It is used in Chinese Buddhism to describe a practitioner which was had a higher level of attainment or pre-enlightenment but has not become a Boddhisattva, or a Buddha. The Luohan are also considered semi saint like and are often as disciples of Guatama Buddha who were instructed to await the coming of the Matreiya future Buddha. Depending on the sutra Buddhist Scripture there are between 4 - 16 Luohan in early Indian and Tibetan texts. During that time Buddhists had undergone a period of persecution from the Emperor Tang Wuzong and a group of faithful had taken the Luohan as guardians at the time. One of the oldest known statues of such depiction are from Yixian county, Hebei Province. The Luohan in their original depictions prior to entering the Chinese Buddhism, did not have the emotional and differentiating characteristics that would be endowed upon in the future.
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It is used in Chinese Buddhism to describe a practitioner which was had a higher level of attainment or pre-enlightenment but has not become a Boddhisattva, or a Buddha. The Luohan are also considered semi saint like and are often as disciples of Guatama Buddha who were instructed to await the coming of the Matreiya future Buddha. Depending on the sutra Buddhist Scripture there are between 4 - 16 Luohan in early Indian and Tibetan texts. During that time Buddhists had undergone a period of persecution from the Emperor Tang Wuzong and a group of faithful had taken the Luohan as guardians at the time.
One of the oldest known statues of such depiction are from Yixian county, Hebei Province. The Luohan in their original depictions prior to entering the Chinese Buddhism, did not have the emotional and differentiating characteristics that would be endowed upon in the future. In fact many held the Luohan with great reverance and even the Emperor QIanlong from the Qing Dynasty visited the Guan Xiu paintings stored at the Shengyin Temple, Hangzhou and was said to admire them greatly.
He even wrote a set of eulogy for each of the Luohan which influenced the depiction until this day. In martial arts terms, there are some folklore and legend which attribute the Luohan to the time of Boddidharma and his time in the Central Plains of China, where the famous Shaolin Temple on Shao Shi Peak of Song Mountain is located.
The legend suggests creation of something thought to be 18 hands of luohan. What is lesser known or correlated is the practice of the White Lotus groups that were sub Daoist, Buddhist and general Chinese culural religious faiths that believed in the coming of the Matreiya as well as placing many historical and religious figures into their reverance system.
Some parts of these groups also practiced martial arts and it is likely the path by which the Luohan were to be included into their practice. Each not necessarily related as much as commonly inspired by the Luohan. To the practices in those three main areas, there are again many variations and schools thereof. Although Luohan Quan is a main feature in Shaolin Quan for more information visit our details here , its practice does not hold the symbollic practice as found in some of the styles of southeastern coast.
It is these styles of the Jiangnan to which our Luohan Quan is derived and thus expounded upon herein. The beauty of the Luohan Quan from Jiangnan is in its direct association between the buddhist ideals and the practice, between the descriptive aspects of the Luohan and the techniques within the boxing.
It is unfortunate that this style is rarely held in its completeness in present times, possibly because of the great skills that understanding parts of the style already can impart or due to the common practice of masters finding an affiniation with only one or some of the Luohan thereby ignoring others. After an almost 20 year expedition of practice and discovery across Zhejiang and Fujian province the composition of the many pieces of the style are detailed herein.
The first paintings depicted only sixteen 16 Arhats and even this was an increase from an original four. The Ekottara-agama Numbered Discourses from the Buddhist Canon , records a tradition that the Buddha appointed four Luohan - Mahakasyapa, Kundopadhaniya, Pindola, and Rahula, to remain in the world and not achieve final Nirvana until Maitreya, the next Buddha, arrived. They were to guard the Dharma. A later work, the Mahayanavataraka-sastra, then expands the list to sixteen, eliminating Mahakasyapa and Kundopadhaniya, but retaining Pindola, and Rahula as well as fourteen other Luohan unamed at the time.
