The history from Kung Fu is far from complete and always under conflict. Most of what is told is legend and there is very little information over the old Shaolin temple.
The most known version of the origin of the temple is that it's arise was in the year 479 (AD) in a northern province called Honan.
One of the most famous men in the history of martial arts was an Indian priest named Bodhidharma, also known as Ta Mo.
Around the year 520 (AD) Bodhidharma made his way on foot to China to spread the word of Buddhism. He was born as the son of king Sugandha and was trained in martial arts by an old master named Prajnatara.
Just as the origin of the Shaolin temple is under constant conflict so was the life of Bodhidharma. It is difficult to distinguish what is truth and what is fantasy. When Bodhidharma noticed how tranquil the monks were during meditation, so tranquil that they even fell asleep, he decided to learn their a series of 18 movements, today known as " the 18 hands of Lo Han".
Most historians agree that in the 16 th century a young man named, Kwok Yuen, further added to the 18 original movements and developed a total of 72 movements.
Even though Kwok Yuen was an exceptional boxer and weapons master, he was not completely satisfied with his accomplishments. He traveled far and wide, through China, in search of new teachers with a wider knowledge of the martial arts. He eventually found master Pak Yook Fong and master Li and they returned together to the Shaolin temple, changed the 72 movements into 170 and divided them into 5 animals styles: the tiger, crane, leopard, dragon and snake.
The Honan temple was destroyed in the18 th century by government troops. As legend tells it 60,000 soldiers attacked and destroyed the temple. The monks that managed to escape were ruthlessly hunted down. A few monks fled to the Fukien temple in southern China. Years later, more than 1,000 Shaolin followers bravely gave their lives to prevent the destruction of the Fukien temple. Only a handful of monks avoided the bloodbath. The monks that successfully escaped managed to quickly spread the teachings of Shaolin Kung Fu. The monks secretly taught their well-guarded art of fighting to the people to prepare them for the fight with the hated government. These arts spread out over southern China and were divided into 5 different styles, all named after their founders: Hung, Lau, Mok, Choy and Lee.