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By Jikishin Kobudo, Nov 1 2013 12:00PM

The fall of a Temple and the rise of secular martial arts

Large organised groups of martial artists were considered a threat to the governing elite of the Qing dynasty (1644 – 1912), this meant that the Shaolin were heavily scrutinised. As such, due to the political insecurity of the Qing and after being identified as a possible source of insurrection, the Southern Temple was regrettably destroyed. From that day forth, fighting traditions in Southern China were often practised in secret and in small groups for fear of persecution. As a result the practice of martial arts became secularised.

The convergance and celebration of styles and approaches that reputedly took place within Shaolin had ended and as the centuries passed, martial artists in isolation began to diverge in techniques and outlooks. This can partly explain why today, we see many different martial arts styles, most of which claim to have been developed from Shaolin traditions. These styles can often appear quite different in application and ethos. Could they really share the same root?

The similarities between Sanchin kata from Karate and Sil Lum Tao from southern Chinese Kung Fu are clear to even an untrained eye, as are the locking and throwing techniques of Chin Na and Jiu Jitsu. In weapons practice, many of the Okinawan kata (particularly for the staff) are named after Chinese experts and we can see the same weapons used in Hung Gar Kung Fu can be found in Kobudo. The key principles of strong stances, considered breathing and body conditioning form the foundation of most martial arts and it is perhaps through these that we are best able to see the true legacy of the Shaolin.

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