How Tall Should Be A 3 Year Old Asian Boy Shaolin Temple: Dawn of Zen and Kung Fu

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Shaolin Temple: Dawn of Zen and Kung Fu

Shaolin Temple in Henan province, China is famous worldwide for its peaceful-looking monks who perform incredible kung fu stunts.

For a long time, I have been fascinated by the martial arts skills of Shaolin monks. How are these monks able to achieve such amazing feats?

The answer lies in Zen. Zen is the wisdom behind Shaolin and it is what makes Shaolin Kung Fu unique and powerful. In fact, the 1,500-year-old Shaolin Temple is the cradle of Zen and Kung Fu.

Zen is short for Zen Buddhism and is the Japanese translation of the Chinese word Chan. Chan itself is adapted from the Sanskrit word Dhyana which means “meditation”.

So, how did Chan Buddhism and Kung Fu come about at Shaolin Temple?

In the legends of Shaolin, one figure towers over all others – Damo. It was Damo who introduced Zen and kung Fu to Shaolin.

The story goes that about 1,500 years ago, an Indian monk by the name Bodhidharma – or Damo as the Chinese call him – arrived on the Southern shores of China in today’s Gaungzhou.

Passing through Nanjing, and crossing the Yangtze River, Damo walked in the northerly direction until he reached Shaolin Temple. He told the Buddha’s teachings to the Shaolin monks, but he was shown the door.

Damo retreated to a cave in the mountains overlooking Shaolin. There he sat facing a huge rock and meditated so intensely that his image was etched onto it! After nine years, the Shaolin monks decided that Damo made sense after all and invited him back to the temple as their chief.

What did Damo do in these nine years? He founded a Chinese style of Buddhism called Chan (Zen). In Chan, everything a person does is meditation if the person’s mind is one with the task, be it washing dishes, chopping wood, sitting quietly or training in martial arts.

Damo invented a self-defense art called Eighteen Lohan Hands based on the movements of animals he saw in the mountains. This he taught the Shaolin monks so they could protect themselves from wild animals and bandits.

He also created Yijinjing or Muscle-Tendon Change Classic, a series of yoga-like movements to develop qi flow so the monks had more energy to practice Zen.

Damo believed that physical training toughened the body and thus allowed the mind to grow stronger. A strong mind could then control a powerful body in motion.

An excerpt from the fully illustrated children’s book “Shaolin – Legends of Zen and Kung Fu” (0-9733492-3-9) by Kah Joon Liow, 32 pages, includes original 3D-animated story “Enter The Zen” on DVD, published by SilkRoad Networks (Canada), Sept 2006, US$26.95, With the participation of MDA. Copyright 2006, SilkRoad Networks Inc and MDA.

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