History of the Northern Shaolin Style

The oral history of the Northern Shaolin Style  relates that 800 years ago the masters of the Shaolin Temple combined five styles previously practiced at the temple into a new style: Northern Shaolin.  The idea was extract the true essence of Shaolin kung fu and to contain it within one system.  The new system had ten hand forms all about the same length and many weapons.

Each generation the current Grandmaster would add a single technique to the system.  No techniques were removed so valuable knowledge would not be lost.  In this way the system grew gradually as each  generation contributed valuable new techniques.  This is one reason the Northern Shaolin system is so diverse and complete, yet still retains a consistent flavor and style.  Today five of the the original ten forms are twice as long as the others.

In the 1700’s the Manchu rulers of China decided the Shaolin temple was a hotbed of revolutionary activity and burned it to the ground killing all but a few monks.  The surviving monks fled into the countryside and taught the villagers who sheltered them.  One of the monks carried the Northern Shaolin system and it was saved from being lost.

Although kept secret for many years the Northern Shaolin system was shared with the public by Grandmaster Ku Yu Cheong.  Grandmaster Ku is famous as being the greatest master of Iron Palm of all time and also as a tremendous fighter.  All current practitioners of Northern Shaolin are deeply indebted to him for his generosity in sharing his art with the public.

Today, although there are many styles of martial arts in Northern China that originated in the Shaolin tradition, these ten forms are the most famous because they exemplify the characteristics of Shaolin Martial arts.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of this awesome style there is a great deal written about Northern Shaolin History in the book Shaolin Number 5 Martial Skill by Rick Wing published by the Jing Mo Association, San Francisco CA  ISBN 0-9771648-0-2.

(Note to the wonderful genius known as Rachel – Please consult the current webpage for pictures and captions for this page.  copy that pages pictures and captions!)