Talk:Yijin Jing

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the reason why it was deleted was due to the fact that many of the paragraphs talk about things that are disussed in other sections of the article and about subject matters that have nothing to do with the Yi Jin Jing. Further, you've made the article unnecessarily long. Not only that, the discussion is about the Yi Jin Jing not Bodhidharma who has his own article. The discussion on bodhidharma in the longer version is also contradictory in some aspects and discusses some legends as facts. Also, there are a lot of grammatical errors in the article. Also, a whole paragraph and a half was spent on the discussion by a random interview with a monk and his ideas on martial arts. it doesn't add to the article nor is he a historian who discusses history. All he is doing is talking about his opinions on the matter. Kennethtennyson 17:40, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

"Also, a whole paragraph and a half was spent on the discussion by a random interview with a monk and his ideas on martial arts. it doesn't add to the article nor is he a historian who discusses history. All he is doing is talking about his opinions on the matter."

It takes someone extremely ignorant, who knows absolutely nothing about the topic, to say something like that. He was clearly an expert, and while at times he expessed popular conventional/mythical views, in oyther areas he was relaying the results of the best research.

And had Kennethtennyson been messing around with an original quote (now no longer in the article)? (talk) 12:17, 6 July 2015 (UTC)

Too many quotes[edit]

This page needs to cut back on the number of quotes. I think it would be wise to paraphrase the material and only use quotes for the important statements. --Ghostexorcist (talk) 18:28, 28 June 2008 (UTC)

"White washing"[edit]

Hi everyone. I see my BRD edit has reached the stage of "R" :-).

This article should be informative about the Yijin Jing. I don't see what's informative about treating visitors to Wikipedia to 1700 impassioned words about how authorship of the Yijin Jing by Bodhidharma is a terrible lie (with lots of detailed quotes to back up that argument). If someone wants to know some evidence for the varying theories about authorship, there are places to find it that aren't the WP article. If someone wants to learn about the Yijin Jing starting more or less at the beginning, it's going to confuse the hell out of them for them to see the current article. The current article seems to assume that the reader _already knows_ that Bodhidharma is traditionally regarded as the source of the document, and is devoted to changing his or her mind about it.

I also think that the traditional view of the authorship should get quite a bit of weight on the page, rather than 95% of the weight (and more than half the article) being devoted to the theories of modern academics, but the issue of being somewhat informative to outsiders is to my mind actually more important.

I think there's also a slight bit of windmill-tilting going on here: I don't know of any source that believes that Bodhidharma was believed to be the personal author of the Yijin Jing (I don't think anyone supposedly knows whether he authored the documents or where he got them if not, since he was already gone when they were discovered). I also don't think anyone contends that the Shaolin monks got much of their self-defense technique from the documents; I understand the traditional history to be that they got physical conditioning from the documents, but that they were responsible for developing much of the self-defense technique separately (both before and after Bodhidharma's time).

Subverdor (talk) 20:49, 9 May 2010 (UTC)

I think it's obvious that you need to review Wikipedia's policy on WP:NPOV. Referring to the popular view just to avoid confusing people is irresponsible. The page needs to include info both for and against it's authenticity. If people want to learn about it from the beginning then the start of the lead and body of the article should have info about the popular view. Then, the the last part of both will detail the scholarly view. This will satisfy both the average person wanting to know about the traditional legend and the scholar wanting to know about its actual history.
I'm not sure what sources you have read, but even traditional Chinese documents from the Qing Dynasty claims Bodhidharma created the exercise and that this was the source of the monks' martial prowess. Just about every martial artist interested in Shaolin history that I have ever met quote this legend. I have even seen it mentioned in research papers written by people trying to show a link between Indian and Chinese martial arts. --Ghostexorcist (talk) 21:47, 9 May 2010 (UTC)

------ (joining my section in with this one since the editor posted before I did)

A huge portion of the page relating to the the Classic's erroneous nature was removed. While I feel the overabundance of quotes is unneeded (see the thread above), completely removing all information pertaining to this is tantamount to whitewashing. After the removal was completed, only one sentence was left about the work being a forgery. Scholars have thoroughly disproven Bodhidharma's link to the Classic. The manual itself dates to no earlier than the late Ming dynasty. This is not a fringe theory put forth by one scholar, but by many from China, Japan, and the west. These people have analyzed contemporary documents and stelae from this time and are not relying on modern day folk tales passed around in martial arts circles.

This doesn't mean that I am opposed to material written by people who do believe that it was written by Bodhidharma or that it is thousands of years old. This will make the page neutral. However, it should not overshadow the scholarly info. --Ghostexorcist (talk) 20:52, 9 May 2010 (UTC)


Again, this article needs to be informative to newcomers. The current article is not, and that's a problem. The issue of proper balance between the historical theories is secondary (though I think we should also deal with that).

