Shaolin Kung Fu is taught and practiced mainly by oral and physical instructions and diligent drills, using memorable formula as an aide. To attain a higher Kungfu level is almost entirely dependent on the master’s instruction and practitioners’ insight. In addition, daily Chan practices can maintain the progressive improvement in Kungfu skills. Chan School focuses on practicing in real life so as to achieve the goal of Buddhism. As part of the daily life of the monks, Shaolin Kungfu has been incorporated in the process of practicing Chan. Generally speaking, the course of practicing Shaolin Kungfu follows nine stages:
1) acquainting oneself with Shaolin temple and Kungfu;
2) admiring the spirit and ideal of Shaolin Kungfu;
3) making determination, and setting the goal of studying Shaolin Kungfu;
4) having obsession with Kungfu and rest assured that the goal would be achieved;
5) putting one’s determination into diligent practice;
6) comprehending the whole Kungfu system and its cultural content;
7) transforming the knowledge of Kungfu into Chan belief by incorporating Kungfu practice with Chan cultivation; in this stage, practitioner will integrate the application of Kungfu as one Dharma gate into Chan School;
8) focusing on spiritual development; in this stage, based on one’s Chan belief, Kungfu practice has become an effective approach of cultivating Buddhism, rather than an aim;
9) gaining an insight into human nature and contemplating the essence of Buddhism.
According to Chan doctrines, the nature of all phenomena is impermanence; one shall develop a mind of purification and non-attachment to eliminate afflictions and bring out enlightenment. By applying the Chan belief to Shaolin monk’s practice, Shaolin Kungfu reaches such a high level that no other Chinese martial arts could match, and boasts a distinctive feature of spiritual charm.