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Shaolin Sect

05 七月 2015
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The Shaolin Sect is a fictional martial arts sect mentioned in several works of wuxia fiction. It is one of the largest and best known orthodox sects in the wulin (martial artists' community). Its home base is in Shaolin Monastery, Henan, China. It is also sometimes referred to as "Shaolin Monastery" or "Shaolin Temple" instead of "Shaolin Sect".

Apart from playing the role of a leading righteous sect in the wulin in wuxia novels, Shaolin is also featured in popular culture and martial arts films such as The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978), Shaolin Temple (1982), and Shaolin (2011). It is also synonymous with Chinese martial arts as it is mentioned in wuxia stories as the origin of all Chinese martial arts. It is best known worldwide for the Shaolin Kung Fu associated with the monastery.

The sect's members are predominantly Buddhist monks with a minority of non-monks known as "secular students" (俗家弟子). Apart from training in martial arts, the monks also follow Buddhist customs, and practices.

History

The Shaolin Sect was founded in the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period by the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma. Bodhidharma founded the sect for Buddhist followers to practise martial arts, with the aims of improving health, training in self-defence, upholding justice and helping the weak. As such, Shaolin students were expected to behave ethically in addition to having a good mastery of martial arts.

Organisation

The sect is led by the abbot, or fangzhang (方丈), of the monastery. Ranked below him are the elders of the sect.

Shaolin students are ranked by generation. Each member of a certain generation has a prefix before his Buddhist name to indicate his position in the Shaolin hierarchy. In Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils, the most senior generation is the Xuan (玄) generation. The abbot is Xuanci (玄慈) and several elders such as Xuanji (玄寂), Xuannan (玄難), Xuandu (玄渡) and Xuanku (玄苦) also have a "Xuan" prefix in their names. One of the novel's three protagonists, Xuzhu (虛竹), is from the Xu (虛) generation, which is two generations below the Xuan generation.

In The Legend of the Condor Heroes, the Xianxia Sect (仙霞派) is a branch of Shaolin. Its base is at Yunxi Monastery (雲棲寺) in southern China. Its members include Reverend Jiaomu, Reverend Kumu, and Kumu's apprentice, Lu Guanying.

The following is a list of generation ranks in different eras:

  • Song dynasty: Ling (靈), Xuan (玄), Hui (慧), Xu (虛), Kong (空)
  • Yuan dynasty: Du (渡), Kong (空), Yuan (圓), Hui (慧), Fa (法), Xiang (相), Zhuang (莊)
  • Qing dynasty: Da (大), Jue (覺), Guan (觀), Hui (晦), Cheng (澄), Jing (靜), Yan (嚴), Hua (華)

The sect is also subdivided into several different branches and clusters (or halls), which take charge of different aspects of the sect's daily activities. They include:

  • Abbot's living quarters (方丈精舍)
  • Bodhidharma Hall (达摩院/达摩堂), the martial arts training grounds for only Shaolin martial arts.
  • Arhat Hall (罗汉堂), the meeting grounds with challengers from other sects.
  • Prajñā Hall (般若院/般若堂), another martial arts training grounds, where other sects' martial arts are also practised.
  • Discipline Hall (戒律院), in charge of maintaining law and order in the sect.
  • Bodhi Hall (菩提院), the place where the Yijin Jing is kept.
  • King of Herbs Hall (药王院), the hospital wing where the sick and injured are attended to.
  • Śarīra Hall (舍利院), the crematorium for cremating deceased members.
  • Guest Hall (知客院), the reception grounds for guests.
  • Library (藏经阁), the place where Buddhist scriptures and martial arts manuals are kept.

Martial arts

The Shaolin Sect is hailed as the origin of all Chinese martial arts and as a leading orthodox sect in the wulin (martial artists' community). In Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils, it is said to house 72 powerful forms of martial arts and no one has managed to master all of them since the founding of the sect. These martial arts have Buddhist-style names, such as Bodhidharma's Palm (達摩掌) and Arhat's Fist (羅漢拳).

It is also home to the Yijin Jing (易筋經), a manual instructing the user how to master a certain technique that improves the user's prowess in all types of martial arts. It has also powerful healing properties if the user manages to master the skill. In Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils, You Tanzhi acquires the manual by chance and uses its skills to purge poison in his body after he is bitten by venomous creatures. The sutra also increases his inner energy and stamina, allowing him to deliver an ordinary palm stroke with a force several times the original impact. In The Smiling, Proud Wanderer, Linghu Chong uses the skills in the manual to heal his internal wounds.

