Southern Fist, Northern Kick

After seeing the combined advantages of a wide range of styles, a charismatic elder had established the principle to primarily focus on lower body combative techniques, executing a wide range of kicks, avoiding close range combat with swift footwork in the northern temple. On the other hand, the sanctuary in the Fujian province was instructed to concentrate on hand to hand combative techniques such as grappling and boxing. After several years, the plan would bring both temples together in a harmonious unification where both sides could share their particular findings.

In the early Tong Dynasty, Shaolin had already developed a widespread influence in China, extending their reach all over the motherland especially after saving the life, followed by maintaining the kingdom and power of Emperor Lee Shi Mun. As a notion of gratitude, the indebted ruler personally approved and funded the expansion of the two Shaolin Temples, thereby effectively increasing it’s capacity and authority.

Roaming through the sands of time several hundred years later at the end of the Ming era, Shaolin had flourished to over a thousand warrior monks with five appointed elders to accumulate and revise their martial arts into text and illustrations. In face of the Manchu invasion, the warrior monks along with their patriotism were again dispatched to assist the Ming battalions in their retaliation against the invasion. Regrettably, due to Ng Sam Gwui’s betrayal, the opposition effortlessly flooded through the San Hoi Gwan Gate and defeated the Ming soldiers like an unstoppable tidal wave.

Through conquering China, the Ching Dynasty was set in motion with the orders to destroy both Shaolin Temples and forever hunt the caste that once rallied against them. As a result of the Manchu’s relentless determination, all the monks and nuns were forced to banish their burning home and seek refuge in distant provinces, across borders, or even overseas. From here, the extension of martial arts spread all over the Orient ranging from Northern Shaolin to Korea and Japan which later influenced the surge of Taekwondo and Karate. In the lower regions, White Crane, Choy Lay Fut, Praying Mantis, as well as countless other styles descended into the southern provinces.

While the entire echelon of monks and nuns fled all over China, many of the elders and higher ranking characters fled to the province of Canton. For instance, the elder Jee Seen Seem See, created and shaped the lineage of Hun Kun that led to the legendary figures: Wong Fei Hun and Fong Shui Yok. Conversely, the only female elder Ng Mui See Thai created the Wing Chun system and later passed it on to her only student: Yim Wing Chun, spawning the historical roots to Grandmaster Yip Man, the valiant William Cheung, and the legend himself: Bruce Lee.

Excerpts from the book  “Shaolin Grandmasters’
Text: History, Philosophy, and Gung Fu of Shaolin Chan.”
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