Yiliquan kung fu information as requested by Arnisador

Matt Stone

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While two articles have already summed up the basic intro to Yiliquan (they can be found here: http://www.cyberkwoon.com/html/styles.php?letter=Y&sortby=title), here is a brief summary -

Yiliquan was formally presented to the public in 1982 by Sifu Phillip Starr. Yili is a synthetic style created through the amalgamation of Shanxi Xingyiquan, Yang Taijiquan, Chang Baguazhang and Baixingquan (a Northern Shaolin derivative style).

The heart of Yili is not its technique, but rather the strategies of their application. Yili has eight forms called "Shapes," which teach eight different methods of footwork and movement against the opponent. Ultimately, the point is to internalize the strategies of the Eight Shapes in order to attain the "Ninth Shape," that of a formless, Shapeless response to physical or non-physical attack.

If you have any questions, Sifu Starr and quite a few of the senior instructors can be contacted at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/yilichuan/.
 

arnisador

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I don't recognize Shanxi Xingyiquan, at least by that transliteration--what is it like?

It has always seemed to me that Chinese martial artists expected to study and practice several systems, including a Tai Chi stylem whereas e.g. karateka expected to study only one style--this system seems to group together much of what might be needed in one package.
 
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Matt Stone

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Shanxi, Shansi, whatever... Pinyin and Wade-Giles are a pain! :sniper:

Yili is pretty comprehensive, but that is due primarily to the lack of reliance on posture naming (like the Three Internals so commonly do) and the universality of application of technique in conjunction with stepping and movement. :samurai:

It is way more common for Chinese styles to have the influence of thousands and thousands of other styles (okay, maybe not thousands... hundreds then! ;)), but it is fairly common in the Japanese/Okinawan arts as well - just not the standardized modern forms. If you look at some arts, you will see that in a manner similar to FMA they seem to mutate every generation or two into something with a new name, some new techniques, but a similar foundation.

But in general, as a semi-historical note, it is very common for many Chinese styles to either require additional training later in a person's "career," or to make prior training mandatory before additional instruction is given... (e.g. Bagua)
 
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disciple

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Originally posted by Yiliquan1

But in general, as a semi-historical note, it is very common for many Chinese styles to either require additional training later in a person's "career," or to make prior training mandatory before additional instruction is given... (e.g. Bagua)

not necessarily...
For example, long time ago a person could go to shaolin temple and learn the complete package of martial arts :D

salute

:asian:
 
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Matt Stone

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For example, long time ago a person could go to shaolin temple and learn the complete package of martial arts

I posted on this kind of fallacy on www.kungfuonline.com quite a while back...

There is this fantasy notion, fueled in part by Hollywood/Hong Kong, that the Shaolin temples were some kind of haven for martial learning, research and development of new fighting methods, a kung fu university of some sort.

Let's apply a little bit of realism to this, shall we? :confused:

Buddhism is, first and foremost, what?
a. religion
b. religion
c. religion
d. martial art

If you guessed "d" you are so incredibly wrong you should start beating yourself with a very heavy (and preferably sharp) object.

Start Rant - :soapbox:

Buddhism is a religion, and one that has as its central core a strong pacifist theme. It strikes me (no pun intended) that a bunch of pacifist monks, sequestering themselves away from the rest of the world in a bid to eliminate the foulness of the non-spiritual world and allow total spiritual purity, would be the last bunch of folks to hang around devising new and interesting methods of separating bad guys from their various body parts...

Am I wrong here?

Now history does show that there was constant traffic into and out of the Shaolin temples by lay persons, frequently those wanted by the government for asssorted crimes. They found sanctuary in the temple, and a degree of anonymity. They also found other boxers. It would be my thinking that, in this crucible of possibility, that many boxers would (in the same fashion as we do here) gather together and share at least some of their techniques and insights with others. This communion would be a very rational explanation to the allegedly legitimate claims so many arts seem to have to some form of lineage with Shaolin as its head.

Then of course, many could just be handing out so much BS...

