The Shaolin Temple is a Buddhist temple Located in the south of China. Shaolin monks are known as Chinese fighting monks due to the refinement of martial arts that occurs there.

In the past there were two Shaolin temples. One in northern China and one in the south. The northern temple was razed during a revolution for harbouring counter-revolutionariesand only the southern temple exists today. I believe it is in Hunan.

The better known type of Shaolin Kung Fu is the animal styles. Some people may also be familiar with Drunken Boxing.

The legend is that the origin of Shaolin kung fu comes from yoga taught to them by a Buddhist priest from India when he saw the monks were emaciated from lack of food and exercise.

I should note that the Shaolin Temple does not have schools in America.
   Shao-Lin Do is an ancient art and science that teaches how to live well and healthy and, eventually, to become immortal. Incidentally, martial arts are only one component of Shao-Lin Do's four major elements which comprise the arts and science of living well. According to the ancient sages, in order for one to become immortal, one must live to be at least 140 to 160 years old. Because it takes this many years of living for a person's mind to develop and evolve into a higher level of consciousness that his/her body begins to vibrate (wavelength) and eventually attain a state of immortality. Shao-Lin monks understand that there are at least four major elements that constitute longevity: mind, body, herbs and martial arts.
   The novice to the world of martial arts would believe the Shao-lin Temple was a place dedicated to pure Shao-lin fighting. In fact, student monks learned history, manners, customs, tradition, and of course, Buddhist and Taoist philosophies. It did not stop there. Painting, music, medicine, agriculture, cooking and much more were taught along with the martial arts.
   It is important to emphasize over and over again, The monks did not put fighting skills at the top of the list of their learning criteria. In fact, there are a few sayings which depict the monk 's feelings about battle. One states: "To fight is the lowest form of arbitration." Another states, "One who engages in combat has already lost".
   All the arts taught at the Shao-lin Temple were aimed at leading a monk closer to enlightenment as well as using all his skills and knowledge to help others. What in essence makes a monk a Shao-lin monk is all the various types of training taught at the Temple. The martial arts aspect of his training alone did not qualify him to be called a Shao-lin Monk. It was his spiritual development above all else that qualified him as a Shao-lin Monk.
   Not all the monks at Shao-lin Temple chose to learn the martial arts. Some preferred to focus on their spiritual development with little or no interest in martial arts. With or without martial arts training they were still called Shao-lin Temple monks. The only distinction you might hear said, is the term Shao-lin Fighting Monks which indicated they also learned martial arts.
   Still, no matter how much Shao-lin Kung Fu they knew, fighting was to be avoided at all costs. The martial arts training was only a means to help temper the body, not to hurt others. Only when there was no way out would they defend themselves, and even then the amount of force used against them would be returned to the attacker. (The Shao-lin Monk knew to take a human life would mean the losses of his own soul.)

see also;shaolin temple
'Shaolin' is also ghetto-hip slang for Staten Island, the least populous, most suburbanized, and all around trashiest borough of New York City.

The nickname came about several years ago because of the popularity of the Wu-Tang Clan, a generic Asian/kung fu themed rap group that considers the bleak housing projects of Staten Island as its home (although at least one member of the 'Clan,' one 'Ghostface Killa', is really from Steubenville, Ohio). In the course of associating themselves with things vaguely mystical and far eastern, Wu Tang invoked the word/concept 'Shaolin' with sufficient regularity that the name became associated with their home.

"Shaolin" provided a needed short hand for the aspiring young hoodlums and gangstas of Staten Island. Their borough was long associated with white-bred suburbia, even though it is in reality mostly a working class land of white ethnics, and the emergence of a slang term and the Wu Tang ethos to accompany it put them on a par with the other areas of NYC which already had nicknames and reputations: 'Tha Boogie Down' for the Bronx, 'Crooklyn' for Brooklyn, 'The Bridge' or 'Killa Queens' for Queens, and so forth.

Of course slang can only be cutting edge for so long, and now "Shaolin" is also used by sophisticated irony laden NYC hipster urbanites such as myself to mock Staten Island and its lil' gumba gangstas and hair-spray wielding women who insist on roaring their techno-blaring SUVs through our neighborhoods on their way to a night of testing out fake IDs at Manhattan dance clubs.

See also Slang names for places in the New York metro area.

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