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【Learn Chinese】Shaolin Kung Fu
Although there are a multitude of different styles of Chinese martial arts, some are more popular than others. Shaolin Kung Fu (少林功夫 Shàolín Gōngfū) is one of the most popular styles of Chinese martial arts. Considered an “external style,” Shaolin Kung Fu was developed by monks at the Shaolin Temple in Henan Province.

The Shaolin Kung Fu style is distinguished by quick, forceful movements and makes use of weapons including spears and, most famously, staffs.
The Shaolin style has a history of over 1,500 years and is believed to have been started by Buddhist monks from central Asia. One of these monks, Bodhidharma, is also credited with having founded the Chan school of Buddhism, the precursor to modern Japanese Zen Buddhism.
Over the years, Shaolin Kung Fu gained semi-mythic status in China as a result of the exploits of Shaolin Temple’s “soldier monks.” The Shaolin monks supported the founding members of the Tang imperial family in their successful armed struggle for the throne. During the Ming dynasty, the government also enlisted Shaolin monks to fight off multinational gangs of pirates that plagued China’s coastal areas with frequent raids.
Shaolin monks didn’t always enjoy government support, however. During the Qing dynasty, their monastery was even accused of anti-Qing activities and destroyed, only to be rebuilt later on.
Today, there are over 1,000 different sub-styles of Shaolin Kung Fu. Various schools of martial arts in other countries such as Japan also claim their origins can be traced back to the Shaolin style.