This introductory chapter asserts that the Shaolin Monastery has become the most famous Buddhist temple in the world due to its association to the Chinese martial arts. Often presented as a combat style that originated at the Shaolin Monastery, the Chinese martial arts have spread the temple's fame among large populations not necessarily familiar with the Buddhist faith. This popularity raises the questions: Is Shaolin's fame justified? Did its monks ever practice the martial arts? If they did, their military practice would give rise to numerous religious, political, and military inquiries concerning contradictions between the monastic military training and the Buddhist prohibition of violence.
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