Zhang Sanfeng - Legendary Founder of Tai Chi Chuan
Talk the Talk
Walk the Walk
Kung Fu Quote
The Early Life of Zhang Sanfeng
The Development of Mien Chuen
The Legend of Zhang Sanfeng
More Kung Fu History
Kung fu history arguably goes back to the 6th century CE and the term kung fu can be used to describe any Chinese martial art. Though there are many styles, philosophies and techniques, most trace their ancestry to the Shaolin Monastery in Henan which has been instrumental in the development and spread of many fighting systems down the ages, collectively known in the West as kung fu.
Bodhidharma (Ta Mo in Chinese) was an Indian Buddhist monk who is believed to have travelled to China in the sixth century. So the legend goes, while there he visited the Shaolin Monastery and taught the monks there a set of yogic exercises to improve their overall health. Over time, these exercises would evolve into martial arts, or more specifically, into Shaolin kung fu.
A look at how the the history of Shaolin Kung Fu expanded and grew between 527 and 1644. It is believed that many styles of Chinese martial arts have their origins in this period, which also saw the spread of the teachings of the Shaolin monks to temples in other regions.
The history of the Shaolin in the modern era has not been an easy one. The practice of Chinese martial arts was banned for much of the period and the monks considered enemies of the state because of their political ideologies and later their religious beliefs.
Pak Mei was one of the famous Five Elders of Shaolin kung fu who developed the fighting system that would take his name. The system is a lethal combination of fighting techniques that combine the explosive power of the tiger with the dynamic speed of the leopard.
According to legend, after the burning of the Shaolin Temple in the 17th century one of the surviving Five Elders, Ng Mui, taught kung fu to a woman called Yim Ving Tsun. From this union, Ving Tsun (Wing Chun) kung fu was developed and passed down from one generation to the next.