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36 Chambers of Death: The Energy Centers of the Ancient Shaolin Martial Arts

36 Chambers of Death: The Energy Centers of the Ancient Shaolin Martial Arts



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Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) was the name of the 1993 debut album by American rap group Wu-Tang Clan, which not only set a new standard for hardcore hip hop during the 1990s, but it brought New York City’s rap scene onto the international stage. The album’s title, 36 chambers , references the 1978-Shaw brothers’ Kung Fu movie, The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, also known as The Master Killer , which follows monk San Te, acted by Gordon Liu, struggling through 35 learning environments (chambers), finally forming a new ‘36th’ chamber; an academy of martial arts teaching young, non-monastic, farming people how to defend themselves in the impending rebellion to overthrow the repressive Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1912).

Map of the Qing Dynasty in 1820. (Includes provincial boundaries and the boundaries of modern China for reference ( CC BY-SA 3.0)

While this classic Kung Fu movie is generally celebrated for its relentless action and training scenes, the number ‘36’ is an archetypal Chinese symbol within martial arts and this special number is associated with the innermost secrets of the oldest and deadliest fighting systems of the Shaolin.

The Origins of the 36 Shaolin Death Strikes

While many fighting styles in southern and northern China use the name ‘Shaolin’ the original fighting style was created in 495 AD in Shàolín s ì, also known as the Shaolin Temple, situated on the north side of Shaoshi, the central peak of Mount Songs’ seven summits, in the Henan province, Chinaduring. The Shaolin Temple is the main temple of the Shaolin school of Buddhism to this day and it was here that Shaolin Kung Fu or Wushu was crafted. Concepts from Zen Buddhism known as ‘ Chan’, became the religion of the Shaolin, and these were married with martial arts called ‘ Quan.’ In scholar Jeffery Broughton’s 1999 book, The Bodhidharma Anthology: The Earliest Records of Zen we learn that Shaolin Monks devoted their lives to the philosophical and physical unification of Chan and Quan, mind and body.

Shuce Cliff is a famous natural landmark o n Mount Song, Henan, China, where the word ‘Shuce’ means ‘books’ in Chinese. Th is vertical upright was formed approximately 1.8 billion years ago by an intense orogeny - Zhongyue Movement, and monks would ascend and descend the rock on their hands and knees testing and developing their stamina, endurance and resistivity to pain. ( CC BY-SA 4.0 )


Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)

Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) is the debut studio album by American hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan, released on November 9, 1993, by Loud Records. Recording sessions took place during early-to-mid 1993 at Firehouse Studio in New York City, and the album was produced by the group's de facto leader RZA. Its title originates from the martial arts films Enter the Dragon (1973) and The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978). [2]

  1. "Protect Ya Neck"
    Released: May 3, 1993
  2. "Method Man"
    Released: August 3, 1993
  3. "C.R.E.A.M."
    Released: January 31, 1994
  4. "Can It Be All So Simple"
    Released: February 22, 1994

The gritty, distinctive sound of Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) created a blueprint for hardcore hip hop during the 1990s, and helped return New York City hip hop to national prominence. Its sound also became greatly influential in modern hip hop production, while the group members' explicit, humorous, and free-associative lyrics have served as a template for many subsequent hip hop records. Serving as a landmark release in the era of hip hop known as the East Coast Renaissance, its influence helped lead the way for several other East Coast rappers, including Nas, The Notorious B.I.G., Mobb Deep, and Jay-Z.

Despite its raw, underground sound, the album had surprising chart success, peaking at number 41 on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 30,000 copies in its first week on sale. By 1995 it was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, and in October 2018 it was certified triple platinum. [1] Initially receiving positive reviews from most music critics, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) is widely regarded as one of the most significant albums of the 1990s, as well as one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time.


Wu-Tang’s RZA on the influence of Bruce Lee

P erhaps it was nothing more than a coincidence. Aug. 11, 1973, is widely acknowledged as the day hip-hop was born at a back-to-school jam thrown by DJ Kool Herc in the Bronx, New York. Eight days later, on Aug. 19, Bruce Lee&rsquos Enter the Dragon was released in theaters, a box-office hit that helped launch a national fascination with mixed martial arts. So, if nothing else, both cultural tsunamis were born in the same humid and chaotic summer air.

&ldquoI didn&rsquot even notice that! Things happen like that,&rdquo RZA, the legendary Wu-Tang beatsmith, told The Undefeated. &ldquoBruce Lee melded so many different styles of martial arts with moves from Muhammad Ali, philosophies from Taoism and Buddhism, but he was also conscious of [people like] Malcolm X and the struggle of black America. It shows up all in his work and his persona.&rdquo

The waves crashed together two decades later, when the Wu-Tang Clan used Lee&rsquos movie as partial inspiration for the title of its influential debut studio album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Beyond Lee&rsquos magnum opus, the nine-member Staten Island, New York, conglomerate was omnivorous in its martial arts inspirations. All the members of the Wu-Tang Clan, but most notably RZA, admired Lee&rsquos fearlessness and abstract thinking and the creativity and discipline that came with Eastern philosophies.

&ldquoAs a kid, you imagine yourself being in a movie,&rdquo RZA said of &ldquoBe Like Water,&rdquo the new track that dropped Friday with the ESPN 30 for 30 film airing on Sunday. &ldquoTo be part of the culture and someone who is allowed to create elements of that culture, it&rsquos a blessing. A young Bobby Diggs [RZA&rsquos legal name] definitely would&rsquove only seen it as imagination.&rdquo

RZA of Wu-Tang Clan performs during the 36 Chambers 25th anniversary celebration.

Besides rapper and producer RZA, the Wu-Tang Clan&rsquos original nine members included MCs Method Man, Ghostface Killah (named after a character from 1979&rsquos Da Mystery of Chessboxin), Raekwon, U-God, Cappadonna, Masta Killa (named after Master Killer, the 1978 film also known as The 36th Chamber of Shaolin), Inspectah Deck and the incomparable Ol&rsquo Dirty Bastard (O.D.B.), who died in 2004.

The group itself is responsible for eight albums between 1993 and 2017, including the world&rsquos most valuable album, 2015&rsquos controversial Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. Many of the group&rsquos members, such as O.D.B., GZA and Raekwon, also found solo success via projects such as Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version, Liquid Swords and Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. Ghostface Killah, in his work with the Wu-Tang Clan and on personal albums such as Ironman, Supreme Clientele and Fishscale, is unquestionably one of the genre&rsquos finest verbal architects. Method Man, too, found fame with his &rsquo94 debut Tical &mdash and a robust career in Hollywood in movies such as Belly and How High, and TV series like HBO&rsquos The Wire and later The Deuce, Netflix&rsquos Luke Cage, TBS&rsquo The Last O.G. and the upcoming Power Book II: Ghost.

We can argue whether the Wu-Tang Clan is the greatest faction rap has ever produced. What isn&rsquot debatable, however, is the group&rsquos cultlike following across the world. Which makes sense, because in Wu-Tang Clan lives influences spanning the globe, from the Nation of Islam and Five Percenters to comic book mythology to the myths and traditions of Eastern martial arts.

RZA&rsquos introduction to martial arts came via a double feature of 1976&rsquos Fury of the Dragon (which posthumously featured Lee, who died of cerebral edema on July 20, 1973) and the blaxploitation flick Black Samurai, featuring Jim Kelly. RZA became fixated on the ideologies, patience, discipline and leadership portrayed in these movies.

His top five martial arts films are The 36 Chamber of Shaolin, Five Deadly Venoms, The Eight Diagram, Pole Fighter, The Mystery of Chessboxing and, as he told a New York City crowd in 2016, &ldquoany Bruce Lee [movie].&rdquo What he learned in these movies became the framework for how he approached the music industry and life.

The Wu-Tang Clan used Bruce Lee&rsquos movie as partial inspiration for the title of its influential debut studio album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).

