to pass through the choke-point presented by the bridge itself. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle has it that a giant Norse axeman (possibly armed with a Dane Axe) blocked the narrow crossing and single-handedly held up the entire English army. The story is that this axeman cut down up to 40 Englishmen and was defeated only when an English soldier floated under the bridge in a half-barrel and thrust his spear through the planks in the bridge, mortally wounding the axeman.[15]

Berserker?


anyway you slice it... cool history!
The English had no archers in their ranks? Or slingers? Of someone with some Javalins? No missile weapons of any kind?
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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The English had no archers in their ranks? Or slingers? Of someone with some Javalins? No missile weapons of any kind?
You would think so. The translation I typically use for the chronicles says
But there was one of the
Norwegians who withstood the English folk, so that they could not
pass over the bridge, nor complete the victory. An Englishman
aimed at him with a javelin, but it availed nothing. Then came
another under the bridge, who pierced him terribly inwards under
the coat of mail. And Harold, king of the English, then came
over the bridge, followed by his army; and there they made a
great slaughter, both of the Norwegians and of the Flemings. But
Harold let the king's son, Edmund, go home to Norway with all the
ships.

But I've heard this story a couple times, from reputable sources. They state that archers/javelins missed him, likely due to bad weather conditions and placement of the bridge he chose to make his stand on. I don't think I've ready anywhere that the norseman in question was a "berserker", but that would make sense if the term was used, as hypothesied by some, as a term for royal guards.
It's a shame, but most of the written/verifiable sources were from their enemies, so the actual information is limited.
 

letsplaygames

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The English had no archers in their ranks? Or slingers? Of someone with some Javalins? No missile weapons of any kind?
One of my strange hobbies is heavy rattan medieval combat, (SMA, SCA ETC ) & Rebated steel medieval combat (Buthurt, Battle of Nation) etc (rule sets vary, some w/kicking & punching, some no thrusting, but throws are allowed... some if you get knockdown your out, some you can get back up. some are "pas de arms" submission through getting pummeled or thrown. I prefer rattan leagues, it doesn't chew up your armor (your not always armoring)

It gave my Xingyiquan weapons study an outlet to say the least (started Xingyiquan about the same time as the SCA) around 18. Now I'm 55 & kinda getting too old for much of my medieval pursuits, & Covid is keeping me from getting solid helmet time. I'll probably play till I break something that won't heal .. :(

Anyway.. I've been in some of the biggest melees ever reenacted. Over a 1000 per side with defined units, strategies, unit commanders, regional commanders, etc.. You get blood pumping, you're trying to keep you own head, while putting the smack down on the next guy in front of you, the rush, the din of battle....

Communication isn't forth coming.

On the Battle of Stanford bridge
Sound like someone(s) was surprised, maybe the archers were in the back of the formation (hard to move to the front when no one will give way, when that happens it's even harder to form up. What is the time frame we are talking about? **** happens pretty damn fast...
During one grand melee, situated in a pocket between two larger units going at it with units of similar strength, with a pole arm I managed to devastate a household of about 10--12 trying to squeeze through the gap. Like going through a doorway, one at a time... 3/4 of them were had their bells rung before the rest knew I was there.

Just hypothesizing: Out of that 40 reported killed, a large % pumped up on adrenaline, probably rushed him not thinking..... one at a time.. and he probably gave some ground. I've seem pics of where the bridge supposedly was kind of like one peninsula bridged to another.

The Bows they used were of the short variety and I don't know what kind of range they had or power. Or what kind of formations & strength Harold had. I do know Duke William brought with him a units of short bows from Brittany and Anjou and used them to great effect against Harold's units

Spears.... NOT swords, was the king of the battlefield during this era. Isn't that what did the Viking in? A spear thrust from behind and underneath him? The Dane axe was used to render spear shafts useless or defend a shieldman wasn't used offensively in a push that often. You see similar support weapons combinations through history by different cultures and nations.

