History of Shaolin Kempo

History of Shaolin Kempo

The Shaolin temple was first built around 495 A.D. by Chinese Emperor Hsiso Wen for an Indian monk Batou, or, as known by the Chinese, Fo Tou . It was in the great Shaolin Temple in the Songshan mountains of central China that Buddharama, a sixth century Indian monk, first introduced Buddhism  and a form of meditation methods and fighting techniques. He introduced to the temple monks a form of breathing exercises based upon animal movements, mostly exercises for strengthening and conditioning the body. The reason he taught the monks these exercises was to purify their bodies and develop inner strength.

Then came the movement of the animals which were taught for self defense purposes. Over a time, the monks changed and perfected these movements, gearing them toward fighting. This style became known and feared as the art of Shaolin Temple Boxing. Buddhism and Shaolin Temple Boxing or Shaolin Chuan Fa were  the Shaolin Temple’s main legacy to the world. So it was in China that the philosophical and religious systems upon which many martial arts depend were first  created and nurtured. The teachings of Lao Tzu, Confucius and Buddha were blended with the development of the various Chinese martial art systems which  spread to many other Asian countries.

In the 1600′s, after Japan conquered Okinawa. The people of Okinawa were restricted from using any weapons to prevent retaliation The natives had no  alternative but to practice the art of empty-handed fighting known as Te. This name was derived from the Chinese Tang Dynasty, when many empty-handed  styles of fighting were popular. The Okinawans changed the name of their martial art from Te to Karate, and many styles were developed. Long before the Chinese or the Okinawans practiced or developed their arts, the Tibetans and Mongolians had their own form of combat from which the venerable  art of Chin Na or the art of the White Tiger was further developed – a devastating form of locking, seizing, holding and grappling.  The Tibetans and the Mongols were the masters of the grappling arts.

The art of Shaolin Kempo Karate has developed from numerous styles of the martial arts including Shaolin Temple Boxing, Jiu Jitsu, Kung Fu, Kempo, different styles of Karate, as well as the secret art of the White Tiger (Chin Na). Each fighting system offers something both unique and special, but each also has its weaknesses that make a fighter vulnerable.

Our system stresses four ways of fighting.

1. With your hands (punching, striking – both open and closed handed) or use of any part of the arms, elbows, forearms, etc.

2. Kicking (with the foot, knee or leg).

3. Felling – that is to knock an opponent off his feet by throwing, tripping, pulling, pushing, shoving or scooping him.

4. Grappling – the secret of grappling is to always have control of your opponent by either wrestling, holding, breaking or locking bones or joints against nerve  centers, thereby directing your opponent by delivering excruciating and incapacitating pain. Remember, the ultimate in self defense lay not in one way or style of fighting, but by combining the Four Ways of Fighting. The integration of these methods of fighting into one – thereby eliminating any and all weaknesses and vulnerabilities – is the CORE, THEORY and METHOD behind our devastating and impregnable art of Shaolin Kempo Karate.

The Shaolin fighting system is the backbone of our system as it is the best for promoting overall good health and longevity. The system is very well balanced, incorporating the mind, body, and spirit into one. It is a system that promotes health and wisdom

On the fighting side, Shaolin is renowned for its awesome  and devastating kicking and punching techniques. It is the only system that incorporates the movements of the five animals: Tiger, Crane, Dragon, Snake and  Leopard. The Shaolin theory of fighting is based upon circular movements, speed, conditioning and the development of strong internal energy, tendons and ligaments This is the essence for producing a superior fighter. (For more information on the Animals, please Click Here)

Karate is simple and quick to both learn and execute. It is known for its linear and angular movements with quick shuffles and in-line fighting movements. Karate type blows are more mechanical in execution than Shaolin. They are also more explosive. Karate concentrates more on the external and fewer moves are required to get the job done. The art of Kempo is a mixture of both hard and soft movements that blend nicely, but is not sophisticated enough by itself. Kempo lacks the grace of  Shaolin with its integrated leg maneuvers, the quick shuffles and footwork of Karate, and the explosion of hard Karate.

