"Tell me about the ancient Shaolin texts that were destroyed in 1928."
We all know from the history books that the original sacred Shaolin texts, which essentially compiled all or most of the traditional Shaolin gong fu, Shaolin qi gong, and Shaolin medical theory, were destroyed in the 1928 temple burnings.
But, what most people don't realize, is that their content survived. Here's the abridged story.
There was a monk, who died sometime in the early 1980's, by the name of Shi Yun Xiang. Yun Xiang was a young monk living at the temple before the 1928 burning. He trained not only in gong fu, but, as per the encouragement of his master, he read the ancient Shaolin texts. What most of the monks of that time didn't know, is that Yun Xiang was spending some of his time copying these ancient texts.
By the time of the 1928 burning, Yun Xiang had most, if not all, of the ancient texts copied. He had hid them in his quarters in the Shaolin temple. When the temple was attacked, Yun Xiang took some of his copies of the texts, and escaped. Some other portions of his texts were given to some of his closest disciples, who also escaped and hid. In this way, the copies of the ancient texts were essentially distributed to a few, who hid them in various areas in China. Most of these copies survived.
Shi De Qian, a famous Shaolin grandmaster, and author, plays a significant role in this story. For De Qian also grew up in Shaolin temple, but in the 1940's, long after the texts had been destroyed by the temple burning. Yun Xiang was one of his many masters, and, as such, occasionally got to view the Yun Xiang's copies of the ancient texts. De Qian eventually left Shaolin, after mastering not only the gong fu, but, the Shaolin medicine, to go to XinJiang province in northwestern China. There, he lived for many years, practicing Shaolin Chinese medicine.
Yun Xiang escaped the Shaolin area during the destruction and madness of the Cultural Revolution (1967-1976). He took the copies of the ancient texts with him. He eventually returned to Shaolin in 1980, an old, and, dying, monk.
De Qian also returned to Shaolin in 1980, as did most of Yun Xiang's other disciples. The copies of the texts were returned to their original owner, Yun Xiang. However, Yun Xiang was not in good health, and, upon realizing this, just prior to his death, gave the copies of the texts to De Qian. Shi De Qian has kept the copies to this day.
He is quite the prolific author, having written about 63 different books on all things Shaolin, including gong fu, qi gong, and Shaolin medicine. I had lunch with him during my recent trip (July 2002), during which we discussed many different aspects of his life, and some of his publications. He has written on very large book, a set of four volumes, which essentially is a compilation of all the previous 62 books, which is now known as the veritable bible of Shaolin gong fu. The important thing about this book, is that it essentially copies the text from Yun Xiang's copies of the destroyed ancient Shaolin texts.
Perusing this book, one readily notices that the traditional gong fu that is taught today at the temple, very closely resembles the descriptions of the forms that were originally described in the ancient Shaolin texts.
Ancient Shaolin texts
- Written by: doc