Which helps explain the impact of 1993&rsquos Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). At its core, 36 Chambers is as gritty a rap record to ever exist, predating other Big Apple time stamps such as Nas&rsquo Illmatic and The Notorious B.I.G.&rsquos Ready To Die a year later. Much like N.W.A., the Wu-Tang Clan housed a maniacal producer in RZA and a crew of diversely influential MCs. And much like the characters in the movies that had come to form RZA&rsquos creative and philosophical blueprint, every artist was stylistically unique.

Of New York&rsquos five boroughs, Staten Island had no true authentic hip-hop identity until 1993. Queens already had LL Cool J, Kool G Rap and Rev. Run from Run-DMC. Manhattan had Kurtis Blow, Biz Markie and Teddy Riley. DJ Kool Herc, KRS-One, D-Nice, Slick Rick, Grandmaster Caz and Melle Mel all hailed from the Bronx. Big Daddy Kane, MC Lyte, Jeru the Damaja and Jam Master Jay repped Brooklyn. Even Long Island boasted Public Enemy, Bumpy Knuckles and Rakim. Enter the Wu-Tang changed the legacy of hip-hop forever on Staten Island.

The aesthetic of 36 Chambers shouldered the gritty anger the Wu-Tang Clan felt from years of racism on the island. And martial arts films were portals to a world that didn&rsquot feel physically tangible, but RZA desperately wanted to explore. &ldquo[Those movies] were a total escape at the end of the day. I actually played hooky from school inside movie theaters,&rdquo he said, laughing. &ldquoJust a young mind who was supposed to be absorbing the education of the world and here I am absorbing a different kind of education. And it was just as useful, if not even more.&rdquo

The influence of Lee and a legion&rsquos worth of martial arts films and Eastern influences bled into the project&rsquos DNA. Most obviously, Enter the Wu-Tang is a direct homage to Lee&rsquos final movie, Enter the Dragon. And 36 Chambers, of course, name-checks The 36th Chamber of Shaolin.

Films have the power to capture and make worlds, he said. And when a young mind deciphers that world properly, the film does more than its original intent. Which is how Shaolin ended up in Staten Island.

&ldquoThose films together were pivotal sources of inspirations for me,&rdquo RZA said. &ldquoThink about it. [In Enter the Dragon], there&rsquos an incorporation of the white karate guy with John Saxon, the black martial arts brother with Jim Kelly and Asian with Bruce Lee. They were all working together against the oppressor who was poisoning the people. If you add in a few other elements, that&rsquos our country, bro!&rdquo

A poster for the British release of the 1973 martial arts action film Enter the Dragon, starring (from bottom to top) Bruce Lee, Jim Kelly, John Saxon and Ahna Capri.

Movie Poster Image Art/Getty Images

The album also samples from or includes lyrical homages to 1976&rsquos Master of the Flying Guillotine and Executioners of Shaolin (&ldquoWu-Tang Clan Ain&rsquot Nuthin&rsquo to F Wit&rdquo), 1978&rsquos Five Deadly Venoms (&ldquoDa Mystery of Chessboxin&rsquo &rdquo), 1979&rsquos Ten Tigers of Kwangtung (&ldquoBring da Ruckus&rdquo) and 1983&rsquos Shaolin and Wu Tang (&ldquoShame on a N&mdasha&rdquo).

The Wu-Tang Clan&rsquos fascination with martial art flicks wasn&rsquot a one-off homage. Lee and many other stars from the genre became part of who they were and, by proxy, an irreplaceable part of hip-hop culture. Method Man and Raekwon&rsquos 1994 &ldquoMeth vs. Chef&rdquo on Tical, O.D.B.&rsquos &ldquoIntro&rdquo from his 1995 debut and the RZA-directed 2012 film The Man with the Iron Fists all contained samples from 1978&rsquos 36th Chamber. RZA also produced the score for 2003&rsquos action-thriller Kill Bill: Vol. 1. Ten Tigers reared its head on Method Man&rsquos 1994 &ldquoI Get My Thang In Action.&rdquo That same year, Raekwon&rsquos &ldquoGuillotine (Swordz)&rdquo intro sampled 1983&rsquos Shaolin vs. Lama. GZA&rsquos 1995 &ldquo4th Chamber&rdquo featured an excerpt from 1980&rsquos Shogun Assassin. Ghostface Killah&rsquos 1996&rsquos &ldquoPoisonous Darts&rdquo drew inspiration from The Mystery of Chessboxing.

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&ldquoI turned Ghost on to that movie, but he always loved that one scene where the guy is like, &lsquoThe clouds are high, the sky is low,&rsquo &rdquo RZA recalled. &ldquoEvery time he&rsquod watch that movie smoking weed, he&rsquod be like, &lsquoThat&rsquos my s&mdash right there!&rsquo When it came time to do his album, I put it in there. As a producer, I always retained what somebody liked.&rdquo

Using these martial art movies as intros and outros, lyrical kites or samples, and a deep devotion to a foreign culture made the group worldwide counterculture heroes. And in a long and often knotty history between the U.S. and China, people in both countries champion the Wu-Tang Clan.

&ldquoIf we pull the skin back further, we&rsquoll see it&rsquos more commonalities,&rdquo RZA noted. &ldquoBruce Lee was a man who represented what both of these superpowers people represent. He has diversity all in him and he&rsquos still pure to his culture! Us as people, we most likely already have the common denominator, which is our humanity. But the people in positions of leadership, they put humanity on the back burner.&rdquo

He continued: &ldquoThe fact is that it&rsquos so many things from their culture that&rsquos swelled our culture and so many things from our culture that&rsquos swelled into their culture. It&rsquos always been a cross-pollination.&rdquo

The Wu-Tang Clan poses for a portrait on May 8, 1993, in Staten Island, New York. From left to right: Raekwon, GZA, Ol&rsquo Dirty Bastard, RZA and Method Man.

Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

For many years, martial arts films didn&rsquot get Hollywood&rsquos complete respect. The industry had been resistant to casting an Asian leading man, for example. That&rsquos why the legacy of Lee and the legions of Asian actors before and after him remain an indelible fixture in hip-hop. Their influence is felt even today. Kendrick Lamar&rsquos DAMN Tour featured 90 minutes of martial arts-inspired videos with the Pulitzer Prize-winning MC donning an all-black uniform in the spirit of the craft.

The Wu-Tang Clan&rsquos willingness to embrace that culture both expanded their influence and impacted their work. &ldquoI&rsquom definitely proud that Wu-Tang and our art shows exemplifies this cross-pollination of culture,&rdquo RZA said. &ldquoI&rsquom glad that we&rsquore living examples of it and I hope that our music and legacy continues to represent that.&rdquo

Make no mistake, the legacy that Wu-Tang will leave the world is already set in stone. There&rsquos no way to discuss the lineage of hip-hop without talking about this bloc from Staten Island. Yet, they won&rsquot allow their story to be told without acknowledging the impact of one man who challenged conventional entertainment wisdom in America. Could the story of the Wu-Tang Clan be told without Bruce Lee? RZA&rsquos almost offended such a question could even be asked.

&ldquoNah,&rdquo he said, &ldquothat world don&rsquot even exist. Bruce Lee is a prophet.&rdquo

Lee preached what the ESPN documentary, 47 years after his death, is titled: Be Water. The Wu-Tang Clan did just that. Except that in hip-hop, they were a tidal wave.


36 Chambers of Death: The Energy Centers of the Ancient Shaolin Martial Arts - History

One-Finger Zen is a hallmark of Shaolin Kungfu

It is commonly said that there are 72 arts of Shaolin Kungfu. These 72 arts are sometimes divided into two groups, namely 36 external arts and 36 internal arts, or 36 “hard” arts and 36 “soft” arts.

It should be noted that an external art is often but not necessarily “hard”, and internal art is often but not necessarily “soft”. This is a misconception many people, including kungfu practitioners, have. The Art of Flexibility, for example, is external, but it is “soft”. Sinew Metamorphosis is internal, but it is “hard”.

