Kung fu

Doctrines and rituals

The martial art of kung fu traces its roots back to the Buddhist Shaolin monastery in the Chinese province of Henan. According to legend, the Indian monk Bodhidharma lived there in the sixth century where he not only established Chan Buddhism (Jap. Zen) but also this type of martial art. As a balance to the long hours of motionless meditation exercises – an important part of Chan Buddhism – Bodhidharma introduced physical training, which gradually developed into what we now know as Shaolin kung fu. Bringing body and mind into harmony is important in kung fu, which is still taught and practised in the Shaolin monastery. However, the sport gained popularity above all through the many Asian kung fu movies shown in cinemas throughout the world.