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Shaolin kung fu needs protection
Updated: 2004-06-10 09:09

Shaolin culture, including the martial arts, needs to be preserved and should be listed as a United Nations world heritage, said Wang Wenzhang, director of the China Arts Institute.

Young monks from Shaolin Temple of Central China's Henan Province: "Soaring in the sky." [China Daily/file]
Shaolin culture -incorporating Zen Buddhism, martial arts, medical sciences and art - is a major part of Chinese culture, he said.

Shaolin's cultural legacy has accumulated over 1,500 years, said Shi Yongxin, master of the Shaolin Temple. The temple, in central Henan Province, is widely regarded as the cradle of Shaolin boxing and Zen Buddhism.

The temple was built in 495 AD in the period of the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-581 AD). It is now in the Songshan mountain area in Dengfeng.

The ancient Shaolin transcripts documented 708 sets of so-called kung fu, including practices aimed at building the body's internal organs and medication methods.

Shaolin boxing, as part of the Shaolin kung fu heritage, basically serves religious and cultural purposes and should not be separated from the spirit of Buddhism, Shi said.

The shaolin master told Xinhua that the temple has been trying to protect the authentic Shaolin spirit from being violated and misused for commercial purposes in recent years by popularizing the conception that Shaolin monks practice kung fu as a method of strengthening their inner self as demanded by Buddhist doctrines.

Master shi agreed with the idea of listing Shaolin culture as a UN world heritage.

He said being listed as a world heritage would help protect Shaolin kung fu and other aspects associated with it.

The temple has even organized international seminars and created Shaolin kung fu plays and cartoons to more clearly position the martial art within the Buddhist framework.

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