Swiss and German Two handed swordsmen embedded with pike units (performing similar tactics)
Chinese Ming dao units embedded within Qiang Units
Samurai Nodachi units embedded with Yari units etc

Not sure how you guys got on this topic LOL... I saw someone typed Berserker and the story of Stanford Bridge came to mind.

Peace
 

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Hello Folks! I'm trying to learn the cliff notes of Shaolin Gung Fu and how it came into being. All I know (or have read) is that Bodhidharma traveled from India to China and arrived at the Shaolin Temple where he began teaching meditation to the monks. Because they kept falling asleep during meditation, he developed the first gung fu form ever (I think it was 12 or 13 movements?) for the purpose of those monks becoming strong enough to endure the long and demanding meditation sessions. My knowledge ends there. As I read about all the different forms of Traditional Chinese Gung Fu, I hear of styles based in: the five animals, the five elements, I've read that each posture actually corresponds to the health of a given organ in the body and how that corresponds to... I don't know what. Who would watch two animals fight and deduce from this that therein lies the best fighting system. I don't believe it is that linear and believe there is so much more to it than that. So, where does it all come from? What is the point (or points) or origin? What is the relation between the five animals and the five elements where gung fu is concerned? If any one of us would attempt to devise an effective fighting system based on the way human being seems to fight, one would think a style similar to western boxing might come out. So, the fact that traditional Chinese martial arts are so different from that cause me to deduce that some intricate knowledge (something very different from how we think in the west) serves as its base. I've tried researching this topic but the key details always elude me. Could someone please enlighten me on this subject?
OK a Shaolin practitioner, once upon a time college studier of Buddhism and erstwhile archaeologist weighing in here. Some of the below is conjecture, however, I'm pretty confident that what happened was something like the below. Myth usually has some kernel of truth in there, and when it comes to Shaolin, we aren't actually going back that far, there was writing and records and political systems all of which would have noted many of these things. Such documents may not exist now, but they would have for some time afterwards. The spread of Buddhism for example is pretty well documented and understood.

So, back to the beginning...Martial arts in some form have been around for tens of thousands of years. As soon as our ancestors moved from instinctual attack with hands and feet to being more reasoned we have the beginnings of martial arts. I find it inconceivable that an early hominid didn't look at a stone tool they made for cutting, hunting butchering etc. and think, I could use this on someone else. There is evidence of inter-personal violence very early in our records. If they were teaching technique to create and use tools (which they must have been, each generation wouldn't learn this stuff fresh) and they were fighting, even going to "war" with other groups, then they were certainly teaching the younger generation how to fight. So in this sense martial arts have been around as long as human beings have. Codified practices, manuals, styles etc obviously all come later, but even taking it back to the ancient Greeks is not far enough for its true origins.

Now returning to Shaolin specifically. The story of Bodhidharma is evidentially a myth, however it is a fact that Buddhist practices spread from south Asia into China, and someone or a group of someone's must have bought that with them. Buddhist practices vary between different sects, some emphasising self reflective seated meditation and study of scripture, others less so. The former style would be more akin to Theravada and the later to Chan (what is practiced at Shaolin). Originally however the style that was prevalent in China was Mahayana. The Bodhidharma story is linked to the Shaolin Temple's adoption of Chan which has less focus on study of scripture, less personal enlightenment through seated meditation and a stronger link between master and student. This developed into Zen (similar but different) when it was taken to Japan. There likely was a teacher travelling around teaching this new style (how else would it have emerged), and he may well have come from India, rejecting the conservative tradition of Theravada Buddhism. What does this have to do with martial arts? Well one aspect you see in Shaolin is the idea of moving meditation, i.e. focussing on one's movements and breathing as a way to focus, rather than using breath focus alone of prayer beads in sitting meditation. This combined with the idea that certain movements were good for the health of the body and would help promote a healthy mind too (likely from yoga style practices) is likely the origin of qi gong.

Jumping into the future the Shaolin Temple/Monastery became large, rich and powerful in the local area, as big religious institutions tend to. Within Buddhism one of the duties of the lay people is to look after the monks, although being practical types it's probably fair to say that they likely farmed etc. for themselves too, as is the case with monks in Medieval Christian institutions, and can possibly be seen in certain movement patterns with Shaolin kung fu.