Bottom line, I think it is fairly safe to say that the Buddhist monks of Shaolin had little to do with boxing as a method of fighting. They had bodyguards to do that work. Same deal in Japan with the monks and the sohei. Would you buy the story that a Catholic priest, or Franciscan friar, would hang out in a church or tabernacle somewhere figuring out how best to injure, maim or kill someone that might accidentally accost him in the local grocery store? Hardly.

It makes for a wonderful fantasy, tales of jumping and bounding martial monks living at Shaolin, training 24/7, as well as finding time to meditate, recite sutras, and receive lectures from senior clergy. But fantasy is all it is. So is running on 4 story high stalks of bamboo while floating in the air and sword-fighting.

End Rant - :soapbox:

As for other arts not necessarily "requiring" study of other systems, I must admit that all I have is conjecture. I have first hand testimony, however, passed down from Sifu to Sifu that in at least the case of Bagua (an art that I study) that Dong Haichuan required potential students to know another art before they were allowed to study Bagua. Failure to have prior experience resulted in a referral to another teacher, and an admonishment to return when they had learned enough for Dong to work with.

In our school, we are not required to study elsewhere. We are strongly encouraged to train elsewhere for no reason other than the insight into our "mother art" that such training provides.

Gambarimasu. :samurai:
 
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Matt Stone

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I don't recognize Shanxi Xingyiquan, at least by that transliteration--what is it like?

Xingyiquan / Xing Yi Quan / Hsing Yi Chuan is a very direct martial art that is based primarily on the theories of the five elements of Chinese cosmology. It is reputed to have been created by General/Field Marshal Yueh Fei, though modern historians question the authenticity of this claim.

Regardless, Xingyi has found its way into regular practice with the army of the PRC, and is traditionally believed to have been a soldier's art (since a General created it).

It is very simple in content, but it could take a lifetime or more to grasp the more subtle intricacies completely.

this system seems to group together much of what might be needed in one package.

What system are you talking about? Yili?
 

arnisador

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Originally posted by Yiliquan1


What system are you talking about? Yili?

Yes. It's been my experience that many kung fu styles either expect you'll be studying something else with or before it--a basic five animals style before and a Tai Chi style in conjunction with your kung fu--and the system you're studying seems to wrap those together, if I understand the pages you cited earlier.

Many styles have in them "trainer forms" in other systems--monkey for footwork, mantis for hand techniques, etc.--to do this work.

As for your comments on the Shaloin temple and boxing, while I see your logic, I am not fully convinced.
 
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Matt Stone

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Yili does have a lot of different forms, all of which teach different skills.

During Baixingquan training there is a form called Sanbaoquan that is very similar in appearance to Wing Chun forms. It teaches extremely close range techniques, the coiling of a hand from one strike into another, using one hand only to block and strike multiple times. Other Baixing forms are for strength, stamina, to develop "drive" (the ability to launch oneself from a point on the ground to a point further away while delivering a strike).

In Xingyiquan training, there are only the Wuxing (the Five Element postures), Lienhuan Wuxing (lit: "Linking the Five Shapes/Elements"), and Shih-er Xingquan (lit: "Twelve Shapes"), though Shih-er Xingquan isn't trained until later.

In Taijiquan training we use the Yang family short form, though the stances have been modified from the way many people train them (though by no means all) to allow for more stability and body action.

In Baguazhang we use the Chang family Bagua set (which is fairly easy to learn and nowhere nearly as complex as some methods of Bagua) and a linear set that practices the Bagua postures on a straight line as opposed to walking the circle.

All along these phases, the Eight Shapes of Yili are being learned and practiced. While we do have many forms to teach, it is expected that a person will naturally gravitate toward some and develop higher skill in those moreso than others. The ultimate goal is to pass beyond the need for forms - they are tools, manuals of techniques. And like college textbooks, when you have absorbed the material the books are no longer needed for your learning. They continue to serve as reference manuals, however, so they are still valuable to go back and "re-read" frequently.