These were subsequently identified in a Chinese work of art which brought the number up to 16 and sixteen is the standard number in Tibet and Japan. The last two were to be added much later even as late as the 17th century. Often with a grand assembly of natural and supernatural beings: "monks and Luohan, Boddhisattvas of foreign lands, incalculable numbers of gods, dragons, yaksas, asuras, and other sentient beings.
According to the Lankavatara Sutra, there are 10 stages on the path to becoming a Bodhisattva. At the sixth stage some do not complete fully and therefore become Luohan rather than Boddhisattvas. In Mahayana Buddhism, the Luohan stage is essential to go through prior to becoming a Boddhisattva which is about cultivating wisdom. It is because of this that the Luohan are considered in high regard within Chinese Mahayana Buddhism.
It is after the stories of the Ming Dynasty that the glortifying of legends amongst the Han people were being spread and applied to various cultural and religious movements. The White Lotus group of which the Ming Dynasty originated from was very big on the idea in the Qing dynasty. Even the emperor Qianlong was captured by such ideals. The Shaolin Temple in the central plains influenced the concepts in the Central and North of China, and further about the Luohan practiced there is found in the section about Shaolin.
In terms of the Southern martial arts the boxing methods of the Minbei region highly influenced by descendants of the Celestial Masters group of Daoists and by the Zhangzhou Hongmen and Hakka efforts in the South derivatives of the White Lotus movement under the banner of the Tian Di Hui all played a part in combining boxing methods with names from historical, spiritual and religious figures.
It is from those concepts that the Luohan were born and to be taught to generations later. There are over 7 different Luohan Quan styles in Southeastern China alone and many more throughout the country.
This are elaborated upon in the next section. Southern Luohan Boxing Traditions In terms of Luohan Quan there are many differen styles and thus each with its own history. Some styles have created a history based on legends, others are short to only reach a few generations since their propagation whislt some even include religious lines of monks into their lineage.
These will be outlined below to understand how Luohan Quan came to be in the Southeastern areas of China. These are introduced below. Luohan Quan is also one of the styles prominently found there. There are also many armed practices with weapons sets including 35 for long and 72 short weapons and over 24 combined combat sets. In Yuekou, Zhangzhou, M. Lin Youcai also taught Luohan Quan. Master Zhang is said tro have studied with a monk at Shan Feng Temple and later taught the style in Pingnan.
The postures is the essence of Dan Bian Luohan Quan. After he taught others the style was known as Xiangdian in consideration of its origins with Master Fang. Since Master Xi was already versed in indigenous boxing methods of Zhejiang and the styles close resemblance of that, it is likely that this style really took the concept of Luohan but consists of local boxing methods therein. He was fortunate to receive tuition from many masters in a variety of styles and became an important figure in Fujian martial arts holding posts such as President of the Quanzhou martial arts research society and the Fujian provincial martial arts bureau.
In , he commenced the Jianying martial arts Institute. Hou Junhuan used to reside on Xijie West Road in Quanzhou, however not much is known of his teachers. This style consists of elements from Taizu Quan, Luohan Quan mainly as well as some arts from Zhejiang. Since the founder is said to have practiced methods only passed amongst Buddhist monks, the style is referred to as Fo Jia Pai Buddhist Family School.
Characterized by deeply rooted stances, which are often on a three angled plane the style is direct and consists of simply to execute and apply movements. It focuses on direct powerful application of all techniques and individual expression of intention, power and methods on the basis of the 18 Luohan.
The concept is that each Luohan is represented not just by physical skills, but also by power and spiritual emphasis which has been the basis for most of the Luohan Quan systems throughout history. There are introductory sets that ensure the right basics are understood, and then followed by individual components which are based on each of the 18 Luohans.
In total there are over 18 sequences some short and others long ranging between 12 up to techniques within each sequence. Many of the sets are also matching so that they can be practiced with a partner. We outline only some of those below. Movements are direct and practical.