Note: Although the skills listed here are entirely fictional, some are based on actual martial arts.
  • Foundation skills:
    • Shaolin Long Fist (少林長拳)
    • Arhat Fist (羅漢拳)
    • Tiger Subduing Palm (伏虎掌)
    • Skanda Palm (韋馱掌)
    • Merciful Thousand Leaves Hand (大慈大悲千葉手)
  • Fist styles:
    • Dashing Shaolin (闖少林)
    • Drunken Fist (醉拳)
    • Five Elements Linked Fist (五行連環拳)
    • Lu Zhishen Pounds the Door Drunken Fist (魯智深醉打山門拳)
    • Heaven and Earth in the Sleeve (袖里乾坤)
    • Great Vajra Fist (大金剛拳)
  • Palm styles:
    • Great Skanda Palm (大韋馱掌)
    • Evil Subduing Palm (降魔掌)
    • Divine Vajra Palm (金剛神掌)
    • Vajra Prajñā Palm (金剛般若掌)
    • Prajñā Palm (般若掌)
    • Eight Styles of Divine Palm (神掌八打)
    • Thousand Hands Buddha Palm (千手如來掌)
    • Mount Meru Palm (須彌山掌)
    • Flower Scattering Palm (散花掌)
    • Snowy Mountain Palm (雪山掌)
    • Bodhidharma Palm (達摩掌)
    • Swift Palm (快掌)
    • Stone Wielding Palm (握石掌)
    • One Clap Two Scatters (一拍兩散)
  • Finger styles:
    • Indian Buddha Finger (天竺佛指)
    • Maha Finger (摩诃指)
    • Duoluoye Finger (多羅葉指)
    • Wuxiang Jie Finger (無相劫指)
    • Flower Pinching Finger (拈花指)
    • Great Strength Vajra Finger (大力金剛指)
    • Great Wisdom Wuding Finger (大智無定指)
    • One Finger Zen (一指禪)
  • Grappling styles:
    • Great Strength Vajra Grab (大力金剛抓)
    • Eagle Claw (鷹爪手)
    • Nirvana Grab (寂滅抓)
    • Indra Grab (因陀羅抓)
    • Tiger Claw (虎爪手)
    • Dragon Claw (龍爪手)
    • Grabbing Hand (擒拿手)
    • Big Grabbing Hand (大擒拿手)
    • Small Grabbing Hand (小擒拿手)
    • Flower Pinching Grabbing Hand (拈花擒拿手)
    • Shaolin Eighteen Styles Grabbing Hand (少林擒拿十八打)
  • Sword styles:
    • Arhat Swordplay (羅漢劍法)
    • Skanda Evil Subduing Swordplay (韋馱伏魔劍)
    • Bodhidharma Swordplay (達摩劍法)
  • Saber styles:
    • Evil Subduing Saber Style (降魔刀法)
    • Burning Wood Saber Style (燃木刀法)
  • Staff styles:
    • Evil Subduing Staff Style (伏魔杖法)
    • Evil Suppressing Staff Style (降魔杖法)
    • Wild Demon Staff Style (瘋魔杖法)
    • Small Yaksha Staff Style (小夜叉棍)
    • Big Yaksha Staff Style (大夜叉棍)
    • Obtaining the Scriptures Staff Style (取經棍法)
  • Inner energy skills:
    • Vajra Evil Subduing Divine Skill (金剛伏魔神通)
    • Vajra Body Defending Divine Skill (金剛不壞體神功)
    • Yijin Jing (易筋經)
    • Nine Yang Divine Skill (九陽神功)
    • Arhat Evil Subduing Divine Skill (羅漢伏魔神功)
    • Pona Skill (破衲功)
    • Cassock Evil Subduing Skill (袈裟伏魔功)
  • Others:
    • Dragon Capturing Hand (擒龍手)
    • Golden Bell Shield (金鐘罩)
    • Iron shirt (鐵布衫)
    • Pārami Hand (波羅蜜手)
    • Vajra Zen Lion Roar (金剛禪獅子吼)
    • Shadowless Formless Legs (如影隨形腿)
    • Great Skanda Mace (大韋馱杵)
  • Battle formations:
    • Great Arhat Formation (羅漢大陣)
    • Vajra Evil Subduing Ring (金剛伏魔圈)
    • Arhat Sword Formation (羅漢劍陣)

Discontinued use of the name "Shaolin" in television series

The term "Shaolin Sect" is no longer used in television series adapted from Louis Cha's wuxia novels. In The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber (2009), an adaptation of the novel of the same title, the Shaolin Sect is referred to as the "Monks' Sect" (僧人派). In Swordsman (2013), an adaptation of The Smiling, Proud Wanderer, Shaolin Monastery is referred to as "Lingjiu Monastery" (靈鷲寺; lit. "Divine Eagle Monastery"). Although some viewers have expressed dissatisfaction over the changes, the reasons behind the renaming are not made clear to the public. Some people believe that the producers wanted to avoid trademark infringement, since Shaolin Monastery has officially registered its name "Shaolin" as a trademark and has been involved in lawsuits with commercial companies over the use of "Shaolin" as a brand name or trademark.

 

Notes

  • Cha, Louis. The Smiling, Proud Wanderer (笑傲江湖). Ming Pao, 1967.
  • Cha, Louis. Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils (天龍八部). Ming Pao, 1963.
  • Cha, Louis. The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber (倚天屠龍記). Ming Pao, 1961.
  • Cha, Louis. The Deer and the Cauldron (鹿鼎記). Ming Pao, 1969.
  • http://bbs.tiexue.net/post2_3936892_1.html
  • http://game.163.com/special/jianzheng_52/"Shaolin temple fights to protect trademark". timesofindia-economictimes.

 

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