As for the Shaolin thing...

What do monks/priests do? They cloister themselves away from the distractions of the rest of the world so they can focus on their religious pursuits. This is what Shaolin was, right? A Buddhist monatstery?

So along comes Bodhidharma/Da Mo/Daruma. He is an Indian Buddhist monk of great reputation, that allegedly also had training in Yoga and methods of Indian martial combat. When he arrived at Shaolin (as the story goes) he saw the monks were in poor health, lacked physical conditioning, and fell asleep during sermons, lectures and meditation. He felt something needed to be done, and as a visiting VIP he had the clout to make things happen.

So in comes the alleged creation myth of Chinese kung fu.

Perhaps he did teach the monks methods of self-defense. It is much more likely that he taught them yogic methods of fitness and health exercises. But even if the monks did train in fighting techniques, how much time could they really devote to such training? They were there to pursue their religious devotion, not to learn to kick butt. Hours of meditation, prayer, lecture and study do not allow for a whole lot of free time in which to crank out thousands of alleged fighting styles!

There were, however, lay clergy present on the temple grounds. This is a common occurance in nearly every religion that has a tradition of cloistered clergy.

In monastic living, there are the monks proper that see to the daily running of the monastery (administrative things like paying bills, taking in offerings, etc.; growing food; cooking food; cleaning the temple grounds; performing the logistical support for rites and ceremonies; etc.) as well as pursuing their religious devotional requirements (the aforementioned prayer, meditation, sermons and lectures). There are lay persons who provide different services to the cloistered clergy (i.e. handymen, gardeners, administrative assistants, etc.) and some even reside within the monastery grounds.

If you look at the Buddhist traditions in both China and Japan, you find tales of (alleged) monks that were incredible fighters and killed many opponents in combat. But the whole issue of killing is part of the problem, since Buddhism is strictly pacifistic. Buddhists are encouraged to become vegetarians both because such a diet is considered healthier and more conducive to spiritual growth and because by not eating meat you do not take the life of another creature. So who takes care of the defense of the monks and the monastery?

That's where the legend of the "fighting monks" comes in. In Japan, Buddhist temples had "fighting monks" called sohei. They were monks up to a point, but didn't have the same degree of restrictions that the monks proper had. There are tales of sohei being whoring, alcohol swilling fiends. Monks weren't afforded that kind of luxury.

So, I extend that line of thinking, along with the political history of Shaolin as a refuge for fighters who held political views that were less than approved of, and I think it is easy to see that the idea of enrolling in the Shaolin way of life in order to learn 100s of martial arts is absurd. Possible to enter and learn martial arts, yes, but not as a priest. And as far as Shaolin being the origin of martial arts in China (due, I suppose, to the volume of arts titled "Shaolin This" and "Shaolin That," as well as so many others laying claim to a Shaolin lineage) that may well be true, but I suspect it would have more to do with the crosstraining of the "temporary residents" and a possible, though unlikely, residue of that information being left behind when they departed.

Just my theory, anyone can have their own take on the whole thing. I just don't believe the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fantasy of how martial arts in China were once upon a time...

No worries! I don't take offense to folks disagreeing with my ideas... In fact, it is that kind of healthy disagreement that makes me re-evaluate what I think, do and say for errors and inconsistencies. Disagreement, at least for me, spurs growth.

Thanks for helping me grow!:D

:samurai: :tank:
 
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disciple

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So, basically when DaMo came to shaolin, he saw a lot of weak monks, right? And then he created two arts, one for meditation (lost in history) and one for physical (later became the foundation for martial arts). So who else would learn these arts other than the monks? After that, then came along "fighting monks" and others.
As for physical/martial arts before shaolin, I believe there is one art created by a chinese doctor Hua To, that has 5 animal styles, though it is not widely recognized till shaolin came along.
If yiliquan combines several different arts, don't you think there might be other older arts that combine several styles as well?
So according to my "perspective" most chinese martial arts came from shaolin, so when I said you can learn a complete package from shaolin arts, that would include ... well most chinese arts, including Xingyiquan, Taijiquan, Baguazhang and Baixingquan :D

salute

:asian:
 
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Matt Stone

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then he created two arts, one for meditation (lost in history) and one for physical (later became the foundation for martial arts).