Would you be open to the article as I wrote it, followed by an in-depth summary of the argument against the traditional history in clear terms? I'm not too familiar with the modern academic consensus, but I've taken a look through the sources, and I don't see anything that looks like disproof. Mostly to me it looks like "it's hard to believe X and Y in the traditional account, and therefore X, Y, Z, and M must be untrue and A and B must be true." Can you explain to me in a couple of sentences what the academic disproof consists of (or link me to the clearest explanation of it you're aware of)? Why are some sources absolutely certain, for example, that Zining wrote the text in exactly 1624?

Subverdor (talk) 21:11, 9 May 2010 (UTC)

First, I have to ask that you do not edit something that I personally added to the talk page. It was put there so future editors could see that I attempted to create my own sub-thread on the subject. Second, please see my comments above regarding the balance of both legendary and historical material. Third, and this is important, how can you argue for or against the inclusion of material when you are not fully read on the subject? Have you read anything other than William Hu's article? He is not the only person who has written at length on the subject. The best source I can give you that debunks the Classic's ancient origins is the book Shaolin Monastery (2008) by Prof. Meir Shahar. I have included some of the info in Shaolin Monastery#Patron saint. --Ghostexorcist (talk) 21:47, 9 May 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I'd read the part of "The Shaolin Monastery" that deals with Bodhidharma. Okay, I'll take a stab at summarizing the academic argument against historical fact in the legend. Let me know what you think. Subverdor (talk) 22:02, 9 May 2010 (UTC)
Actually, no: There's an easy way to do this. I'll use my section as an introduction, then a subsection that mostly just includes the current article (which describes the modern historical consensus as contrasted with a currently not-well-specified traditional account). That won't be perfect, but should be more satisfactory to both of us than what's currently there. Let me know what you think. Subverdor (talk) 22:05, 9 May 2010 (UTC)
That is fine for right now, but there is actually a lot more to the argument than what I mentioned in the linked section. I just abridged it for time sake. I think you should still look the book up to fully appreciate the research and the stance that scholars have taken. You should be able to locate it in a local city or university library. --Ghostexorcist (talk) 22:11, 9 May 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I've read it -- it's on google books. I don't see any debunking. His argument seems to boil down to "there's little documentary evidence of Bodhidharma for hundreds of years after his supposed lifetime, therefore it isn't true." That seems plausible but not at all a disproof.
This is mostly just curiosity -- my personal judgement isn't particularly relevant here, any more than your personal feelings about the traditional account need to be included. What's in the WP article needs to be limited to summarizing reliable sources; if the historical consensus is that the traditional account is wrong (which I'm taking your word for), then just explaining that in the article is what's needed. WP is not the place for anybody to present arguments and proofs no matter how deeply held or popular their convictions are.
Subverdor (talk) 22:18, 9 May 2010 (UTC)

I looked over the scholarly account to try to delete some of the traditional account from it to reduce redundancy, and there's some in there that really makes zero sense to me. One of Hu's sources says:

Laozi and his Taoist doctrine; Chisongzi, a legendary being who controlled the rain and wind in the mythical age of Shennong and Chung Li-Zu, the first and the greatest of the Eight Immortals of Chinese mythology who possessed an elixir of immortality, are not superior to the precepts of this poetry.

... then Hu says:

Pan Wei implies that this system of exercises was performed by such legendary personages as Chisongzi and Chung Li-Zu.

Am I missing something? It sounds like Pan Wei is waxing lyrical about the power of the Yijin Jing by saying that it's more powerful than a sort of ancient god, and Hu somehow determines from that that (a) Hu thinks that rain and wind god *performed* these exercises, which isn't something Pan Wei actually says or implies or anything, (b) Hu thinks that if the rain and wind god performed these exercises in Pan Wei's understanding of some legend, then that would mean they weren't invented by Bodhidharma in the actual history, and (c) it's impossible that these exercises were performed by the rain and wind god and also brought to the Shaolin temple by Bodhidharma.

There are so many problems with Hu's logic above that I'm having trouble just explaining the problems in plain terms. I would just delete this part out-of-hand, but I worried that you might revert my edit as a whitewash. Can you explain to me in some sort of non-gibberish terms what Hu's argument is here and why it makes any sense? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Subverdor (talkcontribs) 03:41, 10 May 2010 (UTC)