During this time martial arts were practiced in and around the temple (as they were all over the world), but not necessarily in it. The ideas of training for health as well as defence likely permeated here to. There are a number of different concepts in Chinese philosophy that link health, organs, internal energy, movement practice etc.

The Shaolin myths suggest, and we can probably accept that there is some level of historical fact to this, that the temple became the target of bandits. The temple is located in an area that was something of a crossroads in medieval China, with a lot of people travelling through it, so there would be plenty of opportunity for people to be aware of, and to prey upon the temple. Bearing in mind the many religious traditions within China, and indeed the unscrupulousness of some people in general, there is little doubt that some would covet and seek to take some of that wealth. Learning martial arts was a way for the monks to defend themselves and their property. Non attachment to material things is a principle of Buddhism yes, but on an institutional level, preserving the institution for the future benefit of others would be seen as important. They could also help protect their community from in times of need. Just as the community looks after the monks, so they should look after the community.

The monks could therefore have learnt from practitioners in the many villages in the area. With some many people travelling through the area, they likely learnt from travellers that visited the temple too; there would be military expeditions militias etc. moving through the area.

Buddhist monks practicing martial arts is unusual, so word of this likely spread. This in turn probably lead to martial artists deliberately visiting. There are also records of people seeking sanctuary at the temple, such as political exiles from the military, who would also have known various fighting systems (armed and unarmed). This gave the monks the opportunity to learn more styles, creating a location which was something of a melting pot for martial arts. This is why you see so many different styles in Shaolin, and have so many styles claiming to descend from it.

As well as the health element to the variation in style, you have concepts of mass training. As some of the influencers on Shaolin martial arts were from the military, they would have been used to training large groups at once, using predefined sequences of moves. Much of this would have been based around armed combat. In order to facilitate ease of training, some of the same concepts and movements would have been applied to armed and unarmed training. This is why certain movements don't look optimised for hand to hand combat. Combine that with exaggeration for demonstration to large groups (you see this in the changes to Karate stances as it becomes widespread in Japan vs Okinawa), and the northern kung fu style promoting a lot of flexibility and you start to see where the divergence from something like wrestling and boxing come. A classic example is punching from ma bu (horse stance) to yao bu (walking stance, often mislabelled these days as gong bu). The same mechanics are being used as in a boxer's cross, but on a much larger scale. Practicing something large scale is easier to generate power and emphasises range. Perfect for if you are trying to use a spear to punch through armour. As you become more proficient you can learn to generate power on a smaller scale (bringing the rear foot in closer), and it becomes more applicable to hand to hand.

Finally turning to the idea of animals. On this one, I'm less certain, however I expect a lot of it is just made up. I expect there may have been certain amounts of inspiration from the "personality" of different animals, and certain things seen in nature may have sparked the imagination of someone with regards to the use of body mechanics. Beyond that, I think it is marketing. Tiger style sounds cool, doing moves that look like a snake makes your style look interesting, using the power of a dragon sounds mystical. Doing performances in these styles likely promoted the kung fu of certain teachers and made people want to learn it. This may or may not be directly associated with Shaolin, but it certainly appeared there eventually. These days a lot of those animal styles in Shaolin are just for show. Traditional Mantis kung fu for example doesn't have that classic mantis pose and shake most associate with it, its a modern invention to make it look cooler.

Chinese martial arts can be quite poetic in their language to describe movements and concepts, and this likely played into it as well. "Pluck the moon from the sea" is a great example, the moon being the head and the sea your sensitive private parts. You grab one to drop the other.

More recent styles likely took these ideas and ran with them. In some cases no doubt creating genuine applications from imitation movements, but the idea that kung fu originated out of copying animals is just a story in my opinion.

That ended up being a far longer post than I intended, but @Clinton Shaffer, hopefully that answers your questions!
 

letsplaygames

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The story of Bodhi dharma is evidentially a myth,
I still believe he existed... but not in the relevance many think.