I will concede that what Bodhidharma brought from India to Shaolin may well have had an influence on the development of the later combative methods claimed to have originated at the temple...

So who else would learn these arts other than the monks? After that, then came along "fighting monks" and others.

The existence of fighting monk/guardians would, I suspect, predate Bodhidharma - just because they did not receive instruction from him, I doubt they were completely unskilled in the ways of combat. With a hidey-hole full of pacifist monks, they would be a tempting target for criminals of all types, so I suspect that there would have been protectors of some sort present when Bodhidharma showed on the scene...

And since the entire enclave was at least nominally Buddhist, it would seem consistent that they would all be required to ensure they attended their training... a strong body is required to build a strong mind.

However, again, the focus of the monks is to attain enlightenment, spread their doctrine to the laity, meditate, and pray. Not train for combat.

As for physical/martial arts before shaolin, I believe there is one art created by a chinese doctor Hua To, that has 5 animal styles, though it is not widely recognized till shaolin came along.

Again, and I will have to check my references when I get home, I am pretty sure that there were plenty of martial styles around before Shaolin gained any degree of notoriety.

So according to my "perspective" most chinese martial arts came from shaolin, so when I said you can learn a complete package from shaolin arts, that would include ... well most chinese arts, including Xingyiquan, Taijiquan, Baguazhang and Baixingquan

Another minor error. Being Taoist in nature, Taiji and Bagua were taught not at Shaolin, but were products of the Wudang area (at least partially). Perhaps someone did practice them while at Shaolin, but they are not Shaolin arts (although, interestingly enough, Dong Haichuan was a high level Shaolin boxing practitioner prior to his entering into Bagua training...) as far as I am know...

Thank you for helping me grow!

:samurai: :tank:
 
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disciple

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Originally posted by Yiliquan1
I will concede that what Bodhidharma brought from India to Shaolin may well have had an influence on the development of the later combative methods claimed to have originated at the temple...
From my understanding that Da Mo created the two arts when he was in shaolin. He closed himself in a room for about 9 years creating the two arts.

Originally posted by Yiliquan1
However, again, the focus of the monks is to attain enlightenment, spread their doctrine to the laity, meditate, and pray. Not train for combat.
Understood...but as you said monks still need to train to protect themselves from harm.

Originally posted by Yiliquan1
Again, and I will have to check my references when I get home, I am pretty sure that there were plenty of martial styles around before Shaolin gained any degree of notoriety.
As far as I know this Hua To's exercise art was dated back in 1AD so maybe there were other arts before that but unfortunately were not recorded yet

Originally posted by Yiliquan1
Another minor error. Being Taoist in nature, Taiji and Bagua were taught not at Shaolin, but were products of the Wudang area (at least partially). Perhaps someone did practice them while at Shaolin, but they are not Shaolin arts (although, interestingly enough, Dong Haichuan was a high level Shaolin boxing practitioner prior to his entering into Bagua training...) as far as I am know...
Yes indeed, tai chi was not created at shaolin but wudang... although as far as I know the creator of tai chi learned martial arts at shaolin before he created tai chi...the same as most of other chinese styles, although not originally from shaolin but still based on shaolin arts. And I am not familiar with Dong Haichuan so I can't comment on that :D

Originally posted by Yiliquan1
Thank you for helping me grow!
Same here... ;)

salute

:asian:
 
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disciple

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I think we are way off track from discussing yiliquan :D

BTW, my "fantasy bubble" is still perfectly perfect ;)

salute

:asian:
 
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Matt Stone

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From my understanding that Da Mo created the two arts when he was in shaolin. He closed himself in a room for about 9 years creating the two arts.

