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I-ho ch'üan


I-ho ch'üan (Boxers) (1900): Beginning in 1898, groups of peasants in northern China began to band together into a secret society known as I-ho ch'üan ("Righteous and Harmonious Fists"), called the "Boxers" by Western press. Members of the secret society practiced boxing and calisthenic rituals (hence the nickname, the "Boxers") which they believed would make them impervious to bullets.

At first, the Boxers wanted to destroy the Ch'ing dynasty (which had ruled China for over 250 years) and wanted to rid China of all foreign influence (which they considered a threat to Chinese culture). When the Empress Dowager backed the Boxers, the Boxers turned solely to ridding China of foreigners.

By late 1899, bands of Boxers were massacring Christian missionaries and Chinese Christians. By May 1900, the Boxer Rebellion had come out of the countryside and was being waged in the capital of Peking (now Beijing). To help their fellow countrymen and to protect their interests in China, an international force of 2,100 American, British, Russian, French, Italian, and Japanese soldiers were sent to subdue the "rebellion."

On June 18, 1900, the Empress Dowager ordered all foreigners to be killed. Several foreign ministers and their families were killed before the international force could protect them. On August 14, 1900, the international force took Peking and subdued the rebellion.

The Boxer Rebellion weakened the Ch'ing dynasty's power and hastened the Republican Revolution of 1911 that overthrew the boy emperor and made China a republic.

Throughout the nineteenth century, China's emperors had watched as foreigners encroached further and further upon their land. Repeatedly, foreigners forced China to make humiliating concessions. Foreign regiments, armed with modern weapons, consistently defeated entire imperial armies. Now, as a new century was about to begin, Tsu Hsi, empress dowager of the Ch'ing Dynasty, searched for a way to rid her empire of foreign parasites. Austria, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, and Russia all claimed exclusive trading rights to certain parts of China. They were dividing China into "spheres of influence." Some even claimed to own the territory within their spheres. By acquiring the Philippines, the United States became an Asian power too. Now, with a strong base of operations just 400 miles from China, American businesses hoped to take advantage of China's vast resources. The foreign spheres of influence, however, threatened their ambitions. Therefore, while the empress was hoping to close China to foreigners, Americans were looking for a way in. John Hay, now Secretary of State, had an idea. Since public opinion, strained by the Philippines war, would never support the use of force, he decided to negotiate. He sent letters to all the foreign powers and suggested an "Open Door" policy in China. This policy would guarantee equal trading rights for all and prevent one nation from discriminating against another within its sphere. The nations replied that they liked the concept of the Open Door, but that they could not support or enforce it. Hay's plan had been politely rejected. Nevertheless, Hay announced that since all of the powers had accepted the Open Door in principle, the United States considered their agreement "final and definitive."


Fists of Righteous Harmony

While the outside powers bickered over who would control China, Tsu Hsi issued an imperial message to all the Chinese provinces.

The present situation is becoming daily more difficult. The various Powers cast upon us looks of tiger-like voracity, hustling each other to be first to seize our innermost territories. . . . Should the strong enemies become aggressive and press us to consent to things we can never accept, we have no alternative but to rely upon the justice of our cause. . . . If our . . . hundreds of millions of inhabitants . . . would prove their loyalty to their emperor and love of their country, what is there to fear from any invader? Let us not think about making peace.

In northern Shandong province, a devastating drought was pushing people to the edge of starvation. Few people there were thinking about making peace. A secret society, known as the Fists of Righteous Harmony, attracted thousands of followers. Foreigners called members of this society "Boxers" because they practiced martial arts. The Boxers also believed that they had a magical power, and that foreign bullets could not harm them. Millions of "spirit soldiers," they said, would soon rise from the dead and join their cause.


Their cause, at first, was to overthrow the imperial Ch'ing government and expel all "foreign devils" from China. The crafty empress, however, saw a way to use the Boxers. Through her ministers, she began to encourage the Boxers. Soon a new slogan -- "Support the Ch'ing; destroy the foreigner!" -- appeared upon the Boxers' banner. In the early months of 1900, thousands of Boxers roamed the countryside. They attacked Christian missions, slaughtering foreign missionaries and Chinese converts. Then they moved toward the cities, attracting more and more followers as they came. Nervous foreign ministers insisted that the Chinese government stop the Boxers. From inside the Forbidden City, the empress told the diplomats that her troops would soon crush the "rebellion." Meanwhile, she did nothing as the Boxers entered the capital. Foreign diplomats, their families, and staff lived in a compound just outside the Forbidden City's walls in the heart of Beijing. Working together, they threw up hasty defenses, and with a small force of military personnel, they faced the Boxer onslaught. One American described the scene as 20,000 Boxers advanced in a solid mass and carried standards of red and white cloth. Their yells were deafening, while the roar of gongs, drums and horns sounded like thunder. . . . They waved their swords and stamped on the ground with their feet. They wore red turbans, sashes, and garters over blue cloth. When they were only twenty yards from our gate, three volleys from the rifles of our sailors left more than fifty dead upon the ground.