Sorry it's taken me a while to get back to you, I've been busy with school work:
The reason I initally called it "whitewashing" is because 99% of the past objections to the scholarly material were made by people who had never actually looked into the history themselves. They just objected because it ran contrary to what they had heard in martial arts circles. Such objections have been made on the Shaolin Monastery, Shaolin kung fu, and Bodhidharma pages as well.
I personally don't agree with Hu's conclusion. To me, it seems like the source implies that the doctorine of Laozi and the Taoist longevity methods of the two immortals were not not superior to the Yi Jin Jing. The source Hu uses actually says they "are not superior to the precepts of this poety (the Yi Jinjing)." I don't see where he got the idea that Laozi or the immortals practiced this. --Ghostexorcist (talk) 23:46, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
"Never actually looked into the history" I would read as "unfamiliar with the opinions of modern historians", which is a very different statement :-). I objected precisely because what's here is contrary to what I "heard in martial arts circles", too -- I don't know a lot about the modern scholarship, but I've made an effort to educate myself on it, and my judgement is that most of these academics are rushing to conclusions about something they don't know all that much about. The traditional account can be doubted as well (obviously, since different versions of it are wildly inconsistent with each other), but presenting the historical account as the "truth" and preemptively defending it with a big collection of dubious "proofs" and appeals to authority is simply not an accurate way to communicate.
In any case, my opinion and yours don't really need to line up, because they don't really matter -- what matters is accurately summarizing the reliable sources. I may try to write a shortened version of the historical consensus as I understand it from your sources. Is there anything else I should be looking at to see what the historical consensus is?
Subverdor (talk) 05:03, 21 May 2010 (UTC)
Hu's take on the sources should not bias your thoughts on modern scholarship. His article was published 45 years ago in a martial arts magazine, which is not really the best source to begin with. Modern researchers like Meir Shahar have analyzed ancient stelae and documentation to disprove the connection. How exactly has he rushed to conclusions about something he doesn't know? He is a trained sinologist who has written numerous peer-reviewed books and papers on Chinese religion, culture, and martial arts. The points he raises about anachronisms and other fallacies are the reasons why scholars believe the prefaces were written after the times that are claimed. Most importantly, it is Li Jing’s preface that claims Bodhidharma created the exercise. Since the preface has been shown to be a forgery, the connection to Bodhidharma is false. Yes, there are different variations of the legend itself, but can you honestly name one version that is older than the one that Shahar and other scholars have consulted?
Even combined Hu’s articles are not very exhaustive and both leave out much detail. Therefore, the material in the proceeding section should not be looked at as “a big collection of dubious ‘proofs,’” but additional material not covered in Hu’s articles. Much of what I have seen is in line with what Shahar has presented in his book. You may have noticed that some sources are in Chinese. The authors are other specialists that have written on the subject as well. The views of such scholars are needed to show that the proposed erroneous nature of the Yi Jinjing is not just some fringe theory suggested by one person.
The whole article does need an overhaul, but, again, I don’t think you need to be making huge changes to the article since you are not fully read up on the subject. And I’ll admit that I am a bit troubled by your resistance to the evidence put forth by scholars too. You have an obvious slant towards the legend itself. I realize that you say that your opinion does not count, but this is the time to offer evidence that refutes this line of research. After all, the talk page is designed for the betterment of the article. If you can provide a source from a working scholar that has a counter argument, then you should mention it now.
Another source is this research paper by Stan Henning, a martial historian. He states the earliest mention of the particular legend where Bodhidharma physically taught the monks boxing was a political satire novel published in 1907 (This is the legend that is most quoted). Prior to this, the monk was just associated with the exercise. --Ghostexorcist (talk) 08:01, 21 May 2010 (UTC)
Instead of relying on the couple of quotes from Hu's article, I would prefer the following quote which I believe you might have deleted from the page already:

As for the 'Yi Jin Jing' (Muscle Change Classic), a spurious text attributed to Bodhidharma and included in the legend of his transmitting martial arts at the temple, it was written in the Ming dynasty, in 1624, by the Daoist priest Zining of Mt. Tiantai, and falsely attributed to Bodhidharma. Forged prefaces, attributed to the Tang general Li Jing and the Southern Song general Niu Gao were written. [...] Based on this, Bodhidharma was claimed to be the ancestor of Shaolin martial arts. This manuscript is full of errors, absurdities and fantastic claims; it cannot be taken as a legitimate source.

