As a transporter of culture, it seems logical that the Indian monk Bodhidharma brought more than just Buddhist texts to the Shaolin Temple. India has a wonderful tradition of martial and healing arts that he would have shared at the temple. His rich story throws light on how and why monks throughout Asia have often blended martial arts with their spiritual lives.
Asian countries have unique histories and societies, but also share important elements. A major thread is religion and the mixing with ancient native shamanism and mysticism. We find a blend of Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, Hinduism, and Islam in Asian cultures, which are strongly based in monastic centers. The spread of religious thought is coupled with the spread of knowledge about martial arts. It is part of human nature to find sources to enforce the spiritual, mental, and physical condition. Temples and martial arts are certainly valued for these reasons.
In the first chapter, Michael Spiesbach details the story of Bodhi-dharma. His piece couples nicely with Stanley Henning’s observations from a visit to the Shaolin Temple. Dr. Charles Holcombe details the historic connections Daoism has with martial arts, while Mark Hawthorne discusses the recent state of Daoism and its prospects for the future.
Jerry Shine’s chapter on the sohei shows the influence these warrior monks had in Japanese history. Ken Jeremiah’s chapter looks at the extreme asceticism Japanese monks and warriors practiced to reach their individual goals. Mark Wiley’s chapter deals with mystical elements as sources of power in Indonesian martial arts. In the final chapter, Mark Kelland brings the religious and martial traditions into our present everyday lives.
Authors: Michael Spiesbach, M.A., J.D., Charles Holcombe, Ph.D., Jerry Shine, Mark V. Wiley, Stanley E. Henning, M.A., Mark Hawthorne, Ken Jeremiah, M.A., and Mark D. Kelland, Ph.D.