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Shaolin Kung Fu

Although martial arts have been documented in China since 2600 B.C., the source of today’s martial arts originate from A.D. 527, when Indian monk Ta Mo (Bodhidharma) arrived at Shaolin in Henan province. Before his arrival, the Shaolin monks practiced Taoism and meditation. Ta Mo found the monks to be lacking physical ability stating, “The body, mind and spirit are inseparable, and if you neglect one, the others will suffer.” Ta Mo spent nine years developing three skills to physically and mentally aid the monks: “muscle change classics”; “bone marrow washing course”; and the 18 lou han fists (18 Buddhist Fists), which became the foundation of Shaolin kung fu. Ta Mo synthesized Taoism with Indian Mahayana Buddhism to create Chan (Zen) Buddhism.

Several hundred external martial arts (styles that focus on physiological development rather than chi cultivation) with direct ties to Shaolin kung fu have proliferated from Ta Mo’s 18 Buddhist fists—the most famous being the Five Animal Styles of Shaolin. These styles were developed in the mid-1600s by Shaolin monk Zheu Yang and two other martial artists: Li Sou and Bai Yu-feng.

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  1. Shaolin Training Master Steve DeMasco’s Self-Defense Moves and Street-Fighting Tips

    Shaolin Training Master Steve DeMasco’s Self-Defense Moves and Street-Fighting Tips

    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!
    Read More »

  2. Tai Chi Training for Middle-Aged Martial Artists Who Refuse to Quit

    Tai Chi Training for Middle-Aged Martial Artists Who Refuse to Quit

    On our walk down the martial path, we will find that we cannot rely on our martial arts training as we did when we were younger. That head-high kick gets harder and harder to deliver effectively. The power in that once-awesome reverse punch seems to slip, regardless of how much
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  3. The Combat Techniques of Shaolin Kung Fu’s Legendary Animal Styles

    The Combat Techniques of Shaolin Kung Fu’s Legendary Animal Styles

    If you’re on the prowl for new ways to improve your martial arts skills and expand your knowledge base, the five animals of Shaolin kung fu are for you. By studying the fighting methods of the snake, crane, tiger, leopard and dragon, you’ll glimpse kung fu through the eyes of
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  4. Shaolin Chuan Fa DVD Trailer – Part 1

    Shaolin Chuan Fa DVD Trailer – Part 1

    Learn the authentic art of shaolin chuan fa from Black Belt Hall of Fame member Steve DeMasco in this exciting three-part DVD series! DeMasco has been a student of the martial arts since 1971 and has trained with some of the most famous Chinese grandmasters in the world, studying Shaolin
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  5. Shaolin Self-Defense for the Street

    Shaolin Self-Defense for the Street

    Black Belt Hall of Fame member Steve DeMasco demonstrates empty-hand ground-defense techniques for situations such as attacks from the rear and escaping a full-nelson hold. DeMasco is the author of An American’s Journey to the Shaolin Temple and has released two DVD sets through Black Belt. For more information on
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  6. Shaolin Chuan Fa DVD Trailer – Part 2

    Shaolin Chuan Fa DVD Trailer – Part 2

    Learn the authentic art of shaolin chuan fa from Black Belt Hall of Fame member Steve DeMasco in this exciting three-part DVD series! Steve DeMasco has been a student of the martial arts since 1971 and has trained with some of the most famous Chinese grandmasters in the world, studying
    Read More »

  7. Shaolin Chuan Fa DVD Trailer – Part 3

    Shaolin Chuan Fa DVD Trailer – Part 3

    Learn the authentic art of shaolin chuan fa from Black Belt Hall of Fame member Steve DeMasco in this exciting three-part DVD series! Steve DeMasco has been a student of the martial arts since 1971 and has trained with some of the most famous Chinese grandmasters in the world, studying
    Read More »

  8. 9 Martial Arts Training Tips From Kung Fu Expert Mark Cheng

    9 Martial Arts Training Tips From Kung Fu Expert Mark Cheng

    People tell me I tend to sound like an old-timer. I tell them to shut up and get off my lawn! Then I explain that a lot can be learned from comparing the way we did things in the past with the way people do them now. Case in point:
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  9. China’s Martial Arts | Vintage Black Belt

    China’s Martial Arts | Vintage Black Belt

    China has always been the traditional home of the Asian martial arts. For 2,000 years, its people have experimented with and developed self-defense systems that have only recently become known in other countries as karate, judo, jujutsu and sumo.
    Yet curiously, little is known of the Chinese martial arts (wushu) outside
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  10. The 5 Kung Fu Animal Styles of the Chinese Martial Arts

    The 5 Kung Fu Animal Styles of the Chinese Martial Arts

    To longtime readers of Black Belt, Steve DeMasco needs no introduction. A student of the martial arts since 1968, he’s been a fixture in the magazine since his debut in the February 1998 issue. Over the ensuing years, he’s espoused his views on the physical and philosophical sides of the
    Read More »