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Shaolin Monks


As the acknowledged founders of Kung Fu, the Shaolin Monks have experienced a turbulent history. Over the past fifteen hundred years they have engaged in battles to protect the Chinese Emperors against warlords and foreign invaders and to defend their Temple against attack. Their involvement in these military campaigns further developed the martial art we know today as Shaolin Kung Fu.


Nowadays the Monks are renowned as much for their peaceful existence as for their elite fighting skills but, as in centuries past, they continue to practice their Kung Fu disciplines and remain steady to defend their Temple.

Saholin Soldiers

The monks became soldiers to protect the Temple from bandits. At this time China's monastic economies were expanding as a result of royal patronage. The Temple grew considerably in size and importance when Emperor Wen Di of the Sui dynasty donated 1,648 acres of land on which it built exquisite halls and pavilions and acquired many employees and attendants to maintain and farm the extensive grounds. This obvious wealth made it a target for marauding bandits and thus the Monk-Soldier was born.
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Photographs by Diana Scrimgeour
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