Shaolin Kungfu—The Unity of Martial Arts and Chan

Publish Date:2021-06-19

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As an integral part of Shaolin Chan Culture, Shaolin Kungfu, a correct approach (the dharma gate of convenience) for the practitioner to cultivate Chan, aims at striking a balance between the mind and body, between mobility and stillness, and through physical motion, the practitioner can improve his or her concentration free of any distractions or obsessions. And in this way, Buddhist wisdom can be manifested through the practice of Shaolin Kungfu. Besides, the two basic cognitive concepts with great wisdom in Buddhism, anitya (impermanence, or incessant changes) and anatman (no self), also fully demonstrated in the changeable movements. Moreover, by controlling body movements, one can grow self-discipline, self-control as well as inner tranquility, which displays the spiritual connotation of Chan at all times. Rectifying one’s psyche in the course of Kungfu exercises requires the practitioner must be at the same time a Chan practitioner. And both Chan Cultivation and Kungfu exercise are serving for taming the heart of mankind.

Shaolin Kungfu lays equal stress on martial arts and virtues, the virtues embodies the basic spirit stated in The Three Branches of Learning, which is to “steer clear of all the possibilities which are to lure him into an evil practice and to strive to do anything that is beneficial to others”. Furthermore, Shaolin Kungfu is a method of internal and external training, and the practitioner can stay focus on the motion and forms of the martial arts, so that he or she is able to sustain the inner peace and stability in the course of exercise, and keeping the focus on the control and mastery of mind in motion is of great importance, which shows the Samadhi of The Three Branches of Learning. Moreover, by taking control of body movements, one’s mind can be contained, tamed and developed. Practicing Shaolin Kungfu has the function of influencing sentiment and purifying mind. Therefore, through high-level concerns for body movements, one can keep calm and seek stillness in movement.

Shaolin Kungfu, as a carrier of the profound wisdom of Buddhism, demonstrates the idea of impermanence and anatman of Three Branches of Learning with its fickle forms, a greater variety of motions and excellent boxing skills. More importantly, the concept of “the unity of gong-fu and Chan” has been affecting the development of Chinese boxing, and laid a solid foundation for its cultural connotation on both the theoretical basis as well as in practices. Besides, practicing Shaolin Kungfu is helping with nurturing your soul and rectifying your heart.

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