I think the dates of his existence and hence his age are skewed. He seems to have existed somewhere around the end of the Northern and Southern Dynasties and the birth of the Sui Dynasty... pretty chaotic era.

Accounts of Bodhi dharma's life have been based until recently on largely hagiographical materials such as the Jingde chuandeng lu written in 1004 AD. However, discovery of the "Dunhuang manuscripts" found in Central Asia at the turn of this
century has led Chinese scholars to question the authenticity of the accounts in Jingde chuandeng lu (certainly the dates within)

The oldest text in which in which Bodhi dharma's name is mentioned is the Luoyang qielan ji, a description of Buddhist monasteries in Luoyang : It written in around 547 by Yang Xuanzhi. Bodhi dharma's name is mentioned is the Luoyang qielan ji,
In Yang Xuanzhi work, a monk called Bodhi dharma from the western regions (possibly Persia) is said to have visited Yongning Monastery.
This monastery was built in 516 and became a military camp after 528. Consequently, Bodhi dharma's visit must have
taken place around 520. (but... that's all that is mentioned about Bodhi dharma's in that text)

Probably the most important source for Bodhi dharma's life was written by Daozuan in 645 AD, called Xu Gaoseng Zhuan, It states that Bodhi dharma was a brahman from southern India. After studying the Buddhist tradition of the Greater Vehicle (Mahyna), Bodhi dharma decided to travel to China in order to spread Mahyna doctrine. Daozuan cites Bodhi dharma's arrived by sea at Nanyue, in the domain of the Liu Sung dynasty and later traveled to Lo-yang, the capital of the Northern Wei. Daoxuan stresses that Bodhi dharma's teaching, known as wall-gazing (biguan), was difficult to understand compared to the more traditional and popular teachings of Sengchou (480560).

Daoxuan concludes by saying that he does not know where Bodhi dharma died. After Daoxuan. historical context gets clouded, Bodhi dharma seems to get placed in history as a founder of the Chen Sec of Buddhism

That's some pretty decent secondary source material... Yes not primary source (actual words written by Bodhi dharma , or written documents of a biographer or chronicler proven to have existed during his time.

Most of the above is paraphrased from the site:

https://terebess.hu/zen/bodhidharma-eng.html

Of particular note is the BIBLIOGRAPHY that the site used
Demi矇ville, Paul. Appendice sur Damoduolo (Dharmatra[ta]).
In Peintures monochromes de Dunhuang (Dunhuang baihua),
edited by Jao Tsong-yi, Pierre Ryckmans, and Paul Demi矇ville.
Paris, 1978. A valuable study of the Sino-Tibetan
tradition that merged Bodhidharma and the Indian translator
Dharmatrata into a single figure, which was subsequently
incorporated into the list of the eighteen legendary disciples
of the Buddha.
Dumoulin, Heinrich. Bodhidharma und die Anf瓣nge des
Ch'an-Buddhismus. Monumenta Nipponica (Tokyo) 7, no.
1 (1951):
6783. A good summary of the first Sino-Japanese
re-examinations of the early Chan tradition.
Sekiguchi Shindai. Daruma no kenkyu. Tokyo, 1967. An important
work, with an abstract in English, on the Chinese hagiographical
tradition concerning Bodhidharma.
Yanagida Seizan. Daruma. Tokyo, 1981. The most recent and authoritative
work on Bodhidharma. It examines the historical
evidence and the development of the legend in Chan (Zen)
and in Japanese popular religion and also provides a convenient
translation in modern Japanese of Bodhidharmas
thought as recorded in the Erru sixing lun.
New Sources
Broughton, Jeffrey L. The Bodhidharma Anthology: The Earliest
Records of Zen. Berkeley, 1999.

