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group of Asian women practicing kung fu in an open courtyard

CEB505 Philosophy of Shaolin Kung-Fu

Time limit: 112 days
4 credits

$200 Enroll

Full course description

In this rapidly evolving world, people are overwhelmed with distractions, mixed purposes, clashing ideals, media saturation, and cultural crossover. How do you, as a sport professional, build a foundation that can keep up with this whirlwind of global change? Of the many foundations available to build from in the world, there is one that has continued to grow and improve over the 1500 years since its inception. Few disciplines have proven to be so longstanding, demanding, and universally admired as China’s Shaolin kung-fu.

While most people think “kung-fu” refers to the martial art that we see performed in movies by actors such as Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, or Bruce Lee, the term kung-fu means something somewhat different. Kung-fu translates from the Chinese as anything achieved through hard work, practice, and discipline. So when we refer to Shaolin kung-fu, we are describing the practice and discipline of Shaolin. The martial art, or “wushu”, we think of as kung-fu is merely one part of that discipline. There are many different versions of wushu in China, so what makes Shaolin the most respected of all these?

To understand the development of Shaolin into a unique and unmatched system, an overview of the history and evolution of the philosophy of the Shaolin Temple in Henan province, China is necessary. History can show that from the practical demands of everyday life spring the tools and practices of the modern philosophy.

Within Shaolin kung-fu, there are three major areas of study: mental, physical, and spiritual. The goal of training is to achieve a complete balance among these three areas. Achieving this balance is a goal that can be beneficial not just to athletes, but to anyone seeking a healthier mind and body.

In most cases, there are no clear divisions between the mental, the physical, and the spiritual. 

For this course, the core text is the newly translated version of Secrets of the Shaolin Temple: Martial Arts and Medicine Scrolls. The Academy is indebted to Chinese Great Grandmaster Abbot Shi Yongxin of the Shaolin Temple on Songshan, 嵩山, (Song Mountain) and to American Grandmaster Steve DeMasco of New Hampshire for making this cultural treasure available. It is a rare privilege to be able to study directly from this precious and important manuscript.

After completing this course, you should have a greater understanding of the history, development, and elements that constitute the Shaolin philosophy. You should also be able to apply principles from the teachings to your own life and to the training that you share with others. From this course, you can create your own kung-fu, your own excellence through hard work and discipline.