The part in "[...]" tells the same story from the popular legend. The quote pretty much covers the material in the proceeding section. All we have to do is elaborate on the reasons why scholars believe the prefaces are forgeries. We could do this in paragraph form instead of a list like the current section is. --Ghostexorcist (talk) 15:50, 21 May 2010 (UTC)
I think we're getting too much into details -- I'll respond to your points here, but we can argue indefinitely about each of these without improving the article. I don't want you think I'm not listening, but I'd much prefer if you read the new thread I'm starting below and responded to _that_ instead. Here's the point-by-point:
  • Hu's article formed the bulk of the previous section explaining the academic argument (with the WP article's editorial voice explaining how good a job it was doing of proving the falseness of the traditional account). If it's not good then the article should summarize some of the good sources.
  • I agree that I might not be the best person to summarize the academic argument; everyone's biased, and my bias is against the academics. What's up there now is way, way biased _towards_ the academics, though, which is also no good.
  • Stan Henning's article has a single mention of Bodhidharma which argues against a popular strawman (that Bodhidharma invented Shaolin "boxing" as opposed to the physical conditioning techniques) -- see my separate comment below for much more on why I see this as a strawman.
  • I did delete the text you cite (from the Bodhidharma article, not this one). I replaced it with which I believe to be an NPOV summary of much the same information (for example, explicitly stating that Bodhidharma was uninvolved with inventing self-defense technique, instead of setting up a strawman saying that Indian people say he invented Shaolin Kung Fu). I am still curious how Lin claims to know so specifically that the text was authored by a particular Taoist priest in a particular year. Also, see WP:NONENG; English-language WP should rely on English-language sources unless no alternative exists. If you have a problem with that edit, I think we should probably add a note to that article's talk page referring people to this talk page so we can have all the discussion in a single place (there are quite a few articles on which this dispute is currently being played out).
  • I don't see any discussion of anachronisms in Shahar; can you refer me to specifically where he discusses anachronisms? As I said before, I looked over his book, and it looks a lot like he's just sort of generally suspicious that things happened as described in the legend (with some somewhat well-founded reasons; the documented record doesn't really confirm the legend), but then suddenly jumps from that to saying that it must not have happened that way. I don't see him mention any case where the documented record actually _contradicts_ the legend; it just suspiciously fails to confirm it.
If you feel like responding to anything above, go ahead. I think the real way forward (as opposed to into an argument) is to come up with an NPOV summary of the academic account. The current summary is heavily biased; it stridently pushes the academic view and denigrates the traditional account, even in cases where to me it seems transparent that the academic view is ill-founded. You seem like you don't much like the current academic summary either. Are you willing to take a crack at resummarizing the academic arguments (and finding sources for the anachronism arguments that are up there now)?
Subverdor (talk) 19:54, 23 May 2010 (UTC)

I know all about the policy on non-English sources. The reason that I pushed the Chinese quote is because it is the most succinct. It mentions every reason why scholars believe the attribution is false in just a few sentences. There is no need to quote huge sections from a paper or book. It is not biased since it is a summation of the scholarly view on the subject. I found a similar quote in an English language book, but it does not mention everything:

This work bears an implausible attribution to Bodhidharma (c. 530 A.D.), the Chan monk from India famous for meditating “nine years facing a wall” in a cave at Shaolin; it is translated by Paramiti, a Tang monk from India, and includes an equally dubious preface by Niugao, a subordinate of General Yue Fei.

— Wells, Scholar Boxer, p. 18

If you are asking about what anachronisms and fallacies I am referring to, I have to seriously question whether you actually read Shahar’s book (and might I point out that looking at the few available scans on google books does not constitute reading the book). They are plainly laid out in the chapter referring to the Yijin Jing. Here are some of the points that were raised even by Qing Dynasty bibliographers:

  1. The Taihe reign period was attributed to the wrong emperor.
  2. The Indian sage Paramiti, who is claimed to have translated the text from Sanskrit to Chinese, wasn’t even born yet.
  3. The “Curly Bearded Hero” who gave Li Jing the manual is not a historical person, but a popular fictional character from Chinese literature.
  4. The Qing Dynasty scholar Ling Tinkang (1757-1809) described the author Zi Ning as an 'ignorant village master'. Not a fallacy, just important to note.

Here are some points raised by Shahar

  1. General Niu Gao could not have known about the posthumous temple name of Qinzhong, which was bestowed on the emperor some 20 years after the General supposedly wrote his preface to the manual.
  2. Niu Gao is presented as being illiterate. Points are given by Shahar that shows this was clearly influenced by later Chinese fiction.
  3. A popular legend is mentioned that post dates the time of the supposed writing of Niu Gao’s preface.
  4. The battle formation that Li Jing mentions in his preface is not real and is often associated with the general’s fictional persona in later Chinese literature.
  5. Various other aspects of the forged prefaces show similarities with later Chinese literature.

