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18 Lohan 

Buddhism centers around the teachings of Buddha. The 18 Lohans are figurines who are found in temples and Buddhist monasteries. They have attained ‘Nirvana’( spiritual fulfillment) and have no rebirth. There is no definite picture of the 18 Lohans. They vary from one Buddhist nation to other and depend upon the time it was created.  Another type of 18 Lohan is a kind of physical exercise that is practiced by the Buddhists since time immemorial. The 18 steps, postures and turning of their head and body are known as the 18 Lohan. The Shaolin monks practiced these 18 drills that were taught by the Bodhidharma. In Chinese it is known as “shih pa lohan sho”. The term Lo- han refers to the famous disciples of Buddha who were supposed to be born again on earth as Buddhas. This is believed by some sects of the Buddhist religion.

This is in many ways similar to the Korean interpretation of Chinese Shaolin wushu, means 18 tenets or methods. In 527 B.C 18 Lohan was taught to the monks at the Shaolin monastery. It is believed that the monks fell asleep during meditation and so were taught to perform 18 Lohan to keep their mind and body active during meditation which is the essential path towards enlightenment.  

In 18 Lohan the hands play an important role in all the exercises. If practiced sincerely and religiously these exercises can help people overcome many diseases. These 18 Lohan hands need to be practiced not only as a physical exercise but also to energize the mind and inner self. Otherwise it remains a physical exercise and will not heal the inner self. Chi Kung should be practiced knowing what the internal dimensions are and practiced.

Slowly these 18 Lohan hands evolved into Kungfu and at the Shaolin monastery took the form of  Shaolin Kungfu which is practiced today.  Because of its long history, there are many versions of the Eighteen Lohan Hands being taught today.  They are: Lifting the sky, shooting arrows, plucking stars, turning head, thrust punch, merry go round, carrying the moon, nourishing kidneys, three levels to ground, dancing ground, carrying mountains, drawing knife, presenting claws, pushing mountains, separating water, big windmill, deep knee bending and rotating knees.


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