Point of Origin?

Oily Dragon

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Where does a movie intro fit in?
Because I posted that in the wrong thread...was supposed to be in the Southern Dragon thread. Oops!

The Southern Dragon style elements are clearly visible in the intro, as well as the other two Immortal animals of Shaolin, Snake and Crane. Not to mention a heck of a lot of Buddhist qigong in between.

If that wasn't obvious to Wing Chun, Five Southern Family, or Five Ancestor students...it should have been.

I know because I train this style extensively, brass rings and all, and I know its history, which is vast and colorful and interconnected between styles across all of Asia. And like with all things that travel the globe, they come back home to re-energize, which is how we got a Damo action figure.
 
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Oily Dragon

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Ever wonder why the largest Japanese painting of Damo, the Great Daruma, actually has him smiling?

Of all the many expressions of his memory, this is the one that makes me laugh the hardest. I think it's an inside joke.

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clfsean

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Because I posted that in the wrong thread...was supposed to be in the Southern Dragon thread. Oops!

The Southern Dragon style elements are clearly visible in the intro, as well as the other two Immortal animals of Shaolin, Snake and Crane. Not to mention a heck of a lot of Buddhist qigong in between.

If that wasn't obvious to Wing Chun, Five Southern Family, or Five Ancestor students...it should have been.

I know because I train this style extensively, brass rings and all, and I know its history, which is vast and colorful and interconnected between styles across all of Asia. And like with all things that travel the globe, they come back home to re-energize, which is how we got a Damo action figure.
It's Gordon Liu ... it's Hung Ga. Multiple parts of multiple sets, pieces and sequences shown as most Shaw Bros movies, especially with the brothers involved.

But ok ...
 

Oily Dragon

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It's Gordon Liu ... it's Hung Ga. Multiple parts of multiple sets, pieces and sequences shown as most Shaw Bros movies, especially with the brothers involved.

But ok ...
I think of it as Hung Ga+.
 
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Oily Dragon

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It's all movie fu to me ... ;)
Here let me put these 10 weighted metal rings on your forearms and have you jump all over the place, it'll be like VR with force feedback.

Crap, internet isn't that good yet. Maybe some day.

Getting back to the actual topic, I think Damo is a great case study to stick with discussing.

He's basically the kung fu Jesus of Shaolin, even though he may never have actually been to Songshan, they sure loved him there. They replaced artwork with his image, replaced Vajrapani's staff with his own. He made such an impression in so many directions, other countries developed entire religions based on his teaching.

I find the fable of him teaching monks to be stronger with Indian or Persian exercise methods fascinating. It's got a very "aliens built the pyramids" vibe, like the Shaolin were all lazy and daydreaming until Bodhidharma came with his mystic arts and magically enlightened the lot.

The actual history is a lot bloodier. The temple's monks were athletically skilled and adept with weapons, so they were conscripted constantly into Imperial service against raiders. That bought them treasure and influence in the Imperial court, which of course burned them centuries later when the dynastic wings shifted.
 

clfsean

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Here let me put these 10 weighted metal rings on your forearms and have you jump all over the place, it'll be like VR with force feedback.

Crap, internet isn't that good yet. Maybe some day.

Getting back to the actual topic, I think Damo is a great case study to stick with discussing.

He's basically the kung fu Jesus of Shaolin, even though he may never have actually been to Songshan, they sure loved him there. They replaced artwork with his image, replaced Vajrapani's staff with his own. He made such an impression in so many directions, other countries developed entire religions based on his teaching.

I find the fable of him teaching monks to be stronger with Indian or Persian exercise methods fascinating. It's got a very "aliens built the pyramids" vibe, like the Shaolin were all lazy and daydreaming until Bodhidharma came with his mystic arts and magically enlightened the lot.

The actual history is a lot bloodier. The temple's monks were athletically skilled and adept with weapons, so they were conscripted constantly into Imperial service against raiders. That bought them treasure and influence in the Imperial court, which of course burned them centuries later when the dynastic wings shifted.
I love working rings. I prefer Muk Yi Pai, but Sek Si, rings, jars, sandbags, etc... all fun to me especially with long arm stuff.

Anybody ever read Meir Shahir's work?
 

Oily Dragon

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I love working rings. I prefer Muk Yi Pai, but Sek Si, rings, jars, sandbags, etc... all fun to me especially with long arm stuff.

Anybody ever read Meir Shahir's work?
His book was great, I read it a while back and use it to fact check a lot of Shaolin tales. The best part about that book is that so much is actually true, even if a lot has been muddied over the years.

Best thing I learned from that book, the true Shaolin staff history, which is just as impressive as it sounds. I never pick up my long weapons anymore, don't feel the need. But my staff is in my hand all day long.