Shaolin movements are more fluent than either Kempo or Karate and consists of more patterns of multiple strikes. The weakness here is that there are too many  wasted movements which create openings for counter-attack. Karate, on the other hand, has too few movements and is too rigid to stand alone. Shaolin takes longer to master than Karate, but, once mastered, your blows are delivered more effectively because Shaolin is a balance of the body’s external strength and the internal power found within. Each system offers something to compliment the other by combining the circular and linear movements together; the end result is far superior to either  alone. Our Shaolin Kempo Karate system teaches the twelve branches of Shaolin that were originally taught in the Shaolin Temples of China. These branches include:

The venerable art of Chin Na (White Tiger); the ultimate form of controlling your opponent by holding, seizing, locking, throwing, felling and delivering pain that can be controlled. No other art can have such control over an attacker.

The Immortal Monkey, known for its art of illusion. It cannot be hit. Its movements are lightning quick and it can change direction rapidly. It never exhausts its energy and the monkey is always happy! The art of the Tiger with its character ferocity and strength.

The Tiger fears nothing and, thus, is feared by all. The Leopard is another important branch of Shaolin  because it is the fastest of all the animals in the system and it is through speed that the Leopard is able to generate tremendous power.

The branch of the Crane teaches centeredness, balance and grace within our movement and disposition; these are the markings of a truly great fighter.

The Eagle branch of Shaolin is also graceful in its technique, but the Eagle differs from the Crane in that  the Eagle is a bird of prey. Once held by an Eagle’s powerful grip, its opponent is usually rendered helpless. The Snake branch of Shaolin, including the boa and the python, emphasizes flexibility and precision.

The Snake doesn’t have the power of the Tiger or the Leopard so it must target specific points of the body to  administer it’s attack, the result is usually deadly.

Another branch of Shaolin relates to insects, wherein are taught the movements of the praying mantis, scorpion, centipede and others.

The Dragon, however, is the most indomitable of all the animals in the Shaolin system. The Dragon is the spirit of Shaolin It cannot be defined. It utilizes the movements and traits of all the animals, continually adapting to meet the needs of any situation. The Dragon’s will to survive and overcome is what separates it from all the other animals.

Weaponry is yet another branch of Shaolin and, within Shaolin Kempo Karate system, all traditional and modern weapons are studied in both offensive and defensive modes. The two remaining branches of Shaolin concern the internal aspects of the art ( chi kung or qi gong) and the more metaphysical  side ( the philosophical and spiritual branch), both of which focus on the relationship of the body, mind and spirit to each other and to the world.

Apart from the Twelve Branches of Shaolin, our Shaolin Kempo Karate system also teaches the Eleven Hands of Buddha. The “Eleven Hands” are a way of defending  by blocking, trapping, and deflecting any attack, countering by delivering many hidden hand techniques. It can be used both offensively and defensively with the use of cutting, deflecting, monkey, pressing, dragon, scissors, upholding, trapping, pushing and pulling hands – once the Eleven hands of Buddha is mastered, it is  impossible to defend against. The Blood Palm and Iron Palm as well as the Poison Finger Techniques of Shaolin (Dotting) are also taught within our system, as are all 108 combinations and moves passed down from the moves of the Shaolin Temple. These movements have been revised for present day applications ( many of these techniques had to be mastered before a monk could graduate the Shaolin Temple).

Lastly, one of the most important criteria which makes our Shaolin Kempo Karate system so unique is that our stances differ from the original stances of Kempo  Karate. Our stances allow us to have more fluency and freedom of movement and are more natural and logical to use. The old stances were suited for people of  a different stature and who fought in a low crouched position. Our fighting stances were developed using the way of the upright position, which has been proven to  be far superior. This is one of the most important distinctions that separate us from other Karate and Kempo systems.