It is also worthwhile to know that “hard” and “soft” here are not what most people, especially those not exposed to kungfu, may conceptualize what they mean. These two terms, “hard” and "soft", are translated from the Chinese “gang” and “rou”, or “kong” and “yau” in Cantonese. A "soft" force may be more powerful than a "hard" force, a kungfu concept many people may find it difficult to comprehend.

It is also worthwhile to know that internal force is not necessarily more powerful than external strength, though it often is. But it is certain that internal force is more beneficial. It is also independent of age, size and gender.

It is not certain when the concept of 72 arts of Shaolin was first used, but I believe it was probably during the Ming Dynasty (14th to 17th century), which was relatively late as Shaolin Kungfu started about the 6th century during the Sui Dynasty. Despite its relatively late entry into Shaolin Kungfu, it still has a long history of many hundred years, considering that many martial arts today are only about a hundred years old. Hence, there are different versions of the 72 Shaolin arts, with some versions very different from others.

There are surely more than 72 arts in Shaolin Kungfu, but terms like 36, 72 and 108 are commonly used in Shaolin terminology. This was in honour of Bodhidharma and the Eighteen Lohan Hands, the first set of exercises taught by Bodhidharma, regarded as the First Patriarch of the Shaoin arts, to the Shaolin monks at the Shaolin Monastery in Henan for nine years starting in 527. Hence, many Shaolin terms, like kungfu sets and arts, take the multiple of 18, such as the 36 Shaolin Leg Techniques, and the 108-Pattern Essence of Shaolin Set.

Let us have a look at three different sets of the 72 Arts of Shaolin. The first is from the popular book available from the internet, “Training Methods of the 72 Arts of Shaolin”, by Jin Jing Zhong the second is from a modern Chinese book edited by a team of modern Shaolin monks from the Shaolin Monastery in China, based on a classic of the past, “Genuine Shaolin 72 Arts” and the third is from 72 Arts of Shaolin practiced in our school suggested by our Shaolin Wahnam family members in our Discussion Forum and selected by me.


72 Arts of Shaolin mentioned by Jin Jing Zhong

As some of the arts are literally translated from Chinese, which may not be intelligible to non-Chinese speaking people, I have changed some of the terms, without changing the meaning.

Some of the training is quite brutal, with pain and injury not an uncommon factor. For example, in the training of "Striking with Foot", practitioners are required to kick at rocks with their toes until sending the rocks flying some distance away.

    1. Diamond Finger
    2. Twin Lock
    3. Striking with Foot
    4. Pulling out a Nail
    5. Embracing a Tree
    6. Art of Four Parts
    7. One-Finger Zen
    8. Iron Head
    9. Iron Shirt
    10. Art of Taking Blows

    Grandmaster Wong demonstrating the Art of Tiger Claw


    72 Arts of Shaolin mentioned in a Shaolin classic

    Most of the 72 arts mentioned here are the same as those mentioned in the above book, but are not in the same order. It is probable that the author of the above book took the list from the Shaolin classic.

    The Shaolin classic emphasizes that these arts should be learned from a master, not from books. Practitioners should have basic training before attempting these specialized arts, suggesting (though it is not explicitly stated) that basic information practitioners are supposed to know, is not mentioned.

      1. Iron Arm
      2. Ability to take Blows
      3. Iron Sweeping Leg
      4. Shooting Leg
      5. Kicking Leg
      6. Bamboo-Leave Hand
      7. Hopping Centepede
      8. Lifting Thousand Pounds
      9. Lohan Art
      10. Iron Head


      72 Arts of Shaolin practiced in Shaolin Wahnam

      In a thread in Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum, 72 Arts of Shaolin Kungfu started by Ray in 2005, and revived by Sifu Markus Kahila in 2015, our family members mentioned more than 72 arts practiced in our school. David Langford gave an impressive list of 72 arts, with an extra art, "Art of Being a Cheeky Monkey", practiced by some.

      To confirm with the magical number 72, I have selected 72 Arts of Shaolin practiced in our school as follows. Some arts, like Eighteen Lohan Hands and Bone Marrow Cleansing, are collective, i.e. there are many arts under one heading. Some versions of the 72 Shaolin Arts, for example, list "Lifting the Sky" and "Pushing Mountain" as separate arts.

        1. Smiling from the Heart
        2. Art of Entering Silence
        3. Art of Chi Flow
        4. Art of Point Message
        5. Art of Heavenly Drums
        6. Eighteen Jewels
        7. Five-Animal Play
        8. Eighteen Lohan Hands
        9. Art of Massaging Internal Organs
        10. Eighteen-Lohan Art

        "Lifting Bronze Vessel" is a powerful force training exercise in Eighteen-Lohan Art


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        Contents

        Kung fu and wushu are loanwords from Cantonese and Mandarin respectively that, in English, are used to refer to Chinese martial arts. However, the Chinese terms kung fu and wushu ( listen (Mandarin) ( help · info ) Cantonese Yale: móuh seuht ) have distinct meanings. [1] The Chinese equivalent of the term "Chinese martial arts" would be Zhongguo wushu (Chinese: 中國武術 pinyin: zhōngguó wǔshù ) (Mandarin).

        In Chinese, the term kung fu refers to any skill that is acquired through learning or practice. It is a compound word composed of the words 功 (gōng) meaning "work", "achievement", or "merit", and 夫 (fū) which is a particle or nominal suffix with diverse meanings.

        Wushu literally means "martial art". It is formed from the two Chinese characters 武術 : 武 (), meaning "martial" or "military" and 術 or 术 (shù), which translates into "art", "discipline", "skill" or "method". The term wushu has also become the name for the modern sport of wushu, an exhibition and full-contact sport of bare-handed and weapon forms ( 套路 ), adapted and judged to a set of aesthetic criteria for points developed since 1949 in the People's Republic of China. [2] [3]

        Quanfa ( 拳法 ) is another Chinese term for Chinese martial arts. It means "fist method" or "the law of the fist" (quan means "boxing" or "fist", and fa means "law", "way" or "method"), although as a compound term it usually translates as "boxing" or "fighting technique." The name of the Japanese martial art kempō is represented by the same hanzi characters.

        The genesis of Chinese martial arts has been attributed to the need for self-defense, hunting techniques and military training in ancient China. Hand-to-hand combat and weapons practice were important in training ancient Chinese soldiers. [4] [5]

        Detailed knowledge about the state and development of Chinese martial arts became available from the Nanjing decade (1928–1937), as the Central Guoshu Institute established by the Kuomintang regime made an effort to compile an encyclopedic survey of martial arts schools. Since the 1950s, the People's Republic of China has organized Chinese martial arts as an exhibition and full-contact sport under the heading of “wushu”.

