NPC – WHO WE ARE: THE LOHAN
The Ancient Martial Art of Shaolin Lohan Kung Fu
Rite of 35 Chambers
The Lohan Sect (Group or Association) existed in China for over 1,650 years. They were the founders of the “White Lotus Society,” one of the few groups authorized to teach non-Buddhists the secrets of Shaolin Kung Fu.
Shaolin monks were considered among the foremost exponents of Martial Arts (Wushu) in China and abroad. Due to the extreme nature of their training, some practitioners were believed to have gained almost super-human abilities.
“Lohan” is a Chinese word derived from the Sanskrit word “Arhat” which means “worthy one.” There have been many tales and legends regarding who and what the Lohan Sect was. In Northern China Lohan were described to be the “enlightened spirits” from the Honan Shaolin Temple. In Southern China the Lohan were considered to be renegade monks from the Fukien Siu Lum Temple.
Legend states that around 520AD Da´ Mo (Bodhidharma) created Sho Pa Lo Han (18 Postures of Lohan). This set of exercise postures formed the foundation of many of the martial styles established during that era at Shaolin.
According to Buddhist tradition, monks were not allowed to leave the temple(s). How was it that the Buddhist Patriarch Bodhidharma was able to leave his temple in India? Interesting question. This was an interesting problem for the monks Shaolin also. How were they able to leave the temple(s) to conduct charitable missions, recruiting, etc.? The answer is quite simple. In very traditional Chinese fashion the monks of Shaolin created another sect to their order. This sect would be allowed to become the “Wandering Monks of China” heard of in legends and history.
These ´Lohan´ wandered all over feudal China. During those many years, the monks acquired many different styles of Martial Arts. The Shaolin monks were (and still are) considered the foremost experts of Chuan Fa in China but they were not the sole people practicing the Martial Arts.
Also, during the late Ming Dynasty the Shaolin monks became concerned about the changes in their country. They knew that the up and coming Manchurian government would be coming after them. They wanted to teach non-Buddhist the Martial Arts that they had become so famous for to assist in protecting their way of life. Unfortunately, they were left with another problem. Non-Buddhist could not be taught the Martial Arts of their temple. Not without first converting. Therefore they commissioned the Lohan Sect for this task.
This tradition is the foundation of our system. We have many styles integrated into our own that are not solely Shaolin techniques. These sub-styles of the system have been modified with Shaolin philosophy and understanding.
There are 72 confirmed sects from the Shaolin Temples. Within those sects there are many different styles of Martial Arts. Not to mention that with so many people in one country the development of different understandings (systems) will happen.