From what I have been taught, he secluded himself for 9 years, and came out with the alleged Shaolin boxing, but more importantly the 3 sets of Yi Jin Jing exercises as well as other qigong methods... Isn't history wonderfully incomplete? :D

Understood...but as you said monks still need to train to protect themselves from harm.
That is what the guards are for... Buddhist monks are prohibited by their pacifist views from even participating in their own defense, therefore they would have no need to learn to protect themselves...

As far as I know this Hua To's exercise art was dated back in 1AD so maybe there were other arts before that but unfortunately were not recorded yet.

It is quite possible that many things went unrecorded and were then lost in history. Much of Chinese history is fable and myth anyway, and even if details were recorded, who is to tell what form they would take after thousands of years of retelling?

although as far as I know the creator of tai chi learned martial arts at shaolin before he created tai chi... although not originally from shaolin but still based on shaolin arts.

Interesting comment. I assume you mean Chang San-feng when you say "creator of tai chi?" While CSF is credited in most tai chi histories as being the creator of the art, it is also widely considered that CSF was a wholly mythical person. Tai chi sprang from the Chen village, and it is commonly held that Chen tai chi sprang from a blend of the Chen village's indigenous fighting methods as well as some things incorporated into it. Either way, and this is something my teacher has discussed quite a bit with me, it is very interesting to note that in fact most if not all of the tai chi postures can be found in Shaolin boxing styles! Isn't that a hoot!

So you and I have come full circle. We agree to disagree. Ultimately, what history we believe in has little to do with the training itself.

Train hard brother!

:samurai: :tank:
 
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chufeng

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WOW !!!

The real monks didn't know Chinese boxing?


That's ironic, because it was the paradox of an order of pacifists who trained in deadly arts that drew me to Chinese martial arts.

I believed in order to fully understand that paradox, I would need to immerse myself in that discipline...so, are the lessons learned from my journey wasted?

After travelling this long dusty road for awhile I find it completely believable that pacifist monks trained arduously every day...
How can one truly be a pacifist if he really poses no threat to another? To feign weakness, one must first be strong. It is the withholding of lethal force based on a core belief that really defines a true pacifist. Someone who has never trained cannot really say that he/she is a pacifist because when confronted with violence, he/she doesn't "choose" not to respond; he/she "CANNOT" respond...that is not pacifism; that is weakness.

:asian:

chufeng
 
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chufeng

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Now,

:idunno:

Regarding what one can and cannot believe from a historical perspective...

The Chinese have been notorious for rewriting history...
Although they kept excellent records (right up until they got whooped), the winner of any conflict was known to change the record to reflect his view of history.

As recently as the 1960s, China tried to erase its past...
The Cultural Revolution was responsible for the loss of untold treasures in terms of documents, tablets, and artifacts...

If not for the few brave souls who hid some of the artifacts, who knows what would have survived...

Many documents left China prior to that ugly event and serve as our only look back at what China might have been...

The verbal record has truly been embelished and stories of battles long past have grown into feets of supernatural strength and ability...

But, all legend has some foundation in truth...
and so, call me a romantic, I choose to believe that the monks truly were as good as SOME of the stories say.


:asian:

chufeng
 
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Chiduce

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Why not ask Master Zhang Li Peng or Abbot Shi Yan Ming, Shaolin Monk, which has just taken on new desciples in the Shaolin Temple New York! The new Head Abbot Shi Goulin of Shaolin Temple China. Phone # is 718-539-0872/e-mail info@shaolin-overseas.org :asian: Ami Tou Fou! Sincerely, In Humility; Chiduce!
 
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theneuhauser

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okay, i enjoyed the theories about monks with bodyguards, but i dont believe them. kung fu had to begin somewhere, so why not shaolin? the centuries old paintings in the temple clearly show MONKS practicing kung fu together, not just a couple of guys, but the whole temple, nobody is watching or praying in the background, just monks fighting together.
unless these chinese folks had a time machine with some talented painters and sculptors along for the ride, the archaeology tells the tale.
the oldest artifacts that hint to martial arts are of chinese wrestlers. and as for kung fu specifically, its debatable, but the shaolin stuff is among the earliest.
 