        Legendary origins Edit

        According to legend, Chinese martial arts originated during the semi-mythical Xia Dynasty (夏朝) more than 4,000 years ago. [6] It is said the Yellow Emperor (Huangdi) (legendary date of ascension 2698 BCE) introduced the earliest fighting systems to China. [7] The Yellow Emperor is described as a famous general who, before becoming China's leader, wrote lengthy treatises on medicine, astrology and the martial arts. One of his main opponents was Chi You (蚩尤) who was credited as the creator of jiao di, a forerunner to the modern art of Chinese wrestling. [8]

        Early history Edit

        The earliest references to Chinese martial arts are found in the Spring and Autumn Annals (5th century BCE), [9] where a hand-to-hand combat theory, one that integrates notions of "hard" and "soft" techniques, is mentioned. [10] A combat wrestling system called juélì or jiǎolì ( 角力 ) is mentioned in the Classic of Rites. [11] This combat system included techniques such as strikes, throws, joint manipulation, and pressure point attacks. Jiao Di became a sport during the Qin Dynasty (221–207 BCE). The Han History Bibliographies record that, by the Former Han (206 BCE – 8 CE), there was a distinction between no-holds-barred weaponless fighting, which it calls shǒubó ( 手搏 ), for which training manuals had already been written, and sportive wrestling, then known as juélì ( 角力 ). Wrestling is also documented in the Shǐ Jì, Records of the Grand Historian, written by Sima Qian (ca. 100 BCE). [12]

        In the Tang Dynasty, descriptions of sword dances were immortalized in poems by Li Bai. In the Song and Yuan dynasties, xiangpu contests were sponsored by the imperial courts. The modern concepts of wushu were fully developed by the Ming and Qing dynasties. [13]

        Philosophical influences Edit

        The ideas associated with Chinese martial arts changed with the evolution of Chinese society and over time acquired some philosophical bases: Passages in the Zhuangzi ( 莊子 ), a Taoist text, pertain to the psychology and practice of martial arts. Zhuangzi, its eponymous author, is believed to have lived in the 4th century BCE. The Tao Te Ching, often credited to Lao Zi, is another Taoist text that contains principles applicable to martial arts. According to one of the classic texts of Confucianism, Zhou Li ( 周禮 ), Archery and charioteering were part of the "six arts" (Chinese: 六藝 pinyin: liu yi , including rites, music, calligraphy and mathematics) of the Zhou Dynasty (1122–256 BCE). The Art of War ( 孫子兵法 ), written during the 6th century BCE by Sun Tzu ( 孫子 ), deals directly with military warfare but contains ideas that are used in the Chinese martial arts.

        Taoist practitioners have been practicing Tao Yin (physical exercises similar to Qigong that was one of the progenitors to T'ai chi ch'uan) from as early as 500 BCE. [14] In 39–92 CE, "Six Chapters of Hand Fighting", were included in the Han Shu (history of the Former Han Dynasty) written by Pan Ku. Also, the noted physician, Hua Tuo, composed the "Five Animals Play"—tiger, deer, monkey, bear, and bird, around 208 CE. [15] Taoist philosophy and their approach to health and exercise have influenced the Chinese martial arts to a certain extent. Direct reference to Taoist concepts can be found in such styles as the "Eight Immortals," which uses fighting techniques attributed to the characteristics of each immortal. [16]

        Southern and Northern dynasties (420–589 AD) Edit

        Shaolin temple established Edit

        In 495 CE, a Shaolin temple was built in the Song mountain, Henan province. The first monk who preached Buddhism there was the Indian monk named Buddhabhadra ( 佛陀跋陀羅 Fótuóbátuóluó ), simply called Batuo ( 跋陀 ) by the Chinese. There are historical records that Batuo's first Chinese disciples, Huiguang ( 慧光 ) and Sengchou ( 僧稠 ), both had exceptional martial skills. [ citation needed ] For example, Sengchou's skill with the tin staff is even documented in the Chinese Buddhist canon. [ citation needed ] After Buddhabadra, another Indian [17] monk, named Bodhidharma ( 菩提達摩 Pútídámó ), also known as Damo ( 達摩 ) by the Chinese, came to Shaolin in 527 CE. His Chinese disciple, Huike ( 慧可 ), was also a highly trained martial arts expert. [ citation needed ] There are implications that these first three Chinese Shaolin monks, Huiguang, Sengchou, and Huike, may have been military men before entering the monastic life. [18]

        Shaolin and temple-based martial arts Edit

        The Shaolin style of kung fu is regarded as one of the first institutionalized Chinese martial arts. [19] The oldest evidence of Shaolin participation in combat is a stele from 728 CE that attests to two occasions: a defense of the Shaolin Monastery from bandits around 610 CE, and their subsequent role in the defeat of Wang Shichong at the Battle of Hulao in 621 CE. From the 8th to the 15th centuries, there are no extant documents that provide evidence of Shaolin participation in combat.

        Between the 16th and 17th centuries, at least forty sources exist to provide evidence both that monks of Shaolin practiced martial arts, and that martial practice became an integral element of Shaolin monastic life. The earliest appearance of the frequently cited legend concerning Bodhidharma's supposed foundation of Shaolin Kung Fu dates to this period. [20] The origin of this legend has been traced to the Ming period's Yijin Jing or "Muscle Change Classic", a text written in 1624 attributed to Bodhidharma.

        References of martial arts practice in Shaolin appear in various literary genres of the late Ming: the epitaphs of Shaolin warrior monks, martial-arts manuals, military encyclopedias, historical writings, travelogues, fiction, and poetry. However, these sources do not point out any specific style that originated in Shaolin. [21] These sources, in contrast to those from the Tang period, refer to Shaolin methods of armed combat. These include a skill for which Shaolin monks became famous: the staff (gùn, Cantonese gwan). The Ming General Qi Jiguang included a description of Shaolin Quan Fa (Chinese: 少林拳法 Wade–Giles: Shao Lin Ch'üan Fa lit. 'Shaolin fist technique' Japanese: Shorin Kempo) and staff techniques in his book, Ji Xiao Xin Shu ( 紀效新書 ), which can translate as New Book Recording Effective Techniques. When this book spread across East Asia, it had a great influence on the development of martial arts in regions such as Okinawa [22] and Korea. [23]

        Modern history Edit

        Republican period Edit

        Most fighting styles that are being practiced as traditional Chinese martial arts today reached their popularity within the 20th century. Some of these include Baguazhang, Drunken Boxing, Eagle Claw, Five Animals, Xingyi, Hung Gar, Monkey, Bak Mei Pai, Northern Praying Mantis, Southern Praying Mantis, Fujian White Crane, Jow Ga, Wing Chun and Taijiquan. The increase in the popularity of those styles is a result of the dramatic changes occurring within the Chinese society.

        In 1900–01, the Righteous and Harmonious Fists rose against foreign occupiers and Christian missionaries in China. This uprising is known in the West as the Boxer Rebellion due to the martial arts and calisthenics practiced by the rebels. Empress Dowager Cixi gained control of the rebellion and tried to use it against the foreign powers. The failure of the rebellion led ten years later to the fall of the Qing Dynasty and the creation of the Chinese Republic.

        The present view of Chinese martial arts is strongly influenced by the events of the Republican Period (1912–1949). In the transition period between the fall of the Qing Dynasty as well as the turmoil of the Japanese invasion and the Chinese Civil War, Chinese martial arts became more accessible to the general public as many martial artists were encouraged to openly teach their art. At that time, some considered martial arts as a means to promote national pride and build a strong nation. As a result, many training manuals (拳譜) were published, a training academy was created, two national examinations were organized and demonstration teams traveled overseas. [24] Numerous martial arts associations were formed throughout China and in various overseas Chinese communities. The Central Guoshu Academy (Zhongyang Guoshuguan, 中央國術館) established by the National Government in 1928 [25] and the Jing Wu Athletic Association (精武體育會) founded by Huo Yuanjia in 1910 are examples of organizations that promoted a systematic approach for training in Chinese martial arts. [26] [27] [28] A series of provincial and national competitions were organized by the Republican government starting in 1932 to promote Chinese martial arts. In 1936, at the 11th Olympic Games in Berlin, a group of Chinese martial artists demonstrated their art to an international audience for the first time.

        The term kuoshu (or guoshu, 國術 meaning "national art"), rather than the colloquial term gongfu was introduced by the Kuomintang in an effort to more closely associate Chinese martial arts with national pride rather than individual accomplishment.

        People's Republic Edit

        Chinese martial arts experienced rapid international dissemination with the end of the Chinese Civil War and the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949. Many well known martial artists chose to escape from the PRC's rule and migrate to Taiwan, Hong Kong, [29] and other parts of the world. Those masters started to teach within the overseas Chinese communities but eventually they expanded their teachings to include people from other ethnic groups.

