Shaolin Monastery and its famed Pagoda Forest were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.
Shaolin Kungfu is taught mainly by oral formulas handed down from generation to generation. In history, the recognition of inheritors of Shaolin Kungfu was based on the patriarchal clan system of Shaolin temple. In the process of teaching and learning Shaolin Kungfu, it is necessary for masters to teach disciples by personal example as well as oral instruction and for disciples to study diligently.
The inheritance of high level Shaolin Kungfu always depends on the teaching and oral instruction of masters as well as disciples’ spiritual comprehension of Chan Buddhism. To reach such level of Kungfu, monks have to improve themselves on both daily Chan studies and Kungfu practices. The idea behind Shaolin Kungfu is the belief in the combination of Chan and martial arts.
Shaolin Kungfu is presented with the movement of the human body such as attack, defense and wrestling as its core and the series as its basic units. Series are made up of a group of movements. The design and arrangements of these movements are based on the medical knowledge of ancient China and conforms to the rule of movement of the human body. Movements and series put special emphasis on the combination of movement and stillness, the balance between Yin and Yang, the complement of toughness and softness, and the inclusion of the spirit and the form.
The most well-known principle is "Six Harmonies", composed of the three external harmonies (shoulders and hip, elbows and knees, hands and feet) and the three external harmonies (mind and intention, intention and Qi, Qi and force). The ancient Chinese belief in "the unity of human and nature" suggests that only those movements that fit the natural structure of the human body can be called proper. Shaolin Kungfu has long been tested by history, during which it has kept its Chan Buddhist essence while weeding out from itself what was undesirable while continually undergoing change and self-reformation. As a result, Shaolin Kungfu gives full play to the potential of the human body and has achieved an optimal form of movement for the human body which allows room for its practitioners to develop and thrive.