The Shaolin Temple was established over 1,500 years ago in the Northern Wei Dynasty (495). The Indian Putidamo (Damo/Bodhidarma) arrived in China through Guangzhou, where he later traveled to the Shaolin Temple. There he meditated facing a wall for nine years after which he established the Chan (Zen) Buddhism. He was the first patriarch of Chinese Chan (Zen) Buddhism. The Shaolin Temple thus became the principal temple for Chan Buddhism in China.
At the beginning of the Tang Dynasty (618 -907), thirteen monks from the Shaolin temple fought for the Tang Dynasty. The emperor Tang Tai Zong rewarded them for their achievements. Under the support of Tang Tai Zong and future Tang emperors, the Shaolin Temple experienced massive expansion. During one period there were over 2,000 monks including a huge gathering of enlightened monks. The Shaolin Temple became the Tang Dynasty's royal family temple and was given the name "Tian Xia Di Yi Ming Cha" (China's number one ancient monastery) by the emperor; this name endures to the present.
The growth of Shaolin continued with subsequent dynasties so that by the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Shaolin Kung Fu was known all over China. The emperor of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) also thought highly of the Shaolin temple. The Qing emperor Kang Xi (1662-1723) wrote and gave the Shaolin temple the plaque with the calligraphy "Shaolin Temple", which still hangs over the temple gates today.
At the end of the Qing dynasty and founding of the Republic of China (1912), the Shaolin temple was severely damaged and declined with the passage of time.
Despite its ups and downs, the Shaolin temple still stands majestically today on Song Mountain.
In 1963, the government of Hunan province declared the Shaolin Temple a historically protected site.
In 1983, the department of State declared the Shaolin Temple a major temple in China.
As it has been for years, on a daily basis, a large number of people can be seen learning Chan Buddhism and practicing Shaolin martial arts. So once again, the Shaolin temple has become famous.
In order to spread the knowledge of Chinese culture and authentic Shaolin Chan Buddhism, Abbot Shi Yong Xin formed a martial arts demonstration team which he led. Because of this, the Shaolin temple has become more known and prosperous. Shi Yong Xin and his team have been invited to many countries for cultural exchanges where they have been welcomed enthusiastically and have left a great impression.
Shaolin Kung Fu has a very long, broad and profound history. Practicing Shaolin Kung Fu can improve one's health, cure sickness and weakness, create a more positive mental state and be used for self defense. The former premier of China Jiang Ze Min once said "Shaolin culture is a legacy for the human race." So Shaolin Kung Fu is not just a precious legacy passed on from the ancient Shaolin monks to the Shaolin temple, but is also a treasure for the whole world.