        Within China, the practice of traditional martial arts was discouraged during the turbulent years of the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1969–1976). [3] Like many other aspects of traditional Chinese life, martial arts were subjected to a radical transformation by the People's Republic of China to align them with Maoist revolutionary doctrine. [3] The PRC promoted the committee-regulated sport of Wushu as a replacement for independent schools of martial arts. This new competition sport was disassociated from what was seen as the potentially subversive self-defense aspects and family lineages of Chinese martial arts. [3]

        In 1958, the government established the All-China Wushu Association as an umbrella organization to regulate martial arts training. The Chinese State Commission for Physical Culture and Sports took the lead in creating standardized forms for most of the major arts. During this period, a national Wushu system that included standard forms, teaching curriculum, and instructor grading was established. Wushu was introduced at both the high school and university level. The suppression of traditional teaching was relaxed during the Era of Reconstruction (1976–1989), as Communist ideology became more accommodating to alternative viewpoints. [30] In 1979, the State Commission for Physical Culture and Sports created a special task force to reevaluate the teaching and practice of Wushu. In 1986, the Chinese National Research Institute of Wushu was established as the central authority for the research and administration of Wushu activities in the People's Republic of China. [31]

        Changing government policies and attitudes towards sports, in general, led to the closing of the State Sports Commission (the central sports authority) in 1998. This closure is viewed as an attempt to partially de-politicize organized sports and move Chinese sport policies towards a more market-driven approach. [32] As a result of these changing sociological factors within China, both traditional styles and modern Wushu approaches are being promoted by the Chinese government. [33]

        Chinese martial arts are an integral element of 20th-century Chinese popular culture. [34] Wuxia or "martial arts fiction" is a popular genre that emerged in the early 20th century and peaked in popularity during the 1960s to 1980s. Wuxia films were produced from the 1920s. The Kuomintang suppressed wuxia, accusing it of promoting superstition and violent anarchy. Because of this, wuxia came to flourish in British Hong Kong, and the genre of kung fu movie in Hong Kong action cinema became wildly popular, coming to international attention from the 1970s. The genre underwent a drastic decline in the late 1990s as the Hong Kong film industry was crushed by economic depression.

        In the wake of Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), there has been somewhat of a revival of Chinese-produced wuxia films aimed at an international audience, including Zhang Yimou's Hero (2002), House of Flying Daggers (2004) and Curse of the Golden Flower (2006), as well as Su Chao-pin and John Woo's Reign of Assassins (2010).

        China has a long history of martial arts traditions that includes hundreds of different styles. Over the past two thousand years, many distinctive styles have been developed, each with its own set of techniques and ideas. [35] There are also common themes to the different styles, which are often classified by "families" ( 家 jiā), "sects" ( 派 pai) or "schools" ( 門 men). There are styles that mimic movements from animals and others that gather inspiration from various Chinese philosophies, myths and legends. Some styles put most of their focus into the harnessing of qi, while others concentrate on competition.

        Chinese martial arts can be split into various categories to differentiate them: For example, external ( 外家拳 ) and internal ( 內家拳 ). [36] Chinese martial arts can also be categorized by location, as in northern ( 北拳 ) and southern ( 南拳 ) as well, referring to what part of China the styles originated from, separated by the Yangtze River (長江) Chinese martial arts may even be classified according to their province or city. [24] The main perceived difference between northern and southern styles is that the northern styles tend to emphasize fast and powerful kicks, high jumps and generally fluid and rapid movement, while the southern styles focus more on strong arm and hand techniques, and stable, immovable stances and fast footwork. Examples of the northern styles include changquan and xingyiquan. Examples of the southern styles include Bak Mei, Wuzuquan, Choy Li Fut, and Wing Chun. Chinese martial arts can also be divided according to religion, imitative-styles ( 象形拳 ), and family styles such as Hung Gar ( 洪家 ). There are distinctive differences in the training between different groups of the Chinese martial arts regardless of the type of classification. However, few experienced martial artists make a clear distinction between internal and external styles, or subscribe to the idea of northern systems being predominantly kick-based and southern systems relying more heavily on upper-body techniques. Most styles contain both hard and soft elements, regardless of their internal nomenclature. Analyzing the difference in accordance with yin and yang principles, philosophers would assert that the absence of either one would render the practitioner's skills unbalanced or deficient, as yin and yang alone are each only half of a whole. If such differences did once exist, they have since been blurred.

        Chinese martial arts training consists of the following components: basics, forms, applications and weapons different styles place varying emphasis on each component. [37] In addition, philosophy, ethics and even medical practice [38] are highly regarded by most Chinese martial arts. A complete training system should also provide insight into Chinese attitudes and culture. [39]

        Basics Edit

        The Basics ( 基本功 ) are a vital part of any martial training, as a student cannot progress to the more advanced stages without them. Basics are usually made up of rudimentary techniques, conditioning exercises, including stances. Basic training may involve simple movements that are performed repeatedly other examples of basic training are stretching, meditation, striking, throwing, or jumping. Without strong and flexible muscles, management of Qi or breath, and proper body mechanics, it is impossible for a student to progress in the Chinese martial arts. [40] [41] A common saying concerning basic training in Chinese martial arts is as follows: [42]

        Train both Internal and External. External training includes the hands, the eyes, the body and stances. Internal training includes the heart, the spirit, the mind, breathing and strength.

        Stances Edit

        Stances (steps or 步法) are structural postures employed in Chinese martial arts training. [43] [44] [ self-published source? ] They represent the foundation and the form of a fighter's base. Each style has different names and variations for each stance. Stances may be differentiated by foot position, weight distribution, body alignment, etc. Stance training can be practiced statically, the goal of which is to maintain the structure of the stance through a set time period, or dynamically, in which case a series of movements is performed repeatedly. The Horse stance ( 騎馬步/馬步 qí mǎ bù/mǎ bù) and the bow stance are examples of stances found in many styles of Chinese martial arts.

        Meditation Edit

        In many Chinese martial arts, meditation is considered to be an important component of basic training. Meditation can be used to develop focus, mental clarity and can act as a basis for qigong training. [45] [46]

        Use of qi Edit

        The concept of qi or ch'i ( 氣 ) is encountered in a number of Chinese martial arts. Qi is variously defined as an inner energy or "life force" that is said to animate living beings as a term for proper skeletal alignment and efficient use of musculature (sometimes also known as fa jin or jin) or as a shorthand for concepts that the martial arts student might not yet be ready to understand in full. These meanings are not necessarily mutually exclusive. [note 1] The existence of qi as a measurable form of energy as discussed in traditional Chinese medicine has no basis in the scientific understanding of physics, medicine, biology or human physiology. [47]

        There are many ideas regarding the control of one's qi energy to such an extent that it can be used for healing oneself or others. [48] Some styles believe in focusing qi into a single point when attacking and aim at specific areas of the human body. Such techniques are known as dim mak and have principles that are similar to acupressure. [49]

        Weapons training Edit

        Most Chinese styles also make use of training in the broad arsenal of Chinese weapons for conditioning the body as well as coordination and strategy drills. [50] Weapons training ( 器械 qìxiè) is generally carried out after the student becomes proficient with the basic forms and applications training. The basic theory for weapons training is to consider the weapon as an extension of the body. It has the same requirements for footwork and body coordination as the basics. [51] The process of weapon training proceeds with forms, forms with partners and then applications. Most systems have training methods for each of the Eighteen Arms of Wushu( 十八般兵器 shíbābānbīngqì) in addition to specialized instruments specific to the system.

        Application Edit

        Application refers to the practical use of combative techniques. Chinese martial arts techniques are ideally based on efficiency and effectiveness. [52] [53] Application includes non-compliant drills, such as Pushing Hands in many internal martial arts, and sparring, which occurs within a variety of contact levels and rule sets.

        When and how applications are taught varies from style to style. Today, many styles begin to teach new students by focusing on exercises in which each student knows a prescribed range of combat and technique to drill on. These drills are often semi-compliant, meaning one student does not offer active resistance to a technique, in order to allow its demonstrative, clean execution. In more resisting drills, fewer rules apply, and students practice how to react and respond. 'Sparring' refers to a more advanced format, which simulates a combat situation while including rules that reduce the chance of serious injury.

