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(2 pages total)

Page 2 - Shaolin FAQ

Henan Temple EntranceShaolin Expansion

The Chan Buddhist philosophy that started the Shaolin sect continued to evolve and adapt, absorbing many of the beliefs of visitors to the temple. It adopted many of the Taoist (Daoist) principles of the time, thus making Shaolin a unique sect of its own that was basically an amalgamation of many of the popular beliefs, with a strong emphasis on its highly developed martial art system.

Repeated attacks from leaders who feared the power of the monks, and long periods of inactivity when leaders did not always agree with the philosophies of the Shaolin, caused some monks to leave the temple and travel to other areas of China. These monks would sometimes teach their philosophy and their martial skills at other temples, thus recruiting them into the powerful fold of the Shaolin in Henan.

Temples in Wu-Tang and O Mei Shan were converted to the Shaolin beliefs, and new temples were constructed in Fukien and Kwangtung, making a total of Five powerful strongholds of philosophical and martial training within China.

The End of an Era

The beginning of the end for the powerful Shaolin was the Boxer rebellion in 1901. This was a time in China when Western and Japanese governments controlled most of the business interests of China.

China was divided into zones or regions, each controlled by one of the foreign powers. These conditions, coupled with the almost universal dislike by the Chinese for their Empress at that time, created a Nationalist movement with grass-roots support. The leaders of this new movement were the legendary and famous martial artists, many Shaolin. They were known as the "Boxers", and they believed that their martial arts skill was superior to that of the guns and advanced weapons of their foreign opponents. Despite their skill, they were easily defeated, with many being killed.

Following the rebellion, the country was in chaos and regional warlords were fighting each other for control of regions as well as partnering together to expell the foreign powers. During this time, the Shaolin and other monks were routinely murdered by soldiers on both the Chinese and the foreign sides. This caused a mass exodus of monks into the hillsides, as they feared the destruction of their temples. By fleeing into the mountains, they felt that at least their knowledge would survive.

As expected, all of the the abandoned temples were looted and destroyed. The O Mei Shan Temple in Szechuan was used as an artillery practice site by Chinese officers, then was shelled by Nationalist and by Communist armies in turn.

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