All of this material is covered in pp. 165-173. See the rest of my comments below. --Ghostexorcist (talk) 02:21, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

Okay, I've deleted Hu's argument there. It looks like a lot of the following section may be original research -- it's not permitted to present a line of argument on Wikipedia and then cite references for the facts involved in the argument, though it's fine to present an argument that's already been presented in a reliable source. Can you add references to sources that make these specific arguments where they exist? I'll give it a week or two and then plan to delete any argument that doesn't have a source associated with it.
Subverdor (talk) 15:18, 16 May 2010 (UTC)
I'll look through the proceding material to what is verifiable and what is OR. --Ghostexorcist (talk) 23:46, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

So ignoring the point-counterpoint above, here's my real point of view on the academic account and why I keep "resisting" it in your words:

This is the legend as I heard it personally: Bodhidharma traveled to the Shaolin temple because of a desire to practice there as a monk. When he arrived, he found that the monks were in such poor physical condition that it interfered with their spiritual practice; they would fall asleep while meditating, couldn't hold their concentration because of physical discomfort, and their lifespans and quality of life were affected by their ill health. The monks saw that as unimportant next to the deep importance of their spiritual practice, but Bodhidharma argued that their meditation and spirituality would benefit from improved physical health, and attempted to teach the monks some advanced physical conditioning techniques he had learned in India (an ancestor of modern Yoga). These techniques were "advanced" in the sense discussed in the story about the monk and Pramati; by practicing them correctly, a person could ensure startlingly good health, tremendous strength and physical ability, and a significantly extended lifespan. For his presumptuousness Bodhidharma was ejected from the temple by the senior monks (it didn't help that he was a wild-eyed, unkempt foreigner, a "blue-eyed barbarian"). He lived in a cave outside the temple for nine years, during which time his ideas gained some traction inside the temple (he had occasional contact during this time with monks visiting him half in secret). After nine years, he was readmitted to the temple and allowed to practice there, as well as to teach meditation and the physical conditioning techniques he had attempted to introduce before. The techniques he taught formed the foundation of a new way to practice Buddhism, incorporating physical maintenance of the body as well as meditation and spiritual practice into one integrated whole. That practice was cultivated and improved within the Shaolin temple (and elsewhere); much later, when the monks of the temple were threatened by bandits, sophisticated self-defense techniques were added to the whole, forming one line of traditional martial arts that has become justly famous.

I tell this story sometimes as a way to illustrate the nature of traditional martial arts: It's of key importance that meditation and spiritual practice came first, followed by physical practice to support the meditation, followed by self-defense technique to defend what had been so painstakingly developed. Many people look at the self-defense techniques as being of primary importance, but that's not the original purpose of the practice, and that's not what people who practice traditional styles spend the majority of their time on.

The reason I'm so blase about the academic sources is that they don't see things that way. I'm happy to learn more about the history from a source more reliable than centuries of word-of-mouth (with all its associated errors), but I'm reluctant to listen too closely to someone who doesn't seem to understand martial arts. The story I told above may have become riddled with errors in the last thousand years, but it's told by someone with understanding, whereas in the academic sources:

  • Frequently you'll hear that Bodhidharma "invented" the physical practice he taught to the monks; anyone who understands the depth and power of this type of practice would be surprised by that suggestion. Generally the way these movements are developed and refined is through several generations of painstaking trial and error; to suggest that someone personally invented certain techniques as opposed to applying and refining principles they learned from their teachers is not impossible, but it would be a surprising statement that wants further elaboration.
  • Many academics seem to think that Bodhidharma is credited with inventing sophisticated self-defense techniques and teaching them to the Shaolin monks; you'll see eager efforts to discredit the strawman that Bodhidharma "invented Shaolin kung fu" or some such. The practice that Bodhidharma taught, which continued after his death, and which modern Shaolin practitioners continue, focuses far more on physical conditioning than on fighting (although it's great for building fighting skill, or skill at sports, or many other things). Seeing what Shaolin monks do as "boxing" is a grevious error.
  • Academics aren't good at separating what seems to me to be obvious metaphor from what's supposed to be true but simply outside their experience. When it's written that Bodhidharma "faced the wall for nine years and made a hole with his stare," that seems to me to be someone's poetic way of being awestruck at his steely silent will, choosing to live in a cave for nearly a decade rather than give up on his goals (and eventually outstubborning a group of senior monks not known for their weak-mindedness). When it's written that Bodhidharma was over a hundred years old when he came to the temple, that's simply what's supposed to be possible if you practice the correct techniques sincerely and consistently. I see a lot of academics that seem to lump both of those (and a lot more) under "absurd Chinese legends" and throw out the whole lot.

So that's how I see things. I'm not "resisting" the academic sources, I'm just making my own judgements as to whether they're worth listening to. I realize that not everyone's going to see it that way, and the fact that I see things that way doesn't mean they need to be presented that way in the article, but you seem to think I'm somehow prejudiced against the academic sources. I would define my position more as what Carl Sagan calls "postjudice" :-).