        Competitive sparring disciplines include Chinese kickboxing Sǎnshǒu ( 散手 ) and Chinese folk wrestling Shuāijiāo ( 摔跤 ), which were traditionally contested on a raised platform arena Lèitái ( 擂台 ). [54] Lèitái represents public challenge matches that first appeared in the Song Dynasty. The objective for those contests was to knock the opponent from a raised platform by any means necessary. San Shou represents the modern development of Lei Tai contests, but with rules in place to reduce the chance of serious injury. Many Chinese martial art schools teach or work within the rule sets of Sanshou, working to incorporate the movements, characteristics, and theory of their style. [55] Chinese martial artists also compete in non-Chinese or mixed Combat sport, including boxing, kickboxing and Mixed martial arts.

        Forms Edit

        Forms or taolu (Chinese: 套路 pinyin: tàolù ) in Chinese are series of predetermined movements combined so they can be practiced as a continuous set of movements. Forms were originally intended to preserve the lineage of a particular style branch, and were often taught to advanced students selected for that purpose. Forms contained both literal, representative and exercise-oriented forms of applicable techniques that students could extract, test, and train in through sparring sessions. [56]

        Today, many consider taolu to be one of the most important practices in Chinese martial arts. Traditionally, they played a smaller role in training for combat application and took a back seat to sparring, drilling, and conditioning. Forms gradually build up a practitioner's flexibility, internal and external strength, speed and stamina, and they teach balance and coordination. Many styles contain forms that use weapons of various lengths and types, using one or two hands. Some styles focus on a certain type of weapon. Forms are meant to be both practical, usable, and applicable as well as to promote fluid motion, meditation, flexibility, balance, and coordination. Students are encouraged to visualize an attacker while training the form.

        There are two general types of taolu in Chinese martial arts. Most common are solo forms performed by a single student. There are also sparring forms — choreographed fighting sets performed by two or more people. Sparring forms were designed both to acquaint beginning fighters with basic measures and concepts of combat and to serve as performance pieces for the school. Weapons-based sparring forms are especially useful for teaching students the extension, range, and technique required to manage a weapon.

        Forms in Traditional Chinese Martial Arts Edit

        The term taolu (套路) is a shortened version of Tao Lu Yun Dong (套路運動), an expression introduced only recently with the popularity of modern wushu. This expression refers to "exercise sets" and used in the context of athletics or sport.

        In contrast, in traditional Chinese martial arts alternative terminologies for the training (練) of 'sets or forms are:

        • lian quan tao (練拳套) – practicing a sequence of fists.
        • lian quan jiao (練拳腳) – practicing fists and feet.
        • lian bing qi (練兵器) – practicing weapons.
        • dui da (對打) and dui lian (對練) – fighting sets.

        Traditional "sparring" sets, called dui da (對打) or dui lian (對練), were an essential part of Chinese martial arts for centuries. Dui lian means, to train by a pair of combatants opposing each other—the character lian (練), refers to practice to train to perfect one's skill to drill. As well, often one of these terms are also included in the name of fighting sets (雙演 shuang yan), "paired practice" (掙勝 zheng sheng), "to struggle with strength for victory" (敵 di), match – the character suggests to strike an enemy and "to break" (破 po).

        Generally, there are 21, 18, 12, 9 or 5 drills or 'exchanges/groupings' of attacks and counterattacks, in each dui lian set. These drills were considered only generic patterns and never meant to be considered inflexible 'tricks'. Students practiced smaller parts/exchanges, individually with opponents switching sides in a continuous flow. Dui lian were not only sophisticated and effective methods of passing on the fighting knowledge of the older generation, but they were also essential and effective training methods. The relationship between single sets and contact sets is complicated, in that some skills cannot be developed with solo 'sets', and, conversely, with dui lian. Unfortunately, it appears that most traditional combat oriented dui lian and their training methodology have disappeared, especially those concerning weapons. There are several reasons for this. In modern Chinese martial arts, most of the dui lian are recent inventions designed for light props resembling weapons, with safety and drama in mind. The role of this kind of training has degenerated to the point of being useless in a practical sense, and, at best, is just performance.

        By the early Song period, sets were not so much "individual isolated technique strung together" but rather were composed of techniques and counter technique groupings. It is quite clear that "sets" and "fighting (two-person) sets" have been instrumental in TCM for many hundreds of years—even before the Song Dynasty. There are images of two-person weapon training in Chinese stone painting going back at least to the Eastern Han Dynasty.

        According to what has been passed on by the older generations, the approximate ratio of contact sets to single sets was approximately 1:3. In other words, about 30% of the 'sets' practiced at Shaolin were contact sets, dui lian, and two-person drill training. This ratio is, in part, evidenced by the Qing Dynasty mural at Shaolin.

        For most of its history, Shaolin martial arts was mostly weapon-focused: staves were used to defend the monastery, not bare hands. Even the more recent military exploits of Shaolin during the Ming and Qing Dynasties involved weapons. According to some traditions, monks first studied basics for one year and were then taught staff fighting so that they could protect the monastery. Although wrestling has been as sport in China for centuries, weapons have been an essential part of Chinese wushu since ancient times. If one wants to talk about recent or 'modern' developments in Chinese martial arts (including Shaolin for that matter), it is the over-emphasis on bare hand fighting. During the Northern Song Dynasty (976- 997 A.D) when platform fighting is known as Da Laitai (Title Fights Challenge on Platform) first appeared, these fights were with only swords and staves. Although later, when bare hand fights appeared as well, it was the weapons events that became the most famous. These open-ring competitions had regulations and were organized by government organizations the public also organized some. The government competitions, held in the capital and prefectures, resulted in appointments for winners, to military posts.

        Practice forms vs. kung fu in combat Edit

        Even though forms in Chinese martial arts are intended to depict realistic martial techniques, the movements are not always identical to how techniques would be applied in combat. Many forms have been elaborated upon, on the one hand, to provide better combat preparedness, and on the other hand to look more aesthetically pleasing. One manifestation of this tendency toward elaboration beyond combat application is the use of lower stances and higher, stretching kicks. These two maneuvers are unrealistic in combat and are used in forms for exercise purposes. [57] Many modern schools have replaced practical defense or offense movements with acrobatic feats that are more spectacular to watch, thereby gaining favor during exhibitions and competitions. [note 2] This has led to criticisms by traditionalists of the endorsement of the more acrobatic, show-oriented Wushu competition. [58] Historically forms were often performed for entertainment purposes long before the advent of modern Wushu as practitioners have looked for supplementary income by performing on the streets or in theaters. Documentation in ancient literature during the Tang Dynasty (618–907) and the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1279) suggests some sets, (including two + person sets: dui da also called dui lian) became very elaborate and 'flowery', many mainly concerned with aesthetics. During this time, some martial arts systems devolved to the point that they became popular forms of martial art storytelling entertainment shows. This created an entire category of martial arts known as Hua Fa Wuyi. During the Northern Song period, it was noted by historians this type of training had a negative influence on training in the military.

        Many traditional Chinese martial artists, as well as practitioners of modern sport combat, have become critical of the perception that forms work is more relevant to the art than sparring and drill application, while most continue to see traditional forms practice within the traditional context—as vital to both proper combat execution, the Shaolin aesthetic as an art form, as well as upholding the meditative function of the physical art form. [59]

        Another reason why techniques often appear different in forms when contrasted with sparring application is thought by some to come from the concealment of the actual functions of the techniques from outsiders. [60] [ self-published source? ]

        Forms practice is mostly known for teaching combat techniques yet when practicing forms, the practitioner focuses on posture, breathing, and performing the techniques of both right and left sides of the body. [61]


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        There are many Shaw movies that comprise my memories of growing up in the '80s. but this Gordon Liu flick is one, if not THE best of them all, even Clan of the White Lotus IMO (and apologies to all that think so -- it deserves to be up there :D).