Another guy you should really read is Dr. Benjamin Judkins, visiting scholar at Cornell East Asian Studies program. He basically did for Wing Chun what Shahar did for Shaolin.

1642714898710.png
 

Damien

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Here let me put these 10 weighted metal rings on your forearms and have you jump all over the place, it'll be like VR with force feedback.

Crap, internet isn't that good yet. Maybe some day.

Getting back to the actual topic, I think Damo is a great case study to stick with discussing.

He's basically the kung fu Jesus of Shaolin, even though he may never have actually been to Songshan, they sure loved him there. They replaced artwork with his image, replaced Vajrapani's staff with his own. He made such an impression in so many directions, other countries developed entire religions based on his teaching.

I find the fable of him teaching monks to be stronger with Indian or Persian exercise methods fascinating. It's got a very "aliens built the pyramids" vibe, like the Shaolin were all lazy and daydreaming until Bodhidharma came with his mystic arts and magically enlightened the lot.

The actual history is a lot bloodier. The temple's monks were athletically skilled and adept with weapons, so they were conscripted constantly into Imperial service against raiders. That bought them treasure and influence in the Imperial court, which of course burned them centuries later when the dynastic wings shifted.
The whole spread and development of Buddhism up into northern and eastern Asia is an interesting and, in my opinion at least, slightly bizarre progression. You end up with some very different ideologies emerging in the various Buddhist sects which are a long way from the traditional approach. Tibetan Buddhism is a great example, with a lot of focus on deities which in older traditions were simply seen as more powerful beings, possibly closer to enlightenment but not something to specifically worship.

Then you get things like True Pure Land Buddhism which has the aim of getting to heaven, not the non-existence of enlightenment and teachings such as being kind is more about trying to increase your own sense of worth than benefiting others, and therefore makes it harder to get into heaven.

With the Mahayana tradition and especially it's development in to Chan I can see the reason for the strong emphasis on a great founding figure at Shaolin though. The idea of student and master became a lot more important, with the master being key to helping the student reach enlightenment. Having a great mythical founder adds legitimacy to that continuing line of master to student. An idea which continues to this day in Shaolin as evidenced by their generational structure, where a disciple takes the generation name after their master's. This means you have some people in their teens who are an older generation that people in their 50s. In certain Zen schools the master relationship became so important that students could gain enlightenment via it being directly beamed into their heads.

The more it Buddhism travels from it source, the more mystic it seems to become at which point it loses me somewhat. But perhaps that was to be expected, the open and inclusive nature of the philosophy almost encourages it to mix with local traditions as it spreads.

Shaolin certainly don't shy away from their bloody history though. Things like the Wheel of Life tour, which was one of their first really large scale international cultural forays told the story of monks rescuing the Emperor from bandits using force. The uncovered shoulder in their robes supposedly represents the monk that convinced Bodhidharma to teach them; he had said it would have to snow red snow first, so on a freezing day the monk chopped off his arm and the blood that sprayed out froze.

This history of violence didn't appear fully formed though, it had to emerge at some point and likely post the founding of that particular monastery, since the practice of kung fu is not common elsewhere amongst the Buddhist clergy. This suggests that the monks at the temple went from normal peaceful monks to warrior monks at some point. This likely developed over time as teachings changed, health based practices evolved, and ultimately the need to defend themselves became more relevant.

The warrior monk idea seems to spread with the Chan philosophy since you get warrior monks in Japan not that long after the introduction of Buddhism with a mix of various Mahayana traditions, including Chan. I'm not sure what it is about Chan that might encourage such practices, possibly the idea that anything can me a form of meditation, and you can have meditative practice in movement and daily activities. Is war a form of meditation? Quite possibly it's just a reflection of growth in power and influence which tends to create a desire for protection and further expansion even in religious institutions. The medieval knight chapters such as the Templars are a great parallel.

I don't know if you get the same sort of thing emerging within pre-Mahayana sects. My knowledge of Theravada history pretty much stops with the spread north of Mahayana. Anyone know of any Theravadan warrior monks?
 

Ivan

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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?
For starters, my own readings on the subject led me to believe that Bodhidharma taught the exercises to the monks, not because they were falling asleep, but because of the long hours of studying and hunching over, their bodies were becoming hunched, malformed, weak and painful.

In terms of the origins, animals are more alike in the way they move compared to us than you think. Here is a video showing similarities in combat between humans and animals:
 

Oily Dragon

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In certain Zen schools the master relationship became so important that students could gain enlightenment via it being directly beamed into their heads.
That's where I am. That right there is the heart of the entire Shaolin Chan tradition, and what Bodhidharma spent every year staring at a wall thinking about.

What so special about a flower, compared to a rock? Ha.

勗凝蝚 is the formal Chinese name. 敺 is the funny part.
 
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