American actor and Jeet Kune Do martial artist, Jason Scott Lee, enters a shaolin temple to train with Shaolin on a personal pilgrimage and documents his experiences.
The Shaolin Monastery or Shaolin Temple (Chinese: 少林寺; pinyin: Shàolín Sì) is a Chan Buddhist temple in Dengfeng county, Zhengzhou, Henan province, China. The name refers to the forests (林; lín) of Shaoshi (少室; Shǎo Shì) mountain, one of the seven peaks of Song mountains (嵩山; Sōng Shān). Dating back 1,500 years, Shaolin Temple is the main temple of the Shaolin school of Buddhism to this day.
Shaolin Monastery and its Pagoda Forest were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010 as part of the "Historic Monuments of Dengfeng."
The first Shaolin Monastery abbot was Batuo (also called Fotuo or Buddhabhadra) a dhyana master who came to China from India or from Greco-Buddhist Central Asia in 464 AD to spread Buddhist teachings.
According to the Continued Biographies of Eminent Monks (645 AD) by Daoxuan, Shaolin Monastery was built on the north side of Shaoshi, the central peak of Mount Song, one of the Sacred Mountains of China, by Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Wei Dynasty in 477 AD. Yang Xuanzhi, in the Record of the Buddhist Monasteries of Luoyang (547 AD), and Li Xian, in the Ming Yitongzhi (1461), concur with Daoxuan's location and attribution. The Jiaqing Chongxiu Yitongzhi (1843) specifies that this monastery, located in the province of Henan, was built in the 20th year of the Taihe era of the Northern Wei Dynasty, that is, the monastery was built in 495 AD.
The Kangxi Emperor of the Qing Dynasty was a supporter of Shaolin Temple, and he wrote the calligraphic inscriptions that still hang over the Heavenly King Hall and the Buddha Hall today.
Traditionally Bodhidharma is credited as founder of the martial arts at the Shaolin Temple. However, martial arts historians have shown this legend stems from a 17th-century qigong manual known as the Yijin Jing.