The story of Kanmen Luohan suggests that when young he was slow-wittted and with poor memory having difficulties in reciting sutras. As a result Buddha was said to have taught to sweep and that the simple verse should be to sweep. This simple method focused his mind and since he achieved enlightenment. He latter guarded the areas whilst sweeping throughout the temple. There are 72 movements in Kanmen Luohan which are often split into 4 parts - it is the first two that shown the most. Sometimes in traditions this are split into Xiao and Da Luohan first two and last two parts.
Fuhu Luohan then suggested that by regularly feeding the tiger it would not be hungry. This idea worked and then the tiger became tamed and the townspeople no longer lived in fear. This set contains three sections of 18 methods, totalling In addition to great techniques the first and last section can be practiced as a matching combat set in pair.
Movements are large and extended including the use of the full arsenal of the human body. The legend of Xianglong Luohan he had sole handedly recovered sutras that were destroyed and had to subdue dragons that stood guard at the king of the undersea.
There are methods, with 6 sections. There is also an 18 movement combined set which emphasises grappling and throwing concepts into a 2 man combat practice. With a focus on the conflicting spirit, the methods include the training of physical expression and emotions which are often accompanied by sounds. The techniques are combinations that often end in a Luohan posture, whilst the actual methods are mostly found between postures. Kanaka the Happy Arhat was said to look at happiness as experience through the five senses, whilst eternal bliss was said to come not from the senses but rather from within - the Buddha in the heart.
The Xinu Luohan is an enduring set that allows one to experience all senses only to return to nothingness but the tranquility from the heart. Some legends advocate that he was born with long eyebrows, however, the more common legend is that he was a monk in previous lives but had failed to reach ultimate enlightenment.
Hanging onto life striving for the attainment after many years that which remained were his long eyebrows. The Changmei Luohan set although short with only 36 methods, is considered an advanced one.
Power is short relying on combination of both gentle and highly accelerated power. There are few methods but they are held for long periods, repeated and special breathing and thought imagery is required throughout.
It was also said that he was originally a warrior with immense strength who then gave up a life of fighting and killing. Through meditation he was able to achieve enlightenment and many apply the Heart sutra to calm the mind of a warrior.
Zui Quan can be used for both fighting and maintaining health. However, the drunkard boxers go out of their way to stress the combative side of their style. They blend a series of movements, actions and skills o f the martial arts and try to confuse their opponents with special skills which often lead them to surprise triumphs. Execution of the drunkard boxing demands extreme flexibility of the joints as well as suppleness, dexterity, power and coordination all of which can be developed in the course of practice. The main feature of the drunkard boxing is to hide combative hits in drunkard-like, unsteady moveme nts and actions so s to confuse the opponent. The secret of this style of boxing is maintaining a clear mind while giving a drunken appearance. Drunkard boxers are required to be responsive with good eyesight and fist plays.
Luohan Quan | 罗汉拳
The name Luohan, the Chinese equivalent of the Sanskrit Indian word Arhat, refers to those who have achieved enlightenment. Therefore, the ultimate goal of the monks of Shaolin temple, in particular, has always been to reach the level of becoming Luohans. Therefore, the Luohan s have always been holy icon s in the daily life and martial art of Shaolin temple monks. As far as related to Shaolin temple martial arts, the names Luohan quan and Shaolin quan are often considered synonyms and therefore interchangeable. Monk Shi Deqian, in his efforts to document Shaolin martial arts collected 8 forms of the 18 hands of Luohan into his "Encyclopedia of Shaolin martial arts". The methods are mostly done by the palms of the hands. Fists, hook hands, and other hand gestures and kicks are less used.
Shaolin boxing styles
Some styles have created a history based on legends, others are short to only reach a few generations since their propagation whislt some even include religious lines of monks into their lineage. These will be outlined below to understand how Luohan Quan came to be in the Southeastern areas of China. These are introduced below. Luohan Quan is also one of the styles prominently found there.