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Shao Lin Kung-Fu Exponents Twenty years Ago PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 06 June 2007
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Shao Lin Kung-Fu Exponents Twenty years Ago
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Shao Lin Kung-Fu Exponents Twenty years Ago
    The Origin of Shao Lin Quan
    In these two years, a few overseas Kung-fu masters and scholars working in the field of Chinese traditional culture, have confronted me with questions about Chinese Kung-fu, "What on earth is Shao Lin Kung-fu all about?" "Is Shao Lin Kung-fu Chinese, or was it imported by foreigners?" "There is a saying, 'all Kung-fu schools are rooted in Shao Lin', but does that mean Chinese Kung-fu was rather poor before the founding of Shao Lin Monastery?" "Were all Chinese Kung-fu including Quans and Weapons very weak before Tang Dynasty?" People have got some doubts about, such as, the definition of Shao Lin, how come all famous Kung-fu styles originated from a place for religious worship, and whether Chinese Kung-fu was brought in from India...
    These are serious questions related to academic realm and historical perspectives, frequently asked by Chinese living aboard and foreign friends. In the past two decades, Wushu had been reviving in China, and especially in these recent ten years, but a lot of people have been turning it into a business. Many murky phenomena emerge afterwards causing the questions and doubts to multiply.
     What does Shao Lin Quan Kung-fu include? Who were the creators? Which Kung-fu styles we see today belong to the school and which are derived from it? These are all big topics worthy of in-depth exploration. But there are two things we can be sure of.
     Number one, "Shao Lin Quan Kung-fu" is a general term for the various traditional Kung-fu that arose and grew in the central part of China through thousands of years, Number two, it had been Chinese people creating Chinese traditional Kung-fu. From fighting experience in thousands of years of ancient warfare, they developed armed and unarmed combat arts, and came up with countless methods boosting some huge strength during they practiced Kung-fu for their lives. Shao Lin Quan Kung-fu is a Chinese creation
    Shao Lin Kung-fu Exponents Twenty Year Ago
     The Shao Lin Kung-fu exponents in Mainland China before 1980s were those who loved Chinese traditional culture and traditional martial arts and got being Chinese Kung-fu practitioners. Like lovers of other forms of Chinese traditional culture and arts, these people are natural successors of the Chinese traditional culture. In fact, there are millions of people in different historical periods inheriting and enhancing various forms of traditional culture, arts and skills in the continuous course of struggle and living. Without them, the traditional culture embodying the characteristics of Chinese nation could never last long fill now. At that time, most of the lovers of Chinese Kung-fu encouraged themselves to take some military spirits. They practiced Kung-fu for mastery of the techniques or took it as an exercise for bodily fitness, but few of them regarded it as a means of living. There were many people who practiced Chinese Kung-fu diligently inheriting the techniques passed down from their predecessors. In the martial art circle in the past, there went a saying, "In summer keep exercising during the hottest days, in winter do the same thing during the coldest weather". I did see some Kung-fu exponents who practice Kung-fu to that extent.
     In different places of Henan Province, there were quite a few people who assiduously looked for masters to learn Chinese Kung-fu in modem times. Shi Degen was one of the Shao Lin bonzes learning boxing in Shao Lin Temple during the time period under the Republic of China (1912-1949). His master Wu Shanlin was from outside Shao Lin Temple. According to Yang Guiwu, Shi Degen' s eldest disciple, Shi Degen was the only disciple of Wu Shan Lin. He was also the only Shao Lin Kung-fu bonze in Dengfeng County of Henan Province in modem times according to the record there.
     Recently, I went to such places as Zhengzhou and Dengfeng in Henan Province again and had a visit to Shi Degen' s three formal disciples, Yang Guiwu, Chen Qiuju and Zhu Tianxi, knowing much about the lovers and exponents of Chinese traditional martial arts who were lucky enough to learn Shao Lin Quan from Shi Degen during the period from 1950s to 1970s.
    A Visit to Shi Degen’s Eldest Disciple, Yang Guiwu
     I met Yang Guiwu on the spiraling path behind the Shao Lin Temple to Luoyang in the mountain. Already in seventies that year, Mr. Yang looked benign, simple and honest. He pulsed some patients and cures diseases for the fellow villagers spending most of his time. Sometimes he might extend his arms and legs and teaching had been younger generations some routines to pass down Shao Lin Kung-fu.
     I asked Mr. Yang how he learned Kung-fu from Shi Degen in those past years, he told me, Shi Degen lived in Guan Di Temple in the mountain behind Shao Lin Temple at that time. When he returned home from the Shao Lin Temple, he surely passed by Yang Guiwu's house. Yang Guiwu's forefathers ever ran a drug store being a rich family in that locality. His grandfather was a teacher and shored up the drug store. He had a good relationship with Shi Degen so Shi Degen often took a rest in the drug store when he passed by. Yang Guiwu was young and weak then. His grandfather knew Shi Degen had practiced Kung-fu for some years though not so old and was good at it. He asked Yang Guiwu to learn Kung-fu from Shi Degen to improve his health. So he became Shi Degen's earliest formal disciple when he was fourteen. From then on, Shi Degen often imparted Shao Lin Kung-fu to him on his way home until 1970. Yang Guiwu learned many boxing routines and weapons in Shao Lin Kung-fu such as Luo Han Quan, etc.
     Later, Yang Guiwu worked in a working unit until he retired in 1983. He was once seriously ill in 1989. Fortunately, his strong physique created to his long time practice of Kung-fu had enabled him to recover from the disease.
     In the early years of 1980s, the film Shao Lin Temple and China's opening-up as well as its reform policy had contributed to the release of the military spirit from the bottom of the hearts of general public. The military spirit, which had been buried for many years, quickly spread up all over the country. Martial arts schools were set up one after one in Dengfeng County. The founders who only knew little about Shaolin Kung-fu were urgently looking for some masters and mentors everywhere. They also renched to Yang Guiwu and then Mr. Yang had given them some suggestions politely.
    When Zhu Tianxi and I visited Yang Guiwu, he became very delighted. The two fellow disciples recollected the routines Master Shi Degen taught them and practiced Kung-fu together once more. That is why readers can see the photos taken when they talked about boxing.


Last Updated ( Friday, 08 June 2007 )
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