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Thread: So is Bodhidharma just a fable?

  1. #11
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    well you certainly seem to know what you're talking about, so i'll take your word for it.

    indian influence on the martial arts would at least serve as an explanation for why there was a bodhidharma fable in the first place. are there any clues as to why that might have come about? obscure political reasons maybe?

  2. #12
    Well, no one is saying he didn't exist at all,
    he might very well have sparked off the Ch'an sect of Bhuddism,
    just that he wasn't associated with Shaolin
    until centuries later.

    The stuff attributed to him can be found elsewwhere in China.
    The Shaolin "chapter" of the Ch'an Sect had much cross influence with
    Taoism. Shaolin and the Ch'an sect is really a hybrid of Bhuddism and Taoism.

    1 - Muscle Tendon Changing / Brain- Marrow Cleansing exercises are identical to Taoist
    excercizes that were documented were very ancient.
    2. 18 Lohan - as a chi gung this is unique to Shaolin, as self defense moves, they
    are a mixture of Shai Jiao and Boxing, both were things that military people had to rank high in
    in order to get promoted or even keep their positions.

  3. #13
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    Originally posted by Sal Canzonieri
    Well, no one is saying he didn't exist at all,
    he might very well have sparked off the Ch'an sect of Bhuddism,
    just that he wasn't associated with Shaolin
    until centuries later.
    so are you saying that certain martial techniques originated in shaolin, but not ch'an buddhism? if so, it would seem that the linking of ch'an buddhism and the legend of bodhidharma with shaolin martial arts is mostly an invention to lend credibility to shaolin gongfu.

  4. #14
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    I think it's probable that Da Mo did indeed teach the monks some Qigong. In fact, since he was a sage, he has to have been a Neigong master anyway, so why wouldn't he teach them anything?

    Shaolin methods in general are more fire based compared to similar Taoist methods. There is a lot of stuff like holding the breath, locking certain body parts, packing etc which is more common in Indian Yogic practices than in Taoist systems. Lao Tsu can't be the only Taoist who decided to travel west of the border. Da Mo may have been exposed to Taoist practices earlier in his life and combined them with Indian methods to develop his own techniques.

  5. #15
    Originally posted by emre
    I think it's probable that Da Mo did indeed teach the monks some Qigong. In fact, since he was a sage, he has to have been a Neigong master anyway, so why wouldn't he teach them anything?

    Shaolin methods in general are more fire based compared to similar Taoist methods. There is a lot of stuff like holding the breath, locking certain body parts, packing etc which is more common in Indian Yogic practices than in Taoist systems. Lao Tsu can't be the only Taoist who decided to travel west of the border. Da Mo may have been exposed to Taoist practices earlier in his life and combined them with Indian methods to develop his own techniques.
    Well, sorry, but have you actually done any research on Da Mo?
    There are very very few mentions of him anywhere in real historical items.
    The most that was found was that he was a green/blue eyed prince from Persia (Iraq) and that he studied
    Buddism and he disiked the way that the religion had changed over time to become all ritual and no substance.

    He wasn't mentioned as connected to Shaolin until the Ming Dynasty.
    None of the ancient Shaolin manuals that were still around by then had any mention of him anywhere.
    None of the these even mentioned anything about brain-marrow cleansing and so on in their chi-gungs.

    No where is it said he did anything other than he came to Shaolin and sat in Za-zen position for years.

    When you say "he was a sage so that makes him a neigung master anyway" that sounds like you just picked that up from hearing other people say it. Where is there a rule that every sage is a neigung master?

    Yes, Shaolin seems to be more fire, but there are a lot of fire chi gungs in Taoism too.
    Certainly there were people coming from India / etc to China and many temples let people come and lecture and give seminars on their sect's ideas. Many people were going back and forth, so who knows who brought what over.

    Sun Lu Tang's books mention that Xing Yi comes from Shaolin and Shaolin comes from Muscle Tendoning Changing and Brain-Marrow Cleansing exercises and these come from Da Mo.
    But he was making an observation that the final conclusion was based on what was common "thought" of the times.
    Yes, inside the Lohan forms built in there is these Chi-gungs, that is apparent when you do them, but they don't have any proof that it was Da Mo that devised them.

  6. #16
    Originally posted by zachsan
    so are you saying that certain martial techniques originated in shaolin, but not ch'an buddhism? if so, it would seem that the linking of ch'an buddhism and the legend of bodhidharma with shaolin martial arts is mostly an invention to lend credibility to shaolin gongfu.
    Mostly Shaolin was known for staff technigues in ancient times and simple Lohan forms.
    All the forms that came into being now known as Shaolin are all traced back to the
    Sung Dynasty, to Abbott Fu Yu.

  7. #17
    Oh, no I am not saying Ch'an sect wasn't from Shaolin, I am saying Shaolin boxing was not from Da Mo and neither were the main nei-gungs of Lohan Shaolin.
    These came from other sources.

    He might have preached Ch'an Sectarianism there, and from that it developed.

  8. #18
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    well ok, but that still leaves open the question of why da mo has become such an iconic figure in martial arts, gongfu especially. while i'm sure this could simply be a mistake and constant repetition of that mistake, it seems more likely (to me) that it's a classic case of the chinese habit of attaching styles to certain well-regarded historical figures after the fact to lend credibility. (sorry if that sentence didn't make sense.)

    in other words, you seem very knowledgeable on the history of the legend, i was just wondering if you knew anything we didn't about the reasons.

  9. #19
    Originally posted by zachsan
    well ok, but that still leaves open the question of why da mo has become such an iconic figure in martial arts, gongfu especially. while i'm sure this could simply be a mistake and constant repetition of that mistake, it seems more likely (to me) that it's a classic case of the chinese habit of attaching styles to certain well-regarded historical figures after the fact to lend credibility. (sorry if that sentence didn't make sense.)

    in other words, you seem very knowledgeable on the history of the legend, i was just wondering if you knew anything we didn't about the reasons.
    Well, during the Ming and Ching it was the "rage" to attribute your writings to ancient people to give it the force of their endorsment. Most books from then did this. It was a marketing ploy, plain and simple.

    Somehow somewhere it was benefiting someone to say that Damo developed the Shaolin martial arts.

    Also, one thing that might be a factor, Shaolin arts were being introduced into Japan and
    the Japanese while loving the techinques might not have loved that they were coing from China.
    So, they might have sugar coated Shaolin with having an Indian origin, so that might China only the relay to Japan.

  10. #20
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    it's funny, you usually see the political manipulations of the chinese and japanese as being contradictory to each other. when they combine, it's not so hard to imagine them rewriting history...

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