Shaolin Kempo Chuan Fa

The roots
It all began in India
Fighting has always been an important element of mankind. First singular techniques, which allowed to conquer an opponent, were developed. These techniques were combined to whole systems of techniques that were handed down from generation to generation by families or tribes. In ancient kultures these fighting systems became martial arts, which also stress a religious impact. One of these acient martial arts is Kalari-Payat ("battlefield training"), which roots in the province Kerala (southern India) at about 2500 - 1700 bc .
Kalari-Payat like Hinduism, which came up at the same time, includes the principles of creation, conservation and destruction as well as the principle of polarity (principle of yin and yang). So it was not only meant for hurting but also for healing. This can be easily understood when you realize that the knowledge of the anatomy and function of nerve centers and organs is important for killing as well as for curing. Kalari-Payat was strongly influenced by Indogerman tribes that invaded India around 1500 bc . These tribes had superior weapones and weapon techniques at their disposal. Nowadays these weapon techniques play an important role in Kalari-Payat. However, a much bigger influence came from Buddhism, which dates back to 500 bc .

The way to China: Bodhidharma
Bodhidharma (Chin.: Ta Mo; Jap.: Daruma) was the third child of king Suganda of Madras (southern India). As he was a member of the caste of warriors, he also was a master of the Indian martial art Vajramushti, which is linked to Kalari-Payat. Moreover he was a scholar of the Dhyana Buddhism and became the 28th patriarch of the Indian Buddhism. When his master deceased, he wanted to spread his apprenticeship to other countries and moved to China. After having met the emperor Wu-Di (Liang dynasty), he settled down in the Shaolin Monastery, which is situated in the province of Henan (northern China).

Bodhidharma in China
In the monastery, Bodhidharma lived ascetically and by meditating for 9 years developed the Ch'an Buddhism (Jap.: Zen Buddhism). When he tried to teach this Ch'an Buddhism, which contains elements of Dhyana Buddhism and Taoism, he realized that his apprentices did not have the mental and physical shape to really meditate. That's why he developed certain gymnastics and breathing techniques in order to enable his students to reach enlightenment (Chin.: wu) and find the path to the heart of Buddha. His "muscle exercises" were surely influenced by Bodhidharma's experiences with his Indian martial arts. The "muscle exercises" and the "18 hands of lohan", which were developed later on, are however the basis for nowaday's Shaolin Kempo.

Developments in China
The "middle ages"
After Bodhidharma died, his apprenticeship of the 24 muscle exercises and the 18 hands of lohan slowly faded over the years. Only the Ch'an Buddhism remained. However, when the famous boxing champion Yen (monk Chueh Yuan) came to the Shaolin Monastery in the 13th century, he revived Bodhidharma's apprenticeship.
He was not only a boxer (the old Chinese boxing-style, which is very different from nowadays boxing), but also a master of the old Chinese self-defense. He increased the number of exercises to 72. This was the time when the "fighting monks" of the Shaolin Monastery became known all over China. Chueh Yuan roamed the country recruiting other fighters in order to teach them and learn from them. These monks finally settled down in the Shaolin Monastery in the province of Fujian (southern China). The number of exercises was increased to 181. Additionally 5 animal-styles, which are a basis for the techniques of nowadays Shaolin Kempo, were developed.

The 5 animal-styles
Dragon-, snake-, tiger-, leopard- and crane-style are the classic animal-styles that make up Shaolin Kempo. These styles adapt to the basic motorics of these animals in order to invent new strategies of attack and defense. The dragon-style is the most widespread of all those styles. It combines nearly weightless, light movements of the body with precise movements of the limbs, which should be extremely fast and thus powerful. The snake-style extraordinarily stresses deep breathing. All stances are very low, allowing to quickly strike with fingertips or palms in order to precisely hit vulnerable parts of the opponent's body. The tiger-style obviously is the most brute animal-style. It stresses powerful hit and scratching techniques, which are performed with the tiger's claw (i.e. a half-opened fist). The related leopard-style features lower stances and faster (but less powerful) movements and strikes. Finally the crane-style features high, preferably one-legged stances requiring well-balanced movements. All strikes are circular, fast and thus powerful.

Kempo in Europe
Dschero Khan Chen Tao
Dschero Khan Chen Tao was born in Mongolia in 1928. Growing up when the Chinese-Japanese war reached its climax, he developed a martial art he called "Shaolin Kempo". He lived in several monasteries when he was a child and was also influenced by the Japanese grand-masters Gogen Yamaguchi (Go-Jo Ryu Karate) and Nakano Michiomi (Shorinji-Kempo). After emigrating to the Netherlands in 1956 he changed his name to Gerald Karel Meijers and started instructing the first Chan-Shaolin-Siâ groups.

Kempo in Germany
Hermann Scholz and Hans Stresius were the first Germans to study Si Fu G. K. Meijers' Shaolin Kempo in the Netherlands. They introduced Shaolin Kempo to German groups. In succession of these groups the German Wushu Federation e.V. was founded in 1988. Since 1966 Si Fu G. K. Meijers regularly gave courses in NRW/Germany. That is where our former trainer learned Shaolin Kempo. However, our group originates from several years of training with Si Fu G. K. Meijers' apprentices.