The Shaolin 18 Lohan Hands is a set of qigong exercises attributed to the Very Venerable Bodhidharma. Legend has it that he found the monks of the Shaolin Temple too weak for the rigours of spiritual cultivation and so taught them a set of qigong exercises that became known as the 18 Lohan Hands.
- 18 – Because there are 18 qigong exercises in the set
- Lohan – followers of the Buddha Siddhartha Guatama (18 of which were specially honoured when Buddhism spread from India to China)
- Hands – here in the Chinese language refers to techniques or patterns.
These qigong exercises enabled the monks to develop strong healthy bodies and minds and allowed them to progress more successfully with their spiritual cultivation.
The Shaolin Temple gained great prestige during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) when Shaolin Warrior monks saved the life of Li Shimin, founder of the dynasty as he fought to attain the Imperial throne when the Sui Dynasty came to an end (AD 581-618).
Once Li Shimin established the Tang Dynasty he rewarded the Shaolin monks by allowing them to organise an army that could be used in time of need. It is recorded that by the Yuan Dynasty (AD 1271 – 1368) the Shaolin Temple counted more than 2000 Warrior monks, all masters in Shaolin Kung Fu.
It’s interesting to note that the set of qigong exercises called the 18 Lohan Hands later evolved into the 18 Lohan Fist – a kung fu set that was the prototype of Shaolin Kung Fu. You may wonder how a set of qigong exercises became the basis for a martial art. Well, remember that the Shaolin Temple was an imperial temple. Not just any body could go there. Many of the monks were retired generals and high ranking government officials. Who after having fulfilled their duties to the country went to end their days in contemplation and spiritual cultivation. Many of them were already highly skilled martial artists.
Just a quick aside here. It is a common misconception that Kung Fu originated from the Shaolin Temple. This simply is not true. Systematized fighting arts, based on real battlefield experiences, were already well established. Let’s be honest mankind has been fighting since the very dawn of time. What the Shaolin Temple represented was a place where for the first time different fighting systems could by directly compared. Add to this mix a highly powerful set of qigong exercises and the result was inevitable!
The Shaolin Temple has left us with an invaluable legacy known as the Three Treasures of Shaolin. They are:
- Shaolin Qigong
- Shaolin Kung Fu
I teach all 18 of the Shaolin 18 Lohan Hands Qigong Set online in my 22 week Qigong Secrets Home Study Course (QSHSC). It allows you to practice at your own pace in the privacy and comfort of your own home.
You can get a two-week ‘test drive’ of the QSHSC for only $4.95 by visiting:
Marcus James Santer