Do you know this guy? If you are a student of Okinawan, Japanese, Korean or Chinese martial arts, you recognize him as Bodhidharma or Damo. Legend says he was a Buddhist monk from India who taught moving meditation exercises (Yi Jin Jing) to strengthen the bodies of the monks. These yoga-like mind/ body postures became seeds from which Shaolin warrior monk fighting styles evolved.

Apart from being the founder of Shaolin kung fu and zen meditation which profoundly influenced karate, tae kwon do and kung fu systems, we don’t know the true significance of this enigmatic figure. Does this bulging eyed monk have any relevance to training on TanDao Fight Lab or surviving on the streets or ring?

True, Damo’s martial connection is obscure. Lets face it: there are no tales of him unleashing his martial skills. Not even against bandits that roamed the land. Yet his power is alluded to in the tale that he crossed the Yangtze River floating on a leaf. Spiderman couldn’t have done it without his webbing. Another tale: while sitting in meditation for nine years in a cave he could hear the ants scream. But how does this relate to side kicks, hip throws and wrist locks?

Zen and kung fu teachings are always subtle. Underlying these two stories are basic keys to power: balance and awareness. Standing poised on a reed adrift on the river’s tumultuous currents implies the importance of balance taught in stance training. A stable and maneuverable stance is the basis for powerful and efficient techniques. Consider how supreme physical balance and body control is vital for combat.

The second tale points to the power of the mind. Zen meditation develops heightened intuitive awareness that augments all physical techniques. With a heightened development of the senses and mental perception, you can detect an opponent’s intentions before they manifest in a technique. Who knew that mental and physical principles of power could be concealed in Damo’s exploits?

Balance and awareness are principles underlying martial arts mastery be it mma, tang soo do or capoeira. Evolving Martial Artists awaken to practical meaning veiled in traditional tales. Review our TanDao Fight Lab videos. How will Damo’s hidden principles of balance and awareness maximize the power behind the techniques? Think about it.

4 Comments on Bodhidharma

  1. paresh jadhav says:

    it is helpfull

  2. satyasyam says:

    master bodhidharma is peace

  3. “The inner battle is won through meditation.” So true. Fascinating video and story Tan Dao.

  4. german says:


Leave a Reply