Faure, Bernard. Le Trait矇 de Bodhidharma, premi癡re anthologie du
bouddhisme Chan. Aix-en-Provence, 1986
.
Faure, Bernard. Bodhidharma as Textual and Religious Paradigm.
History of Religions 25, no. 3 (1986): 187198.
McRae, John. The Antecedents of Encounter Dialogue in Chinese
Chan Buddhism. In The Kan: Texts and Contexts in
Zen Buddhism, edited by Steven Heine and Dale S. Wright,
pp. 4674. New York, 2000.

Welter, Albert. Mahakasyapas Smile: Silent Transmission and
the Kung-an (Koan) Tradition. In The Kan: Texts and
Contexts in Zen Buddhism, edited by Steven Heine and Dale
S. Wright, pp. 75109. New York, 2000.
check it out for further info
 

Oily Dragon

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1642657957133.png
 

Damien

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I still believe he existed... but not in the relevance many think.

I think the dates of his existence and hence his age are skewed. He seems to have existed somewhere around the end of the Northern and Southern Dynasties and the birth of the Sui Dynasty... pretty chaotic era.

Accounts of Bodhi dharma's life have been based until recently on largely hagiographical materials such as the Jingde chuandeng lu written in 1004 AD. However, discovery of the "Dunhuang manuscripts" found in Central Asia at the turn of this
century has led Chinese scholars to question the authenticity of the accounts in Jingde chuandeng lu (certainly the dates within)

The oldest text in which in which Bodhi dharma's name is mentioned is the Luoyang qielan ji, a description of Buddhist monasteries in Luoyang : It written in around 547 by Yang Xuanzhi. Bodhi dharma's name is mentioned is the Luoyang qielan ji,
In Yang Xuanzhi work, a monk called Bodhi dharma from the western regions (possibly Persia) is said to have visited Yongning Monastery.
This monastery was built in 516 and became a military camp after 528. Consequently, Bodhi dharma's visit must have
taken place around 520. (but... that's all that is mentioned about Bodhi dharma's in that text)

Probably the most important source for Bodhi dharma's life was written by Daozuan in 645 AD, called Xu Gaoseng Zhuan, It states that Bodhi dharma was a brahman from southern India. After studying the Buddhist tradition of the Greater Vehicle (Mahyna), Bodhi dharma decided to travel to China in order to spread Mahyna doctrine. Daozuan cites Bodhi dharma's arrived by sea at Nanyue, in the domain of the Liu Sung dynasty and later traveled to Lo-yang, the capital of the Northern Wei. Daoxuan stresses that Bodhi dharma's teaching, known as wall-gazing (biguan), was difficult to understand compared to the more traditional and popular teachings of Sengchou (480560).

Daoxuan concludes by saying that he does not know where Bodhi dharma died. After Daoxuan. historical context gets clouded, Bodhi dharma seems to get placed in history as a founder of the Chen Sec of Buddhism

That's some pretty decent secondary source material... Yes not primary source (actual words written by Bodhi dharma , or written documents of a biographer or chronicler proven to have existed during his time.

Most of the above is paraphrased from the site:

https://terebess.hu/zen/bodhidharma-eng.html

Of particular note is the BIBLIOGRAPHY that the site used

check it out for further info
I agree, he likely was a genuine historical person who helped spread Buddhism in China. I should have been clearer; by the story of Bodhidharma I meant the whole him coming to Shaolin, saying the monks were rubbish, refusing to teach them until one of them cut off their arm and then sitting in a cave for 8 (?) years bits.

There certainly would have been exchange of ideas amongst the Buddhist community. Whether Bodhidharma himself ever specifically visited the temple, or specifically taught the monks there qi gong we'll never know.
 

Oily Dragon

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I agree, he likely was a genuine historical person who helped spread Buddhism in China. I should have been clearer; by the story of Bodhidharma I meant the whole him coming to Shaolin, saying the monks were rubbish, refusing to teach them until one of them cut off their arm and then sitting in a cave for 8 (?) years bits.

There certainly would have been exchange of ideas amongst the Buddhist community. Whether Bodhidharma himself ever specifically visited the temple, or specifically taught the monks there qi gong we'll never know.
Really?

 
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