Text Box: This is a bit of historical information concerning an individual who is believed to be “the original propagator of the martial arts concept”, generically thought of today as Karate.  This is a bit of a misnomer, because Karate is a Japanese term and technically this individuals childhood and travels, encompassed India and China.  He was the founder of Zen Buddhism and as a result made him the 1st patriach of such.
 This individuals name is Bodhidharma.  He was the third child of King Sugandha (Branman King) of Southern India and a member of the Kshatriya (a warrior caste).  The root of his training was Vajramushti.  He spent his childhood in Conjeeveram (also known as Kanchipuram and Kancheepuram), the small Buddhist province south of Madras.  He received his training in Buddhist meditation from his master, Prajnatara, who was responsible for changing his name from Bodhitara to Bodhidharma. He was an excellent student and wrestler.  By middle age he was considered a Buddhist master and an accomplished Kshatriya warrior.  At the death of Prajnatara, he set forth on the following journey.  This journey was the death bed wish of his master saddened by the decline of Buddhism outside of India proper.
 About fourteen hundred years ago, Daruma (Bodhidharma in Sanskrit, Pu-Ti-Ta-Mo or Ta-mo in Chinese), the founder of Zen Buddhism, which is one branch of Buddhism in general, left western India, penetrating mountain ranges including the Himalayas, and crossing unbridged rivers through complete wilderness, to travel to China and present lectures on Buddhism.  Some historical notes have him arriving in Canton, China at apx. 470AD, leaving there and arriving next in Ching-Ling (which is now Nanking). Since even present roads between India and China would not be described as good, one can only imagine the greatness of Daruma’s spirit and physical strength as he made this several thousand mile trip alone.  Some historical recollections have him being ordered away by Emperor WU of the Liang Dynasty.    This came about because of a meeting that Emperor Wu and Bodhidharma had.  Wu invited him to the palace and during the conversatiions stated to Bodhidharma that “I have built many temples and pagodas, and restored even more.  I have given much of the treasury to the Sangha (brotherhood of Buddhist monks) and made offerings in all the major temples of the land.  What merit have I gained by all my efforts?  Bodhidharma looked the emperor in the eye and answered, “Your majesty, through all your efforts, you have gained no merit at all”.  Enraged, Wu had Bodhidharma banished.  As a result he traveled North and visited the Shao-lin (Sil-Lum) Temple (Shorin-ji) named after a “small forest” of surrounding trees, built by emperor Hsiao-shen (Xiao Wen) in the 5th century (495AD).  It was located in the Shao-Shi (Sung-Shan) mountains of the Tung-Feng (Dengfeng) county, Hunan (Honan) Province in China.  As a definitive note, Shaolin actually means the “Forest of Shao Mountain”.  After this visit there is colorful story that “paints” a picture of Ta-mo as a staunch ascetic, confining himself to a cave that was apx. three-quarters up the mountain behind the temple for nine years, where he sat facing the wall in meditation, of which this cave still exists today.  It is said that during one summer, he found himself drifting off to sleep during his meditation.  Angered by his laziness and realizing that he would never reach enlightment by sleeping, he cut off his eyelids with a knife.  It is also said that the disciples of Bodhidharma discovered that the sun had burned the monk’s shadow into one of the cave’s rocks.  The disciples removed the rock and put it on display in the temple, where it remains to this day as a testament to Bodhidharma’s religious zeal.  Before we leave the story of the cave completely, there is a story to pass on.  Stories circulated about Boddhidharma's self-induced solitude, and one winter day a young man named Shen Guang showed up at the mouth of his cave.  Shen had studied Taoism for many years, had heard of Boddhidharma, and was determined to study with him.  Shen stood patiently for hours in the knee-deep snow outside the cave, waiting for Boddhidharma to finish his meditation.  When the monk stirred at last, Shen introduced himself and announced his de-sire to become a disciple.  Bodhidharma was concerned when he learned of Shen's long association with Taosim, and he feared the young man was not sincere and merely wanted to add to his collection of knowledge.  To test Shen's sincerity, Boddhidharma told him "I will take you as my disciple only when heaven snows red."  With that, he dismissed the young man.  Shen was crushed, but he was also determined not to give up.  Pulling a knife from his belt, he cut off his left arm, allowing the blood to splatter on the snow.  Once again he knelt before Bodhidharma, offering up his arm as a gesture ofhis commitment.  Bodhidarma agreed to make Shen a disciple and attended to the young man's wound.  He gave his new disciple the name Hui Ke, and shortly before his death, Bodhidharma passed on his robe and begging bowl to Hui, who became the second partiarch of the Dhyana sect in China.
Throughout his travels and life he studied the attacking techniques of animals and insects and the forces of nature.  He combined the knowledge learned from this with a special breathing technique to form a legendary system of weaponless fighting and mental concentration.  After this period of meditation he returned to the temple to lecture there on Buddhism. There developed a problem though, as a great magnitude of followers fell, one by one, in exhaustion from the harshness of his training.  As an extra historical note, this temple (which developed the art of Shaolin-szu) was built honoring the Indian monk Bodhiruchi, also known as Buddhabhadra and as Ba Tuo in Chinese who was the first abbot (Bodhidharma’s predecessor by several decades).   Daruma Taishi then set forth a method of developing the mind and body, telling them, “Although the way Buddha is preached for the salvation of the soul, the body and soul are inseparable.  As I look at you now, I think it likely that you will not complete your training because of your exhaustion and as a result of the state you are now in, you could never perform the ascetic practices necessary for the true enlightment.  For this reason, I shall give you a method by which you can develop your physical strength enough to enable yourselves to attain the essence of the way of Buddha.”  The method he set forth is contained in the Ekkin Kyo (Ekkin “Sutra”).  These were a series of 18 exercises (“Shi Pa Lo Han Sho” or 18 Hands of the Lo Han), which he documented in a manuscript called the I-Chin-Ching (Muscle Change Classic).It is popularly held that the physical drills introduced by Bodhidharma was the basis for the Shaolin Ch’uan Fa or Kempo (fist way).  As a note, this eighteen point system was subsequently revised to 170 techniques. This eventually became the Shao-lin method of Chinese boxing.  This development, however, has been challenged by many authorities and it should thus be viewed very cautiously.  The method that eventually did emerge from the Shao-lin Temple was called the wai-chia (Shaolin-szu), or external schools of Chinese boxing.  With it, the monks were able to recover their spiritual and physical strength, and it is said that these monks of the Shao-lin Temple came to be known throughout China for their courage and fortitude.
 In later times, after teaching of this method originally proposed by Daruma spread to many other places, it came to bear the name of its origin and was called Shorin-ji Kempo.  It was this method that eventually reached the Ryukyu Islands and developed into Okinawa-te, the forerunner of present day karate which is accredited to Gichin Funakoshi.

A Historical Perspective of Daruma (Bodhidharma, Ta Mo)