The Boxers fell back but soon returned. Surrounded, the foreigners could neither escape nor send for help. For almost two months, they withstood fierce attacks and bombardment. Things began to look hopeless. Seventy-six defenders lay dead, and many more were wounded. Ammunition, food, and medical supplies were almost gone. Then, shortly before dawn, loud explosions rocked the city. Weary defenders staggered to the barricades, expecting a final, overpowering Boxer attack. However, as a column of armed men approached them, they began to cheer. Help had arrived at last.

After a month of no news from their diplomats, the foreign powers had grown worried. They assembled an international relief force of soldiers and sailors from eight countries. The United States, eager to rescue its ministers and to assert its presence in China, sent a contingent of 2,500 sailors and marines. After rescuing another besieged delegation in Tientsin, the international force-marched to Beijing, fighting Boxers and imperial soldiers along the way.

The international troops looted the capital and even ransacked the Forbidden City. Disguised as a peasant, the empress dowager escaped the city in a cart. She returned to the Forbidden City a year later, but the power of the Ch'ing dynasty was destroyed forever. Because it had participated in the campaign, the United States participated in the settlement that followed. Hay called for an expanded "Open Door," not only within the spheres of influence, but in all parts of China. He also recommended that the powers preserve China's territory and its government. Other powers agreed, and the Open Door policy allowed foreign access to China's market until World War II closed it once again.


Between 1848 and 1900, over 200,000 Chinese immigrated to America from Guang-dong province. Some stayed in San Francisco's Chinatown, This is where Grandmaster Hsiang Settled and was a member of the Peking opera for a time and later went back to China, where he passed away in 1925.the second largest community of Chinese outside Hong Kong and China today was in San Francisco . While others joined the gold rush or worked their way east on the railroad. In San Francisco's Chinatown, the secret societies took root again. They became the infamous Tong Brothers With these expatriate revolutionaries grew the first western vestiges of classical Chinese martial arts, forming a large part of the philosophical base of many of the secret societies. During the mid-1800's Chinese martial arts were cloaked in secrecy, as they had been in China. Outsiders knew nothing of them. Not until much later were they available for the non-Chinese. When the martial arts did come within grasping range of a non-Chinese, they were viewed as a mysterious, secretive, magical practice used strictly for fighting, because that was the image projected by the secret societies.


The lineage of Shaolin martial arts has been continued directly into present day

Through Grandmaster Han Tai-Hsian (1853-1925) {5th Generation},

Grandmaster Chuan Lo Li (1880-1970) {6th Generation},

Grandmaster Liang Ming-chuan (1920-1995) {7th Generation},

And today by Grandmaster Michael Neal {8th Generation}.

Around 520 AD, a Buddhist monk from India named Bodhidharma (Da Mo) came to the Shaolin monastery at the foot of the Songshan Mountains in north-central China. To help the monks withstand the long periods of meditation he introduced from his Chan (Zen) school of Buddhism, Bodhidharma taught the monks special breathing techniques and exercises to develop both their inner strength and their ability to defend themselves in the remote and often dangerous mountainous area in which they lived. Bodhidharma himself was said to have sat meditating facing a cave wall near the temple for nine years listening to the ants scream. Based on these exercises introduced by Bodhidharma, the Shaolin monks gradually developed a sophisticated fighting system known as Shaolin Martial Arts. Two related concepts separate Shaolin arts from most other styles. One is the use of "internal" abilities derived from the meditative based training and the other is how its fighting techniques are largely based on the movements of animals. Related to the Taoist backgrounds of many of the monks at the time, observing nature and living in harmony with the world was an important concept to go hand-in-hand with the Zen Buddhist concepts introduced by Bodhidharma. The combinations of internal exercises with philosophies based on the forces at work in the natural world are the basis for the development of Shaolin martial arts. In our Shaolin style, we practice Nei Kung (internal work) (Chinese) {Kung-Fu), training incorporated with the more physical Wei Kung (external work) (Japanese) (Karate), to create a more complete martial artist. We practice a variety of animal-based forms and systems such as the Bird, Tiger, and Dragon. Da Mo’s Ie Ching (Bodhidharma), And Physical forms such as San Njie Chien,Three unity “Iron Man” Form, Tie Ku Chang / Iron Bone Palm, Se Meng Tao lie “The way to break the four doors” {Facing the four doors}. Some of our weapons reflect the Japanese Styles such as the Tonfa, Sai, Kamas, and Nunchaku. The Japanese Ranking System and Gi (Uniform or Tunic) were adopted due to the Popular Japanese (Karate) systems, and due to the fact that the Chinese were discriminated against so in order to continue with the art of Shaolin it had to take on another appearance. This was done during the Boxer Rebellion around 1900 by Grandmaster Han Tai-Hsiang. The Kyu Ranks (Below Black Belt & The Dan (Black Belt) Grading System was developed as a means to Grade the Many Levels Of Teaching as well as Learning. We pay Respect and Honor to the Rich History of the Shaolin Temples.

The Way Of The Warrior

The Whirling Of Swords

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