Subverdor (talk) 19:54, 23 May 2010 (UTC)

Yes, I have heard that legend and its many variations before.
Many of today’s martial researchers are martial artists themselves. So this argument isn’t very valid. In fact, the first person to call attention to the manual’s erroneous nature was himself a martial artist. Tang Hao (1897-1959), the person in question, knew several Chinese and Japanese styles of fighting. He was so good at researching the history of Chinese MA that he was often consulted by other martial artists when they were aiming to publish their own training manuals.
Meir Shahar has shown that you do not have to be a martial artist in order to research the history of the fighting arts of Asia. His book has been positively peer-reviewed and has been celebrated in both the scholarly and martial communities.
You keep on referring to the legend about him physically creating boxing and teaching it to the monks as a “straw man” argument. This is not so. Whether you choose to believe it or not, there really is a widespread legend that he created Shaolin boxing. It was not something specifically created by scholars to be debunked in order to draw attention away from some perceived failure. Even the Chinese are aware of the legend. An example of this is a Chinese-produced movie about Bodhidharma's trials as a young man and his later creation of Shaolin Kung fu. You can watch it here on youtube. Stan Henning has noted in a past article that the legend of him creating Kung fu "is clearly a twentieth-century invention [because] writings going back at least 250 years earlier [...] mention both Bodhidharma and martial arts but make no connection between the two." The other legend about him leaving behind "guiding and pulling" exercises that were discovered and later practiced by the monks of Shaolin is the most original of the two.
You mention that the story of his image being burnt into stone is simply an allegory for his sure will and determination. If that is true, why is there a rock on display at the Shaolin monastery that bears his supposed image? This rock has been alluded to as far back as the 16th century. The following quote is from a 1977/1978 journal paper on Chinese art:

This matter is complicated by the fact that there were four possible sites at the Shao-lin-ssu where Bodhidharma was reported to have meditated "facing the wall." The earliest records place a stone under two feet tall with the "reflection" of Bodhidharma in the back hall of "Bodhidharma's Shrine" or in the "Facing the-Wall Shrine." From Ch'ing times on it was apparently moved elsewhere within the monastery grounds.

I hope this particular example shows that everything you thought you knew about the legend is not necessarily true.
The most damning evidence that kills the attribution of the Yijin Jing to Bodhidharma is the fact that the oldest records mentioning his activities in China not only postdate the supposed event, but don’t even mention him stepping foot on Shaolin grounds. Later and later records placed his activities closer and closer to the monastery until an 8th century composition placed him there. All of this is explained in Shahar's book. There are some researchers that even question his historicity and whether he was really the first patriarch of Chan Buddhism.
I am interested to find out exactly who these inept martial arts researchers are you keep on referring to. What are their names? --Ghostexorcist (talk) 02:21, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
Okay, I've reached my limit of arguing. I've explained my view to you, and you're starting to claim that I am "not really capable of debating the issue" and explicitly using phrases like "fighting arts" and "Shaolin boxing" in apparent rejection of what I'm trying to explain to you. That's fine; we can limit the discussion to sources and WP policy and abandon the attempt to build a common understanding. You should know that if you use the word "boxing" to a Shaolin practitioner to describe what he does, he will immediately decide that your qualifications as an authority on martial arts are exceedingly small.
Yes, I've heard about the rock. Burning his image into the rock is a different story than the story that he "made a hole [in the wall] with his stare," which is the one I was talking about.
I didn't say inept -- you can not understand martial arts and still be a good historian. The researchers I'm talking about are Hu (who I think is totally full of hot air and should be removed from the article) and Stan Henning (who doesn't make a distinction between "boxing" and Shaolin practice). I don't see anything similarly confused in Shahar, but I don't see anything that seems particularly "irrefutable." His tracing of the gradually growing documentation for the legend over time (which does tend to imply that it's untrue) is plausible but not at all airtight to me. I've said that before.
You've said that most of the arguments against the legend that are currently in the article are also in Shahar. You've also said that you don't like the Hu source (I don't either). It sounds like the thing to do is to remove the parts quoting Hu and add references to Shahar to the explanation of particular problems with the preface. Is that acceptable to you? Subverdor (talk) 05:34, 26 May 2010 (UTC)\
Frankly, you haven’t shown yourself capable of discussing the issue:
1. Your opinion on Shahar’s research is based on the few available scans on Google books. This is not the same as reading the entire book, consulting his sources, and taking in all of the information as a whole.
2. You look down on Henning because he doesn’t make some polite, ceremonial distinction between boxing and Shaolin arts. But what you don’t realize is he is simply commenting on the early 20th century legend that attributes “boxing” to Bodhidharma. This is completely separate from the 17th century legend that attributes the Taoist-based “guiding and pulling” exercises to the Buddhist saint. I have to honestly ask if you have read anything else by Henning beyond the paper I linked above. I certainly hope you aren’t basing your opinions on just one paper because that would show a pattern (Shahar’s book and now this) of you commenting on things with only partial knowledge on the subject.
3. You have yet to offer up any evidence from another academic (who is himself a martial artist or otherwise) that specifically refutes the current scholarly stance on the manual’s erroneous nature on a point-by-point basis.
4. You berate scholars for not being able to separate the “obvious metaphor” from the story regarding Bodhidharma staring a hole into stone. But when I told you about the physical stone on display at Shaolin that had been alluded to as far back as the 16th century, you claimed you already knew about it. Why would you criticize the scholars if you knew about the stone to begin with? I’m afraid that you can’t retroactively change your answer when you’ve been proven wrong. It’s obvious that the hole-in-stone story is based on the image-on-stone story. The latter predates the Yijin Jing.
Believe me when I say that I am not going to lose any sleep over what other martial artists think of my word usage. Boxing is used out of convenience. I know all about the spiritual nature of Shaolin practice. However, if you think it has no martial applications (i.e. boxing) you are fooling yourself. In fact, the only material presented in Shahar’s book that Henning objected to in his review was the expressed claim that Shaolin arts “had been broadly conceived for healing and spiritual realization.” He goes on to say: “I personally studied and have practiced Taijiquan and Xingyiquan and associated with the Chinese martial arts community in Taiwan and mainland China for more than thirty-five years and never got the sense that they were not created for fighting.”
Please explain to me why you think the anachronisms and fallacies listed in Shahars book are not irrefutable. It’s an “A + B = C” sort of deal. If the Indian Monk wasn’t born yet, he could not have translated it from Sanskrit to Chinese. This means no one would have been able to read it. If the “Curly Bearded Hero” was not a historical person, but a popular fictional character from a story that postdated Li Jing’s life, he would not have received the manual. (Li Jing lived from 571-649 and the story was written by Du Guangting (850-933). Li Jing's preface from the manual is dated 628, so how could a fictional character from 300 years in the future appear in the preface? How could Li Jing have even known about him?) And if Li Jing didn’t receive the manual, he would not have made the claim that Bodhidharma had written it. Another thing to point out is that, in regards to the preface written by the Niu Gao, Yue Fei never trained under a Shaolin monk when he was younger. Therefore, he would not have received the manual himself. If he didn’t receive it, he could not have passed it on to Niu Gao who wrote the manual's second preface. If Niu Gao didn’t get it, he couldn't have have hidden it. And if he didn't hide it, the Taoist Zi ning could not have discovered it as he claimed he did. This is air tight as far as I’m concerned.
I’m all in favor on relying on sources and policy. --Ghostexorcist (talk) 19:58, 30 May 2010 (UTC)
One thing I noticed from the Wikipedia:NPOVN discussion was that you seem to object to me saying that the origins of this text are unclear (and you've said before that you consider the authorship of this text by Zining in 1624 to be an established fact). Can you cite an English-language source or two for the authorship by Zining? I can make some effort to find sources for the statement that the origins are unclear if that would make you feel better about having the statement in the article.

