понедељак, 22. септембар 2014.

Southern Shaolin - Taiwan connection

Southern Shaolin temple was established during the Tang dynasty when warrior monks from Henan Shaolin were deployed to the South to combat piracy. When pirates were defeated the monks remained in support of the local garrison and established the Southern Shaolin Monastery. In time , Southern Shaolin became bigger, more popular and more important than the monastery from Henan province . Southern Shaolin was not only religious center but also a place of art, science, medicine, literacy and martial arts development. For more than a millennium Southern Shaolin flourished developing martial arts all over southern China. After fall of the Ming dynasty Southern Shaolin became a center of the rebellion and under the guidance of 5 elders at one point there was almost million people ready to overcome the Manchu government. One of the 5 elders betrayed his brothers and Manchus , using English artillery destroyed the monastery somewhere between 1647 and 1720. and killed most of the monks. The rest of the elders escaped and scattered all over China in order to avoid capture. These elders founded the most famous southern fighting styles like Wing Chun , Hung Gar, Choi Gar , Mok Gar, White Tiger, Bai Mei ect. Almost all Southern kung fu style trace their origin to Southern Shaolin Temple and 5 elders. There are two common patterns in origin sotries of southern styles, either elders taught their superior martial styles to carefully selected disciples after the destruction of the monastery or style founder learned his superior martial art from the elders before the destruction of the monastery. There are very few southern styles which do not follow this origin story pattern .
This story is one of the most popular kung fu folk stories, it is wildly known and it is completely false. Southern Shaolin never existed, this story was created in the second half of the 19th century by Heaven and Earth society with a specific goal. Heaven and Earth society was one of the largest and oldest anti Manchu secret organization. Secret resistance cells were scattered all over Fujian and Guangdong provinces. Often, these groups operated almost independently not knowing any other secret group and more often not having any trust in other secret groups. In order to prepare all these groups for the upcoming rebellion, leaders of the society needed to give them sense of unity , brotherhood and common goal and the story of the Southern Shaolin was created .This story gave all these secrets groups same origin and same ancestors who suffered same fate making all the members of the organization brothers .

The story its self was, according to some local sources, created in Tainan . There is an old Taoist temple which served as hiding place and secret headquarters for the leaders of the Heaven & Earth society. Tainan was economical and trading center of Taiwan with a lot a traffic of people and goods, on the other hand Taiwan and Tainan were never under strict control of the government. 

                                                                                                    heaven and earth society secret meeting place

That fact allowed members of the secret societies to develop their activities without fear of being capture. Temple is located at Minsheng road , not far from Chihkan tower and complex of several oldest temples in Taiwan.

This location was the heart of the 19th century Taiwan capital , Tainan. Many refugees found safe haven in Tainan during Manchu reign . Low level of government control , small army and police forces and support of the local residents gave opportunity to many people prosecuted on the mainland China to escape and continue their anti dynastic activities. Most of the Taiwan’s territory at the time was without any government control, frontier country ,a “wild west” of China and many political and not only political refugees escaped to Taiwan. Many secret groups activities on the mainland were coordinated and financed from Taiwan. Being an important trade center at the time , again with low government control and often bribery , Tainan offered a lot of opportunities for wide range of illegal but lucrativeactivities . That money was used to support various activities on the mainland . 

 details from the temple
By the end of 19th century Heaven and Earth society launched the “Southern Shaolin” story which became extremely popular and in later years , during the republican period was considered as historical fact. Even today many people believe in the existence of the Southern Shaolin” although there are no evidence to support its existence and it is clearly stated thatstory was created in Tawan .