Table of contents
The Shaolin Temple
The Shaolin Temple – 少林寺 or “Young Forrest Temple” – is arguably the most famous Buddhist monastery in China. However, it is not famous because the monks meditated better than anyone else, or because they reached higher levels of enlightenment. Instead, Shaolin is world-famous for its Kung Fu.
The legendary Shaolin Warriors were not just monks who liked to fight. They were martial scientists and engineers, philosophers, and artists. They didn’t merely practice Kung Fu, they practically invented it. Most of the famous Kung Fu styles originated at the Shaolin Temple, including the Shaolin Long Fist, Arhat’s 18 Hands, and the famous animal styles of Crane, Tiger, Monkey, Snake, and Mantis.
Although the Shaolin monks are legendary for their physical conditioning and athleticism, it was their warrior mindset that really set them apart. In the Spirit of Shaolin, we will specifically explore five essential elements that were at the heart of these amazing achievements.
The monks of Shaolin mastered an algorithm for successfully learning and synthesizing new skills, then baked it into a daily routine for constant and continual improvement.
Creativity & Innovation
The Shaolin emphasis on creativity and innovation led to the development of a vast number of new Kung Fu styles, some blending older knowledge in new ways, and others that were completely original or inspired by nature.
The very essence of training martial arts within a Buddhist temple — the study of violence where one of the core beliefs is non-violence — is an exercise in problem-solving of the highest order. From questions of survival to the meaning of existence, problem-solving was a Shaolin monk’s greatest skill.
Discipline & Motivation
The unrelenting Kung Fu training, the spiritual study, and the other duties of a Shaolin monk required enormous self-discipline and unique ways of directing human motivation.
Shaolin Warriors were expected to maintain peak physical conditioning but were also required to live in a state of peak mental performance as well.
“Life is wide. limitless – there is no border, no frontier.”
In the Spirit of Shaolin modules, we will explore these five elements, and how they can be applicable to modern life. The ability to learn and master new skills, think creatively, and problem-solve will enhance your Wing Chun training, as well as your career and life in general. Cultivating personal discipline and mastering motivation can amplify your ability to stay in the zone of peak mental performance. If “life is wide, limitless,” then the warrior mindset of Shaolin can help us intensify our experience and grow our potential as human beings.
In these lessons, we’ll look at best practices from modern elite performers along with the many factors and philosophies that shaped the practices of Shaolin. This includes the philosophies and ideas of Chan or Zen Buddhism, the influences of Daoism and Confucianism, and the context of Traditional Chinese Medicine. We will review the writings of Sun Tzu (The Art of War) and Lao Tzu (Tao Te Ching), and study foundational concepts such as Elemental Theory, Yin and Yang, and Chinese Cosmology.
The Spirit of Shaolin modules is completely optional. They are clearly marked and will auto-magically appear contextually right alongside the core Wing Chun curriculum. If for religious or philosophical reasons — or if philosophy just isn’t your thing — you’re welcome to skip right over these modules. For everyone else, prepare to dig deeper into the experience of what it means to be human.