Subverdor (talk) 15:56, 25 May 2010 (UTC)

Yes, here are some citations:
  • Shahar's book, p. 162
  • Kennedy, Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals, p. 95
  • Kang, The Spring and Autumn of Chinese Martial Arts, p. 62
Shahar is the only non-martial artist in the list. I hope this helps. --Ghostexorcist (talk) 02:21, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
Okay, I'll try to make some time to check these out. Can you summarize why it is that these scholars are sure that he wrote the text in exactly 1624? I'm surprised to hear anyone claiming to be certain about the authorship. Subverdor (talk) 05:34, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
Basically, his name appears on every original copy of the Yijin Jing. One manual carries the date 1624 in the author's preface. --Ghostexorcist (talk) 19:58, 30 May 2010 (UTC)

Original name[edit]

Anyone know the original sanskirt name of Yi jinjing? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:47, 16 March 2011 (UTC)

Please read the article, it is an entirely Chinese work produced during the 17th century. --Ghostexorcist (talk) 20:09, 16 March 2011 (UTC)

Is this some sort of joke? scholar ref... "black belt magazine" ?[edit]

"Research Refutes Indian Origin of I-Chin Ching". Black Belt Magazine"?


a large portion of this page has very little if any refs, If you have no refs to back up the information you have given, then the section will be deleted by next week. (talk) 12:02, 10 October 2014 (UTC)caplock

What is this supposed to imply? That a scholar stops being a scholar if a magazine you don't approve of invites them to present some of their findings to its readers? (talk) 12:47, 6 July 2015 (UTC)


This section does not say much about the possible origins of these exercises, and the relative merits of each argument. I've been sceptical of scholars so far. Or should I say, they may have the authority to discuss the precise status of a text as genuine/forgery, factually accurate/innacurate, but have less to say about the source of any exercise system. In fact, I've never given scholars much of a chance. So all I can do is say why I think I begin from such as sceptical position:

On this issue, and generally, I agree that there are just too many cases where investigation which relies on written sources is going to produce no knowledge. Scholars merely argue about which guess sounds more plausible. Was it worth listening to the Western scholars who described the Tibetan kingdom of Zhang Zhung and its ancient languge as "myths"? No; it was just their best guess, never knowledge. (We now know that tradition was correct in that case.)

