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Shaolin Temple

Shaolin Temple, located in Songshan Mountains and about 50 miles southwest of the capital city Zhengzhou, is the famous cradle of the Chinese martial arts "kung-fu" and the most important Buddhist shrines as well.
Built in 495 AD, the temple was originally designed to house Batuo, a celebrated Indian monk, who, after many years of spreading Buddhism, was later known as Fo Tuo, or Grand Monk. In the year 537, another famous Indian monk, Boddhidharma, settled in the temple, and created a sort of primitive

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bare-hand combat routine called "xingyi boxing" after he had sat meditating in a cave for nine years. That started the kung-fu tradition at the temple. At the beginning of the seventh century, a group of 13 Shaolin monks were reputed to have saved the future Tang dynasty emperor Li Shimin, by defeating an entire division of the ruling Sui Dynasty's army and helping him break out of prison. When he took power, Li showered favors, land and wealth on the temple. Shaolin Temple then thrived as a center of kung-fu masters from around the country. At its heyday, it housed more than 3,000 monks.
Always a center of rebellion, Shaolin was badly damaged by fire three times, most seriously in 1938, when a blaze raged for more than 40 days, destroying nearly all the temple's classical literature and records. The present buildings at Shaolin Temple are spread out over an area of about 10,000 acres. The most interesting relics are the murals in the Eastern Hall, which depict groups of boxing monks. There are now many Schools of Shaolin Gongfu set up to teach the traditional and unique martial arts in many parts of the country and contests are also held each year in different cities.



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