        The best thing by far about this movie, is the storytelling. We see San Te go from nearly dying as a young rebel, rescued by Shaolin. his talent, determination, and hard work in the Chambers, each of his teachers giving him a unique style, perspective, or technique, strict but fair. then rejoining society and bringing down the leader of the evil Mings that killed his father -- all with some honestly *amazing* martial arts choreography through it all.

        Favorites are the Li Yoon Too Chi (head monk)'s two-swords vs. San Te's triple-section staff battles (oddly his name 'san-te' is actually 'three virtues' in hanzi, but the same pronunciation can mean 'three hands', like the weapon). the fight with Lo Tsing and his soldiers. and of course the final battle with General Tin. Gordon Liu has said many times, he laments that so many modern Hong Kong martial arts stars, never bother to practice actual gungfu. and this film is a perfect explanation why.

        The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (or 'Master Killer' as it was and is for me). satisfies much like the classic Steven Spielberg film -- all characters, even (or esp) the comic relief, seem fully-fleshed out and you *feel* as if you've been on San Te's long adventure alongside him. That seems a quality missing not only from a great majority of martial arts films past and present. but all films since Y2K esp -- coherent storytelling.

        Bonus: the lighting, color, soundtrack, and feel of this film. bring me right back to single/early dbl-digit age, Sundays after the beach. meat on the hibachi and Budweisers popping open as my uncles and cousins watched Kung Fu Theatre with us, late '70s/early '80s. This movie literally never fails to bring back a flood of memories from that age.

        And on top of that, it's a pretty good movie. Five stars, easy )

        PS: there's another Shaw movie about a mother and father (mom is an expert on Crane Style, father Tiger Style) who meet and have a child who is forced to learn Crane. and learns while training on a Brass Man energy-meridian training statue, the secret to how to kill the near-invicible man (a Pai-Mei-like long bearded guru) who killed them. Don't know if I'm smooshing together memories of two movies tbh. but am reasonably confident it's one movie. Anyone know the title?

        Honestly I think general audiences would rate this film a 1 or 2 star. The plot is there in the first 15 and last 15 minutes of the movie, the rest is a diversion. There's a lot of cheesy stuff, the dubbing is good for an old kung-fu movie but bad by today's standards. Kind of a movie you watch just to see what happens, not because there's a compelling story.

        For a kung-fu fan though, this movie is excellent. Lots of action. Scenes are fluid and fun. Half the film is training montages but they aren't like normal training montages, they do a much better job of conveying the depth of training the character goes through and the struggles he endures. I couldn't look away from the film, every scene had a little catch that made me want to see how things played out. I was so impressed by how much length they went to, to make every scene feel like it was really happening. Even though things are cheesy by today's standards and all the metal of all the weapons are obviously fake, the movie made it easy to suspend disbelief. There were a lot of "cute" parts in the training that were satisfying as well but i dont want to spoil them.

        36th Chamber of Shaolin is an all-time classic Shaw Brothers film featuring Gordon Liu. It plays upon a common trope of Hong Kong films of the Han Chinese struggling against the Manchus who ruled the country. That’s struck home by Liu’s teacher who talks about patriotic Chinese who are fighting to liberate their country. He inspires Liu to join the resistance which eventually forces him to flee to the Shaolin Temple where he learns martial arts. The story developed this theme more than others of the time which just took it for granted since they were for a Chinese audience that knew their history.

        The movie is known for its extensive training sequences which were always a mainstay of Kung Fu films. This one however had Liu and the others at Shaolin going through several levels hence the title. It’s one of the main draws even more than the fighting.

        It was also highly influential. The first scene where a Chinese resistance fighter jumps from a roof into the middle of a Manchu procession might be familiar to some as it was borrowed by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Another time Liu has to carry water as part of his routine at Shaolin which was referenced in Kill Bill Vol. 2 which also had Liu in it. Finally it helped spread the myth of Shaolin Kung Fu around the world.


        About Us

        36 Chambers Martial Arts & Fitness is a labor of love between Muay Thai fighters Josh and Alex (Stokman) Brackett. They feel strongly that every warrior has their own path, and are committed to helping each individual discover and thrive during their journey. The couple met during a Muay Thai class in Illinois, and realized they shared a common love for muay thai, fighting, and the culture of the sport. The couple later wed and honeymooned in Thailand, and have built their family and lives around Muay Thai.

        The name ‘36 Chambers’ is a reference to the 1978 movie, “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin”, a kung fu movie about a young student who seeks liberation for his people from the Manchu government. The student goes to train with the Shaolin monks, and embarks on a journey of rigor, discipline, and self-reflection. The monks train novices in Shaolin Kung Fu in 35 different temples, focusing on 35 different skills. The student advances so rapidly, and asks to create a single chamber for civilians to learn kung fu, so they may defend themselves against their oppressors. The temple does not agree, so the student goes off and creates his own training camp, the 36th Chamber. The movie was the inspiration for 36 Chambers Martial Arts & Fitness. at 3

        In 2014, Josh and Alex pursued their dream to own and operate their own successful gym, and opened Peoria Muay Thai. The gym was highly successful, producing 6 national champions in less than 3 years, and quickly grew a large membership.

        In 2017, the couple moved to North Carolina for Alex’s job, and sold PMT. with the intention of starting a gym again. Since the move, Josh has steadily built up a solid base of clients, and established a reputation as one of the premier Muay Thai Coaches in the area. Josh remains an active fighter, and most recently competed in the 2019 International Kickboxing Federation (IKF) tournament, and won the Men’s Junior Middleweight class. Since officially leaving competition in 2015, Alex still actively trains, but stays focused on coaching. Alex and Josh are joined by professional Mixed Martial Arts fighter, and top-ranked featherweight and lightweight in North Carolina, Adli “Sunshine” Edwards, who brings highly skilled instruction in MMA, Wrestling, Grappling and Strength & Conditioning. Find out more about our instructors, here


        The truth about Shaolin monks, from a Shaolin monk

        Most martial artists are familiar with the extraordinary powers of the Shaolin monks. They train in the use of 36 weapons, and each monk picks two animal movements and styles to specialize in.

        Considering their training since childhood, would Shaolin Monks make a worthy opponent against a seasoned champion in UFC? Probably not, since their goals are much different than a UFC fighter.

        This Shaolin monk moves like a movie character! – But does it work?

        Stacey Nemour from the Huffington Post, interviewed Sifu Wang Bo, an 11 year old Shaolin monk:

        Stacey Nemour: At what age is the student at the Shaolin Temple tested?

        Bo: From age three and up. When you first arrive at the temple there will be a test. The test is not determined by age, rather by when the master feels you are ready. The physical test is short. The biggest part of the test is on answering questions about one’s view of life.

        Stacey Nemour: The Shaolin Monks don’t eat meat but have boundless energy. What do you they eat for protein?

        Bo: Their protein comes from beans, tofu, milk and nuts.

        Stacey Nemour: What is the daily schedule for the monks growing up at the temple?

        Bo: A typical daily schedule, including the vegetarian diet served at each meal, is up at 5:30 a.m., chanting 6 a.m. breakfast, which consists of a soup made of beans called eight treasures then more chanting and a half-hour break, followed by two hours of kung fu training.

        During training, the monks switch what form or style they are practicing every 10 minutes. After practice, more chanting until at 11:30 a.m., lunchtime, which consists of five to six different vegetables, tofu and rice.

        We do not drink tea or liquids with our meals to aid in easy digestion. Lunch finishes at approximately 12:30. Now it is back to chanting, then comes a two-hour break. During this time the monks may meditate, relax or nap.

        At approximately 3:00 p.m., another two-hour kung fu practice session begins. This wraps up at 5 p.m. There is no chanting before dinner out of respect for the dead. At 5:30 p.m., noodles are served for dinner, with bread — the breads we eat are black or yellow wheat 6:30 p.m., Heart Sutra chanting for one hour — we call the heart the center of the Universe 8 p.m., quiet time for meditation 10 p.m., bedtime.

