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         Bodhidarma (Dot Mor) traveled from India to the Sil-Lum temple on Mt. Shaoshi in the Sung Mountains in 502-557 A.D. during the Liang Dynasty.  Bodhidarma was a famous Buddhist monk who taught zen (chan) Buddhism in the Sil-Lum temple.  Here, according to legend, he noticed the Chinese disciples could not stay awake during long meditations.  So, he introduced the 18 Lohan hand movements.  During this time, kung-fu split into two systems: internal (nei-dan) and external (wai-dan).  The beginning of chi gung (breath control) developed from this.
         Two classics were written by Bodhidarma: “Sinew Change Classic” and “Washing Marrow Classic”.  From these 18 movements and classics, 72 techniques were developed which later evolved into 170 techniques.  These techniques were divided into five styles which were called the five formed fist and became the basis of Sil-Lum kung fu’s (Ng Ying Ga) five animal style.
 
          1. CRANE (hao):
              *Develops sinew for balance externally and chin (essence)                 internally.
              *Teaches self -control.
              *Uses grace, quick foot movements, wrist trapping, knee strikes                 and beak  strikes.
          2. LEOPARD (pao):
              *Develops muscle speed for external strength.
              *Teaches patience
              *Uses leopard punch for penetration and lower body springing                 power.
          3.  TIGER (hu):
              *Develops bones for external power.
              *Teaches courage.
              *Uses tiger claw for sinking in grabs, holding and throwing                 techniques.
          4.  SNAKE (she):
              *Develops internal chi (intrinsic energy) and external flexibility.
              *Teaches two methods: A) Stationary—internal training for                 suppleness;
                B) Movement—external training for endurance.
          5.  DRAGON (lung):
              *Develops spirit (shen) and mind power.
              *Teaches spiritual calmness and concentration.
              *Uses body twisting techniques, elbow strikes and dragon claw for                 hooking
 
         Sil-Lum kung fu was taught only to monks in the temple and they were well known for their martial arts excellence.  They could not leave the temple until they passed a life or death test.  Sealed in a chamber the monk had to work his way through a series of traps and wooden dummies that were triggered mechanically.  at the end of the chamber was a gate and in front of the gate was a smoldering urn.  To leave the chamber, the monks were to move this urn with their arms wrapped around it, which branded their forearms with two dragons which was the symbol of the Sil-Lum inner chamber disciples.
         During the time of the Sung Dynasty (1206-1337), Chang San Feng (a disciple and Taoist in the Sil-Lum temple) was considered an excellent student.  He was believed to have created the tai chi chuan (Grand Ultimate Fist).  Tai chi chuan is a system which minimizes the use of external strength and emphasizes internal strength or chi.  This was developed after Chang San Feng watched an encounter between a snake and a crane.  Tai chi chuan is based on five elements: metal, wood, water, fire and earth.  It also helps circulate late blood, breath, chi flow and helps build one’s awareness.
         In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), kung fu was referred to as chi yang and the art flourished throughout China during this time.  Wang Lang, a Buddhist of the Sil-Lum temple, invented tong long or the praying mantis system.  He created the system after seeing an encounter with a mantis and a cicada, which led him to experiment with the mantis to create a new technique.
 The system uses an antenna (the arm and hand) to find an opponent’s strength and direction, hooking and trapping techniques with its strong forearm and mantis claw (si diu).  Later monkey (hou san) footwork was added to the system for mobility. Also during this time Ch’en Yuan Ping traveled to Japan and introduced chin-na to the Japanese.  Chin-NA (grasp and control) is a system of joint manipulation through locks and holds.
         In the Ching Dynasty (1644-1911), Kou Sze killed a man and was imprisoned.  As he sat in his prison cell he observed monkeys.  From these observations he devised the monkey system (hou-chuan) which was thought to have come from the Grand Earth or Heaven Earth style (ti-t’ang men).
        Sil-Lum was taught only to worthy students and the secrets remained in the temple.  During the 17th century when China was conquered by the Ching Dynasty, supporters of the Ming Dynasty took refuge in the Sil-Lum temple. The temple was then invaded and destroyed by forces of the Ching Dynasty.  During this period a few monks escaped and the secrets of the Sil-Lum temple were closed to the outside world.
         Since then the Chinese fighting arts have been divided into many schools.  Some schools practice internal styles and some practice external styles and others practice a combination of both, but whichever they practice they still owe they development to Sil-Lum Kung Fu.

 

 

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