School Philosophy

Through your determination and desire to conquer yourself you will one day understand the beauty and wisdom of the Shaolin method of martial arts. Although harsh at times, training of martial arts will make you realize the many imperfections within.

As years go by, you will overcome many doubts and shortcomings within yourself which will give you uncommon strength of the mind and body. Eventually, conquering others becomes effortless and meaningless. Conquering yourself however, becomes a formidable task - worthy of a virtuous man anywhere. Nevertheless, one must realize that physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of this type of training are only a guiding light of eventually achieving great skill, self confidence, wisdom, and enlightenment. Through your failures and accomplishments, you must seek the truth within yourself, even though it may take you a lifetime of great efforts and tedious work to achieve this.

And even then, you might realize that you have only begun... and no matter where you are and what you do, you must always be tolerant, understanding, and compassionate to others. At the same time however, you must know that in the moment of danger, you will have the skill and courage to defend the truth.


This rare photograph of a very private and personal ceremony of a Buddhist monk being ordained as a priest, was taken by Hong Kong Photographer Mr. George Tan. He took this photograph using a telephoto lens from the roof of an adjacent building through the open window at the Po Lin Monastary on Lantau Island (near Hong Kong). Due to its uniqueness, this extremely rare photograph won many awards in South East Asia. During such ceremony, only close friends and teachers of the monk are permitted to attend. No outsiders are allowed and definitely no pictures are to be taken. After this photograph was published in several Hong Kong magazines, the monks of the Po Lin Temple moved this ceremony into the inner chambers and all windows during such events were covered with heavy drapes. No photograph like this was ever taken again. Approximately forty  years ago, Master Terlecki had the opportunity and privilege of knowing Mr. George Tan. At that time, Mr. Tan gave three copies of this photograph to Master Terlecki. Two were given as gifts to Master Terlecki's previous teachers, Grand Master O.E. Simon and Master Philip McAndrews.

This is in memory of Mr. George Tan who passed away many years ago in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Shaolin Monastery

In the past, many articles have been written on the subject of martial arts of Shaolin, some well-researched, others not. Nevertheless, it is important to point out that the Shaolin martial arts method was never taught for its use in warfare. Tales found in Chinese culture about Shaolin warrior monks are improbable and not true. No Buddhist monk would ever carry a weapon or any tool of war which could cause harm to any living being. By doing so, a monk would be in direct contradiction and violation of his oath, morals, and Buddhist faith

Ch'an Buddhism
Unfortunately, after the destruction of the Shaolin monastery in 1644-1645, Ch'an Buddhism began to separate from the Shaolin method of training. Luckily, there were always a few masters that maintained the method as a whole. The physical aspect must be a very strong and important part of this type of training at all times - but at the same time, one must understand that the true driving force of the Shaolin martial arts method, is Ch'an Buddhism, its philosophy and spirituality.
Kung Fu

Today, we use a popular and accepted worldwide terminology known as kung-fu (Cantonese name for theatrical mock combat). It is however, commonly understood that primitive forms of martial arts have been in existence for many years before the Shaolin method came into being. Historically speaking, some basic forms of martial arts were known in China as early as 250 B.C.

One must realize that physical, mental and spiritual aspects of this type of martial arts training are only the guiding light of eventually achieveing great skill, self confidence, wisdom and enlightenment.

A serious practictioner of the Shaolin martial arts method in today's society must serve as a role model within the community, hence, a teacher of the method must be a person of honour, loyalty, kindness and compassion --- qualities which are indeed difficult to find today, yet essential to any follower of the ancient Shaolin method.

At the Shaolin Monastery, many empty hand exercises evolved and became Buddist meditation in motion. Today, as the monks before us, we must still learn how to cope with an attack without conscious thought, resistance or emotion. The rigorous training at the Temple was used by each individual to overcome his fears and doubts; to provide a perfect balance between mind and body, to get rid of aggression, and to conquer the evil lurking within. Finally, as one learns to abandon his bias and self-limitations, he will have no need to control and conquer others, and will quietly achieve peace and enlightenment.

Skill, confidence, wisdom...

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Internal and External Styles

There is one more misconception worth mentioning - the internal and extenal methods of training, or as we refer to them today as styles. As the Shaolin martial arts system achieved its peak at one point in time, a new school of martial arts was developing near the mountain of Wu Tang. The name Wu Tang Shan, or internal school, came into being, in opposition to the Shaolin method. The Shaolin system was called an external school because its originator Bodhidharma was a monk from India, an outsider, a non-Chinese, who perhaps started the most effective discipline of self-perfection ever known to man. Wu Tang Shan was a creation of all Chinese teachers and did not have much value as a combative system becase it did not pursue the Ch'an Buddhist philosophy of the Shaolin monks. Unlike the monks, who were striving to obtain a perfect balance between mind and body, eventually achieving enlightenment, practitioners of Wu Tang Shan were not introduced to this concept, thus concentrating only on conquering an opponent with physical force alone.