        Stacey Nemour: What method is used to teach the children to train properly and focus?

        Bo: harsh words can scar a person for life. Physical punishment is usually forgotten within a few days, and is much more effective at getting the student to perform at their best.

        Stacey Nemour: There are no illnesses or injuries during practice?

        Bo: Yes, all the time. We have our own hospital (Western medicine is not used, just the technology). We go every two weeks to monitor the progress in the brain that meditation produces by using EEG testing.

        Stacey Nemour: Are their still great kung fu masters at the temple today, as we have heard about the legends in the history of the temple?

        Bo: Masters are not as powerful today due to the electrical signals such as wi-fi, satellite, radio, television etc. As a result masters are 15 percent less powerful than in ancient times.

        Stacey Nemour: What can we all do daily to advance on our path?

        Bo: Love. Don’t be selfish. Do daily acts of kindness. Be nice. Pray a lot. Practice a lot. With practice comes wisdom. Wisdom brings advancement each day. And pain brings growth — that’s how we learn.

        Stacey Nemour: Why do you all seem to never get tired, even with your demanding daily training schedule?

        Bo: Because we don’t have a draining and meaningless program of thought running through our heads.

        There are many, many people at the Shaolin temple. Most are not monks, or at least not in the sense that you might think. Shaolin monks can be split up into different categories. Those at the Shaolin temple can be categorized in the following way.

        1. Abbott
        2. Shaolin Monks
        3. Shaolin Lay Monks

        1. Abbott
        The Abbott is the leader of the Shaolin Temple organization. Shaolin is now a corporation, making millions of dollars every year, with a very active interest from the Chinese government. The current Abbott, Shì Yǒngxìn, has been called the CEO monk and this could not be more true. Like many religious organizations around the world, Shaolin, being Buddhist, is cashing in. This has led to a lot of criticism from within the Chinese community and abroad.

        2. Shaolin Monks
        Shaolin monks can take different forms. Not every monk you see in and around the temple is a brilliant warrior. A Shaolin monk is simply a monk. They follow the life of a Buddhist monk. That is the key thing here. They give their life over to their religion, following strict rules, including celibacy, abstaining from meat and alcohol. Traditionally, monks would be given a bowl would have to beg for food as one of the rules was to only accept what was given.

        3. Shaolin Lay Monks
        Not everyone at the temple or those who have associations with the temple are cut out for the strict requirements of being a Shaolin monk. Those who decide the life is not for them are not cut off from the temple however. There are many schools in China teaching martial arts who say they have authentic Shaolin monks teaching. When people arrive and see the masters wearing jeans and a shirt, many feel at least slightly confused and even deceived.


        An Ode to 'Kung Faux'—the Show That Married Martial Arts and Hip-Hop

        In the early �s, cable channels such as BET, MTV, and CMT broke onto the scene and established their dominance in the music television space. By the time MuchMusic USA became Fuse in 2003, music videos began migrating to the internet, and so the channel inaugurated itself with a curious program entitled Kung Faux, a unique and transgressive comedy composed entirely from pre-existing footage. 

        Kung Faux&aposs immediate hip-hop connection came via the voice cast, which featured a rotating roster of legends such as Guru, Queen Latifah, Masta Ace, Afrika Bambaataa, and members of De La Soul, and culturally aligned figures such as KAWS, Steve Powers, and Harold Hunter.਎nglish dubs were laid atop old martial arts films, which were re-edited into contemporary American stories using sound, comic-esque transitions, and the written word.

        While the show could lazily be described as "reverse Wu-Tang"—which would be a fair diagnosis—there’s more to Kung Faux and hip-hop’s longstanding martial arts infatuation than RZA’s loving pastiches, Kung Fu Kenny, and Lupe’s brushing up on his sword styles. Whether they know it or not, all these artists have contributed to the cultural crossover.

        Chinese martial arts and hip-hop first became intertwined in the mid-�s when both crafts began to seep into the American cultural consciousness. The advent of hip-hop, which occurred on a hot summer night in 1973, happened against a backdrop of increased interest in kung fu. Inner city cinemas began showing the films𠅎xotic, foreign and cheap—immediately attracting an audience taken by the perplexing customs and physically impressive feats within.

        The early disciples of hip-hop, raised on both block parties and mystical fighting styles, found ways to fuse their interests. South Bronx native Joseph Sadler was nicknamed 𠇏lash” for his dexterous hands and innovative turntable techniques, but it wasn’t until his career took off that he prefaced his moniker with "Grandmaster," a title inferring proficiency. Interestingly, "master" was a mistranslation of "teacher," a word that took hold in the States following the Korean War, which film distributors capitalized on for the promotion of their films.

        Hip-hop pioneer Grandmaster Caz, the de facto leader of the Cold Crush Brothers, was an early fan of the term, which appeared in the rhymes Big Bank Hank stole from Caz for the first hit rap single, “Rapper’s Delight.” For good measure, Hank also mentioned karate on 1981’s 𠇈th Wonder.”

        This novel collision truly came to the forefront in 1993, with the blockbuster debut from the Wu-Tang Clan. Much of the group&aposs mythos was directly inspired by and lifted from the films of Shaw Brothers Studios: Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) was named for The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, a 1978 film in which the titular chamber is 𠇊 special martial arts class for laypeople to learn kung fu.” 

        One of RZA’s foremost honorifics, The Abbot, was obtained from the same film, which the legendary producer used to flip superficial references into full-on samples, pulling elements from these films and using their familiar tropes to better furnish the world of the Wu. The group might be named after a fighting style, but their kung fu affection runs far deeper than just references the clashing of swords cut through the English dubs. When sampling was seen as tantamount to theft, RZA furnished his sonic world with the sounds of his childhood, uplifting an otherwise languishing phenomenon and re-injecting it into the zeitgeist.

        The first generation of the Wu-Tang Clan, from 1992 to 1997, found this movement reaching critical mass. Almost every solo record from the camp featured some element of fantastical Wu-Tang combat. While the most prominent was Method Man’s Tical (“Tical,” “Meth Vs. Chef”), fleeting references also appeared on more crime-oriented efforts Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… (“Guillotine (Swordz)”), and Ironman (“Poisonous Darts”). GZA’s Liquid Swords was steeped in Japan’s Jidaigeki genre, invoking the exploits of samurai and Shogun, while Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Return to the 36 Chambers (The Dirty Version) was named for the 1980 sequel to The 36th Chamber of Shaolin.

        “This is the first generation of African Americans [to] not be extending the range of music,” R&B legend James Mtume lamented in the late �s. Indeed, though hip-hop was bringing in a wider audience with each passing year, it was taking and re-purposing elements of other cultural phenomena—soul, funk, disco, rock, films, speeches and so on—more than ever before. This behavior inspired the wrath of establishment musicians, including, most notably, Mark Volman of The Turtles, who famously argued that 𠇊nybody who can honestly say sampling is some sort of creativity has never done anything creative.”

        Mic Neumann, the 𠇌ultural engineer” behind Kung Faux, began working on the program in the late �s. Neumannꃞscribed the process as treating the original film “like a DJ treats a record," with a specific focus on “the melting pot of music” that crops up in each episode. 

        What is hip-hop if not a collision of sounds and palettes, assembled by producers and furnished by samplers?

        While the program incorporated elements of comic book culture–namely, superimposed text and supernatural embellishments–it was edited in a cut-and-paste style reminiscent of hip-hop production techniques. If the original film is a record, then the 30-minute edit is a coherent sample: though comprised of mere elements, it still tells a cohesive story, like the best flips. 

        The inspired transitions and overlaid frames are scratches on the wax the thrilling punctuation that breaks up the sample. The dubbing is the rhymes themselves, loaded with regional slang and cultural references, and delivered in a distinctive drawl.


        Watch the video: Shaolin Temple with Jet Li in English (August 2022).