shaolin monks

Get ready for a short martial arts history lesson that encompasses China, Okinawa, the Southern Shaolin Temple and, just possibly, the style of self-defense you practice!

In the latter part of the 19th century, when the Ming revolutionaries were still active and many secret societies had been formed, an Okinawan named Kanryo Higashionna (1853-1915) arrived in Fuzhou. He eventually found a martial arts teacher named Ryuryuko (Chinese: Xie Zhongxiang, 1852-1930), who taught at his house and claimed to have studied at a temple in the Fujian mountains. After spending a number of years in China, Higashionna returned to Okinawa and founded the naha-te tradition.

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What you see in movies about Shaolin Temple kung fu isn't always true. Get the scoop from a martial artist who's made annual training trips to Shaolin for 17 years.

During my annual visits to Henan, China, the head abbot of Shaolin Temple instructs one of the older monks to teach me what he thinks I need to know about the famed monastery and its style of kung fu. After 17 years of such treatment, I’ve been “enlightened” on a number of popular beliefs that Western martial artists hold. I offer the following to set the record straight.

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Explore 1,500-year-old techniques from the Shaolin chuan fa system as 10th-degree kempo black belt Steve DeMasco shows you lethal moves practiced by monks at the fabled Shaolin Temple in China!

Steve DeMasco — author of the book An American's Journey to the Shaolin Temple — has been studying martial arts for more than three decades. During that time, he's ascended to the rank of 10th-degree black belt in Shaolin kempo and has become an honorary ambassador to the Shaolin Temple in China. The self-defense moves expert is also the recipient of the the John Stanford Education Heroes Award from President Bill Clinton and the former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, as well as the Director’s Award from former U.S. FBI Director Louis Freeh. In this exclusive excerpt from the Shaolin training DVD series titled Shaolin Chuan Fa, Steve DeMasco demonstrates a set of self-defense moves to take down an opponent who's attempting a strike.

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Shaolin kung fu master Steve DeMasco brings you self-defense secrets straight from Shaolin Temple in this exclusive article. Learn how to take down an opponent, execute a neck break, counter a full-nelson attack and how to escape a mount!

When Western martial artists think of Shaolin Temple, the image they conjure up usually involves a bunch of bald Chinese monks bowing to a bronze statue of the Buddha and sweeping stone floors in the halls of their famous monastery. In their off hours, we imagine, they perform rigorous routines, play with exotic weapons and imitate animal movements as a way of practicing the ancient art of kung fu. And that’s fine. There is, however, another side to Shaolin training, one that the public seldom sees. It's been concealed for centuries — from tourists, from visiting Chinese martial artists and even from the run-of-the-mill monk. I came into contact with this other aspect of Shaolin training because of my connections with the abbot of the temple, who made me its cultural ambassador to America in 1999. What is this other side to Shaolin training? It doesn’t have a proper name, but I refer to it as “lethal Shaolin.” It’s the subset of kung fu techniques that can be categorized as pure self-defense moves. It’s always been my contention that if more people had access to these self-defense moves, Shaolin training would be huge because it’s one of the most effective self-defense subsystems on the planet. Currently, this aspect of Shaolin training is taught in depth only to high-level monks — men who can be trusted not to misuse the knowledge.

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