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Matt Stone

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okay, i enjoyed the theories about monks with bodyguards, but i dont believe them.

I bet you have trouble believing that the world is round, too... Is denying fact such a big issue for you? It is a fact that Buddhism is a pacifist religion, and monks are forbidden from even raising a hand in their own defense. So somehow, these selfsame monks are also superhuman fighting machines as well?

kung fu had to begin somewhere, so why not shaolin?

Well, you are right, wu shu (if we are going to use Chinese words, let's use the right ones - kung fu just means "skill developed over a long period of time") did have to begin somewhere, but since wu shu predates the founding of Shaolin, it would seem that it didn't start at Shaolin...

the centuries old paintings in the temple clearly show MONKS practicing kung fu together, not just a couple of guys,

You are right. They are practicing wu shu together. Note the absence of bad guys. Just other monks. Looks like they were just exercising together, following Bodhidharma's injunction to maintain healthy, fit bodies the better to house their spiritually oriented minds... And if you were taking sanctuary at the temple, you had to participate and pitch in. You had to take the same vows the rest of the folks took, as long as you remained there, so as not to disrupt the lifestyles of the permanent residents. That would mean dressing like them, eating like them, and maintaining your daily schedule like them... Not too unlike lay persons entering into monasterys in present times for retreats from daily society living.

...but the whole temple, nobody is watching or praying in the background, just monks fighting together.

And that must be proof positive that they did nothing but train to fight. Monks. Wouldn't it be difficult, then, if they spent all their time learning to fight, to do things like pass on their religious teachings? Kind of hard to know them in order to pass them on... And you will note that the gymnastic wu shu that is being taught by the alleged Shaolin monk in New York with his neo-Shaolin temple is also well schooled in Buddhist theology. He must have picked that up on his own time, though... :rolleyes:

Sorry to be so sarcastic, but you are living in a magical fantasy world more fitted to Hollywood than real life. If you follow the mythology of Shaolin as an idealistic guide to what you would like to see happen, then fine. But following it as literal history shows you lack an understanding of how real history has been rewritten and edited by the Chinese for millenia...
 
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theneuhauser

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your post was rather rude. i urge you to continue communications with me and others in the future, however just please be kind enough to leave out references to dream worlds and assumptions about my geophysical theories on the shape of the earth. if you knew a little more about me, you would realize that my world is very round. i have dreams, but they are different from my theories on the history of thousands of years. you seem well read, so i respect your opinion. i still dont believe the theory that monks only used body guards that used their kung fu (wushu whatever).
if you are from japan, then i will give you some cultural slack, however here is the way things are:

if i dont buy your opinion, thats one thing.
if i tell you that you are flat out wrong and i am right, then that is ignorance. you are telling me that the monks of shaolin practiced martial arts all day, but never raised a hand in self defense? be realistic. if you are not open to that possibility, then maybe it is you, sir that is ignorant. open your mind.

i dont claim to know very much about the history of china, i have a university education and i have only a few courses and reading that i can draw from. from where do you get the omniscient gift of undisputable knowledge? i would like to have one of those.

if i can digress now without you being too offended, than i will basically just clarify. if what you say is true, and the chinese have become the great history rewriters that you allude to ( not denying here), then what do we really have to go on except the fact that shaolin was a mecca for the early development of martial arts, and as a result of the permanent residents there, that happened to be monks and martial artists, it was allowed to develop and spread. its not as easy as generalizing that buddhist monks are pacifists and therefore they do not fight. it would be easily justified in the face of danger to their temple.

i agree with you that there are western misconceptions about this "martial history".
just because there are other truths, cannot change what shaolin is to martial arts. which is: immensely influential.

you are probably more qualified to speak on the subject yili1 than am I. and it is not he who barks the loudest that is always right, so i will urge that you help us better understand your standpoint by providing some source material or reference that we can draw from. i admit that paintings and sculptures in an old monastery dont tell us everything.
 
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