Gong Fu or Kung Fu literally means “hard work done over a period of time”. Sil Lum (or Shaolin) Kung Fu is a Chinese martial art that originated in Shaolin temples hundreds of years ago. Although the exact origins are difficult to trace, the birth of Sil-Lum Kung Fu is usually accredited to the Buddhist monk Boddhidharma (picture below) who introduced the 18 Lohan movements to Shaolin monks as a form of exercise.
These movements eventually gave rise to the five animal styles hat Kung Fu is famous for: Crane, Leopard, Tiger, Snake and Dragon. Practitioners of any of these styles mimic the movements and assume the fighting spirit of the animal. For example, the Tiger system teaches clawing techniques and courage.
Additional styles subsequently developed, these are the Praying Mantis, Eagle and Monkey systems. Kung Fu was originally taught only to Shaolin monks. The Monks could not leave the temple until they passed a life or death test. Graduates were well known for there fighting prowess. The modern Kung-Fu student is no longer put to such extremes, but nonetheless, has inherited a powerful fighting art laced with a philosophy emphasizing peace and respect for life.