Origins Of The Martial Arts
The Modern Era
The Present And The Future
Origins of the Martial Arts
The origins of the martial arts are unclear as so much knowledge and history has been passed on by way of oral tradition. It is safe to say that virtually every culture throughout the world has had in their past the need to defend themselves physically. As a result there are likely many origins and not a single source of the martial arts. At SHAKU Family Martial Arts we trace our roots back some 1500 years when an Indian yogic named Bodhidharm (Ta-Mo in Chinese) is reported to have introduced the benefits of mental focus in aiding one’s attainment of peace of mind to a group of pacifist monks in the Hunan province of China. Unfortunately these monks, later to be revered as the Shaolin Temple Monks, were in such poor health that they were unable to reap the mental benefits of the meditation exercises due to their inability to sit comfortably for extended periods. It is legend that Bodhidharma thus developed a series of exercises (based on the movements of animals) to improve the cardiovascular, strength and flexibility of the monks. These exercises later evolved into applications of self-defense that the monks used to ward of bandits and enemies. This is referred to as the five animal systems of Kung-Fu and is generally regarded as the forerunner of many modern day martial arts.
Eventually, the government of the day destroyed the Shaolin Temple fearing that it gave refuge to enemies of the emperor who posed the additional threat of being well trained fighters. The details of this legendary history are debatable. It is clear that fighting skills were widespread in China long before the founding of the Shaolin Temple. Nonetheless, the Shaolin Temple represents a first organized attempt to blend fighting techniques with moral and spiritual principals in an effort to understand violence and to deal with it in ways that best promote the virtues of compassion and peace. SHAKU Family Martial Arts is committed to continuing this philosophy by emphasizing personal growth and development and the avoidance of violence whenever possible.
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"Kempo" is also a key word for understanding the history of our tradition. Kempo is Japanese translation of the Chinese "Chuan-fa" or "way of the fist", and describes a kind of training similar to karate, also stressing personal development. It is possible that increased Japanese contact with China in the early seventh century opened the way for the transmission of martial arts techniques of Japan. A further theory suggests that Japanese soldiers also brought Kempo techniques back from China during a war at the end of the sixteenth century. But Kempo is also especially important to our history because of how it was adapted for the modern West by James Mitose, a Japanese American from Hawaii who at an early age, was sent to Japan where he received instructions in Kempo, learning also of its derivation from the Shaolin Temple. Mitose returned to Hawaii where he founded a martial arts club in 1942. Mitose's Kempo system (sometimes confusingly spelled "Kenpo") was handed on to his most important student, William K.S. Chow. Briefly, Mitose's system was taught in the practitioner's language rather than Japanese, and adaptation of techniques was recommended to suit the different needs of individuals.
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William K.S. Chow inherited Mitose's system, adapting it and passing it on to Ed Parker, another Hawaiian. Parker conducted a thorough and intricate analysis of the knowledge he received classifying it in detail and producing manuals of instructions. Parker also stressed the practical use of martial art in self-defense and divided his system into three main categories: forms, self-defense techniques and freestyle sparring. Parker also founded the International Karate Championships (1964), which, through the involvement of Bruce Lee, helped to popularize martial arts in the United States.
Transmission of the Kempo tradition to Canada occurred in part through Olaf Simon, who studied Ed Parker's system, combining it with elements of other styles. Ed O'Brien was trained as an instructor in Simon's schools and from 1979-84, he taught in Edmonton, Vancouver and Calgary. In 1985, he founded Kung-Fu Canada in Quebec before moving to Victoria, BC in 1989. It is here that
Cathal Walsh and Bob Holland studied and earned their Black Belts pursuing the establishment of their own schools on Vancouver
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In an age when martial arts has shifted to a focus on fighting for sport, SHAKU Family Martial Arts schools are committed to the root philosophies of the martial arts—personal growth and development and the promotion of health and well being for oneself and others. Over the past decade, our martial arts schools have positively impacted the lives of thousands of students. We now have set goals to bring those benefits to many more children, adults and families in communities
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