China has had a long tradition of developing fighting styles; many believe that most of the fighting systems today stem from the teachings of Bodhidharma (Ta Mo). The historical details cannot be precise on when he made his pilgrimage to the Shaolin Temple, but it was probably around the 6th century, where he taught a series of exercises to the monks there, that would today be the basis of modern day Kung Fu.
The Orginal Chinese Martial Arts
Through the examination of records that have survived, it is evident that Emperor Hunag Ti was proficient and in a basic fighting system called Chiou Ti, that finds it’s roots around 2,674 BCE. This system eventually evolved into Shuai Chiao, which resembles modern Judo with its quick throws, joint locks and manipulation, which also incorporates elbow and knees strikes like Muay Tai.
These early systems were implemented to improve the fighting skills of soldiers who spent most of their lives in the Chinese army. Those surviving their service retired and usually found their way to a monastery where they continued training their techniques to remain healthy. Confucius stated, around 600 BC, that the martial arts should be incorporated in everyday life and his peer Lao Tzu, concieved a philosophical system call Taoism. Through out the ages these teachings of both men were handed down and have become interlaced within the martial arts of China and spread later onto neighboring countries. While this can be looked upon as the predecessor of Chinese martial arts, for the most part, modern day kung fu’s seed was planted by a Buddhist monk from India known as Bodhidharma (or Ta Mo), who arrived at the Shaolin Monastery around 527 BCE. (to be continued)