For many people, Shaolin kungfu (少林功夫, Sil lum quan) has become synonymous with the Chinese Martial Arts. However, in the martial art community it represents a broad category of related styles having a connection to the Shaolin Temple. Today, some people classify these styles by geographic region, such as the "northern" styles (Pek Pai, Bei Pai, 北派) and "southern" styles (Nan Quan, 南拳). Pek Sil Lum (北少林) emphasizes extension in striking, with deep stances, and dynamic kicking methods. Nan Sil Lum (南少林) is characterized by short, fast hand strikes and low kicks. However, such attempts at classifications are mere generalizations. The common thread is that this martial art style must in some way reflect the history and philosophy of the Shaolin temple (少林寺), pay homage to its legendary founder, Bodhidharma (菩提达摩) and observes some Buddhist teachings . 

 1.  Training
 2.  Controversy
 3.  Inspiration
 4.  Styles

Shaolin Training in Ottawa

The Ottawa Chinese Martial Arts Association provides basic training in both Northern and Southern Shaolin Kung Fu. We feel that Northern Shaolin basics are idea for training kicking techniques while the Southern Shaolin system provides a comprehensive introduction to the hand strikes and rooting power. Our single moving kicking techniques are modified from the Northern style of Tan Tui (彈腿) and the basic horse stance form is a modified Southern Shaolin form.

We do not teach the standard competition style Northern and Southern Wushu forms. There are clubs in the Ottawa region that teaches those forms.  Our intermediate to advance students specializes is encourage to specialize in a traditional style such as Baiji or Hong Gar rather then continuing in a purely Wushu curriculum. 



The legend of Bodhidharma and Shaolin kungfu is accepted on faith by the general public and this has lead to some confusion and many controversies. The approach advocated by the Ottawa Chinese Martial Arts Association is to recognize that the popular legend represents a cultural information and not necessary a historical truth. We feel that it is more important to understand the implications of those legends rather then argue on the unnecessary and unverifiable details. The following represents our views on some of the more controversial subjects.

1. Is Bodhidharma the founder of Chinese martial arts? If so, does that mean that Chinese martial arts have a foreign origin?

Ans. No. Bodhidharma is the legendary founder of Shaolin Martial Arts. Shaolin is just one type of Chinese martial art. There are many others with longer histories. Therefore, Chinese martial arts are a unique product of Chinese culture.

2. How can Monks fight and use martial arts? Will it be against the tenets of Buddhism?

Ans. Generally, Monks do not fight. According to legend, Bodhidharma contributed the idea of Internal training to strengthen the body of the monks and later, those Internal training was incorporated into martial arts training. As a result, their martial arts became better. Martial art techniques were introduced by layman through their interactions of the monastery. Shaolin tradition incorporated martial arts training with their Buddhist practice as a way to master them-selves not as a means of combat.

3. Is there really a Southern Shaolin temple?

Ans. The exact location of Southern Shaolin temple has never be identified. The Five elders remain legends describe through oral histories. There are many Kung Fu styles in the South that attribute their origins to a Southern Shaolin temple.

4. The Shaolin Temple is now too commercial and they no longer teach authentic Shaolin kung fu.

Ans. There was great turmoil for the Shaolin temple during the Republican period, the Chinese Civil War and the scourge of the Cultural Revolution. Much history and knowledge was lost. The Chinese government has been trying actively to restore this tradition by including the site as a UNESCO world heritage site. So they are trying their best.


Pictures of the Shaolin Temple and Shaolin monks for inspiration.

 (Front entrance)
  (Rebuilt section) (Mural)
 (Demonstration of hard qigong)  (Demonstration of Tong Zi gong)  (Demonstration in front of Puttin)



Pictures of the people performing different Shaolin Styles for motivation.

Northern Shaolin
 (Eagle claw application)  (Long fist saber)  (Long fist competition jump)
Southern Shaolin
 (Bruce Lee started with Wing Chu)  (Bak Mei defence)  (Typical Hung Gar posture)