The Shaolin Tree

The Shaolin Tree

The article The Shaolin Tree is here reprinted and revised by popular demand; updated and revised. The Shaolin Tree was originally published in 2003 and enjoyed a wide acceptance from many dedicated martial arts enthusiasts world-wide; from Europe, to Lebanon, Libya to South Africa, from Canada to South America, from California to Maine.  Reprinted here for your enjoyment.

Once upon a time in the distant past there was a young student. 

He asked his teacher, “Master, there are so many styles that claim to be Shaolin, how can I know which one is best and or even which are the most genuine in that I cannot verify one against the other without doubts and uncertainty?”

Teacher said…

      “This Shaolin Boxing is like a great tree with roots that grow wide and deep. The earth and sky feed and nourish the tree that gives shade to sentient beings. The tree brings forth fruit that in their turn become either food or the offspring of other trees.  It is from heaven and earth and all you see around you; seen and unseen wherein this magnificent Boxing draws its own nourishment. As it is, the tree itself comes from that which is other than itself, as all things have a cause, being that it is dependent upon heaven and earth for its very existence.”

“We can see that the branches of the tree are like the many schools of boxing each one a unique expression of the same; father, son, younger brother, older brother, grandfather, great ancestor all come from the same root, all arise from the same bloodstream and have a family resemblance.  They add beauty, variety, and draw nourishment from the same source.  Each of these is like a special gift and the nourishment that comes from them, are not dependent upon the tree only but also from the air, light, heat, water, earth, and spirit, combined with the toil and suffering inherent in this existence which is all part of the wheel of life.  All things exist within the framework of time and space separated by the seasons; Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Without these there is no tree, no root, and no branches.”  “However the tree cannot exist without the root, but neither can it be called a tree without its branches and leaves and stature. Everything works in consort as part of a complete whole: root, tree, and branches.”

“Without the seed there can be no generation to come and with it the wheel of existence continues from life to death and from life to eternal life.  Look around you and see for yourself.  Is it not true that some seed will fall very near the tree and be consumed by the tree itself as it is, for being too close and therefore cannot have independent life?  The seed cannot take root and live separately in exactly the same way as a lesser light is swallowed up by a greater light.  The nature of living things however teaches us that life allows for other seed to be carried away by the wind or by means of sentient beings that venture close to the tree, its branches, and its root and thus take from the tree some of its original nature and carry it to a different place nearby or far away so as to have its own existence apart from the original tree, established in its own root and branches.”

“Seeds that take root in another place will grow into a similar tree for the same reason that children resemble their parents but are unique in that they possess their own life and their own ways; sometimes even surpassing the glory of the parent. As with all sentient life and organic things even of the same family, there are variations in form, intent, and disposition; however, the origin is the same.  Although each face is different it is also possessing the blood and bone that originates from the very bloodstream of life so thus there is undeniably a common heritage and inheritance.  Even so it has its origin in the same tree, where there is a different kind it can be explained by the grafting of one tree with another to produce something unique.  It does not matter whether we refer to the Oak, the Maple, the Redwood, or any other kind of shrub, tree, plant, or animal.  This is the truth that belongs to the immutable principle, “each its own kind”.

“A new tree has its own life. The old tree already has the full measure of its own life that belongs to it. In order for there to be a new life in the old tree new branches must be grafted onto the old tree and the old tree will have to accept the graft. If the graft is not accepted then the life of the tree is unchanged and the new life is rejected. The new tree however, has not yet possessed the full measure of its life, which is yet to come, therefore it has an independent life, not in its origin but in its development.”

The Master said…

“Walk beside me now and we shall go down from this place where the cool mist rises in the morning and where the vital manna of life embraces our being and we will go on to enter into the village nearby and conduct commerce where controversy and self-interest exist as men trade and struggle for advantage one against another.”

“You, like many, want a simple and direct answer.  Who is to say about these things, every history known to man is a historical fiction.  It is not well-known that the deep origins of Shaolin Boxing are not Chinese but have their origins in the great land and subcontinent of India and was not called by the name of Shaolin but by the name of the Vajra-mukti (Lightning Fist) as this is also the source of Buddhism. It’s true history is vast and very complicated.  Knowledge of the past is controlled by those who control the present.  Very little of it is easy to grasp but can be known only by walking the path. That path is the Dharma of practice.”

The path we embrace by the Wujido is about shedding that which does not serve to further, to remove limitation, that which has no virtue, and removing weakness. It is not so much about adding things, although this might not be easily perceived in the beginning. Wujido shares essential nature with Shaolin as it shares in the nature of its origin.  Shaolin methods true to its history and bloodstream; methods drawn from each corner not forgetting anything, but unique nonetheless.


“That which gives birth to the life of the Universe is not itself born, what is born from it is that which is born. In the same way, what gives birth to change is changeless and does not change itself, what it changes is what changes.”

                                                                                                                                     Lao zi, the Tao Te Qing                                                                                                                  

     This is both the meaning and the goal of Wujido.  It is the unbounded, the eternal, the primordial essence underlying the 10,000 things and the manifestation of technique and method, out of which all wushu and bushido flows. Wuji points to the eternal truth as a loadstone and a guide. Wujido means the limitless path, the primordial truth, the unbounded way.  “Wuji” is not the Chaos as some would have it; it is the peace, the silence of infinite space extending equally in the ten directions and three times embracing within the warp and woof of its own self-being; the Infinite potential, the infinite self.

The Five Animals 8 methods 6 harmonies Kungfu   

The Chinese name is WuXing Bafa Liuhe Quanfa indicating the same as above.  These being the seed and branch and root of the art known by the popular name of Wujido.  You can only find it here among the Xiongdi for now.  It is the five Animals eight methods six harmonies monk boxing that was carried upon the wings of time and space that originated in the little forest temple. We wear no robes as they are not required.  We do not shave our heads for the same reason.   We are not vegans and allowed to eat meat and drink and everyone is invited young and old.  The discipline is strict for our modern times and moral virtue, authentic being, and spiritual bravery are the goal. Sincerity is a most desired companion, but you can come as you are without fear.