Scholars aren't always in a position to make even an educated guess. If martial historians only understand what they see, they will miss that you can perform exactly the same physical movements in a manner identical to the observer, and yet actually be performing entirely different exercises each time. How much are scholars going to learn from studying ancient documents with pictures and elliptical texts, without actually finding a qualified teacher willing to explain the inner aspects?

It sounds incredible to me that Yi Jin Jing would be a form of Dao Yin. From what I know about the principles of Dao Yin, Indian Yoga and the Yi Jin Jing/Shaolin martial arts, I conclude that the Shaolin Temple claim sounds far more plausible: "Yi Jin Jing it is a mixture of Yoga and Kalaripayattu, an ancient Indian Martial Art from Kalari."

(This in only my list based on what I have come across, but four entirely different philosophies are: 1) leading blocked energy outwards, often through lively but gentle extension of the body (the word "stretch" is not appropriate) but sometimes just with the mind. 2) Dissolving blockages in with the mind/awareness, usually while the physical body is in an extremely relaxed state 3) Using tension to generate heat which burns away/transforms the blockages. 4) Using sudden force to drive blockages out.

They are different philosophies, associated with different times and places. And the skills that practioners developed all became part of Chi Gung. Pretty much all the main SKILLS known fron the history of Chinese exercises found there way into the original Yang Tai Chi and Dong Hai Chuan's Bagua.)

The key to taking seriously the notion that these exercises are foreign, as the Shaolin Temple claims, and not based on what existed in China to that date is what I wrote before: Dao Yin movements performed with Shaolin principles is not Dao Yin exercise, it is Shaolin exercise. A scholar who doesn't see that there are new principles in operation, because they do not undertand the principles of these exercises, will not be asking the question: where did these new principles come from?

I think any theory is possible, including the one favoured by the Communists. But anything that knowledgeable practioners tend to reject, I also would be sceptical of.

Historically, I think there was a bias for outsiders to go to extremes and either be entirely credulous and believe everything (especially if it is fantastical) or consider that, before they came along and applied their methods of assesing evidence, all that existed was ignorance and confusion.

And the level of knowledge of Chi Gung/Nei gung available to the West is changing at such a pace that if I were to recommend my top 12 books, most were published in the past 5 years (by very knowledgeable practitioners). So, I'm not sure how much knowledge of these living traditions was available to earlier scholars. (talk) 02:31, 31 May 2015 (UTC)

What should the article be about? A text or a qigong set?[edit]

Coming back to this: I'd say there are two seperate articles that have been put on the same Wikipedia page. There is nothing useful about having them share a page.

The second article is about the exercise system known as Yijin Jing curently taught at the Shaolin monastry and widely practiced by kung fu students around the world, as well as the many in China and abroad who practice it for health. For anyone interested in learning about this exercise system, including its traceable and claimed-but-unprovable origins, I would imagine that the preceeding section is unhelpful. This section already contains some discussion of the theories of the more distant origins of these exercises and I think, with some brief additions on the disputed Damo connection, it would be able to stand as a complete article.

That would leave the other article, which is discussion by historians about a text (or group of texts) and its origin and status. This could either have its own wikipedia page or disappear. (For anyone interested in working on that - or even just reading about it - there was a lot of information on the page in early versions, eg. 2006.) - In fact, most references to what the text contains have been removed by various editors leaving just the debate about the texts provenance. Which is part of what makes it seem like this page seem so disjointed. (talk) 21:20, 6 July 2015 (UTC)

I don't see the two topics (the text and the exercises) as being separable. They're inextricably linked. The differing perspectives of historians and practitioners are part of an ongoing debate that should be reflected in the article. Splitting it into two would simply lead to even greater divergence in the two perspectives. I think it's more valuable for the debate to take place in one place than for practitioners and historians to each have their own articles where they can focus on just the part that interests them without having to engage intellectually with one another. In reply to the last part of your comment, I would welcome more additions related to the contents of the text, and agree that there is currently a lopsided focus on its authenticity/origins. --diff (talk) 23:45, 6 July 2015 (UTC)

Inconsistency of the time data with other articles[edit]

You say, that: "The Yijin Jing appears to be the source for two other popular Qigong forms which are also attributed to various authors. Both the Eighteen Luohan Hands (also associated with Shaolin) and the Eight Pieces of Brocade (Baduanjin) forms seem like abridged versions of Yijinjing sets."

Tho, this is in contradiction with the article on Baduajin, quoting: "This exercise is mentioned in several encyclopedias originating from the Song Dynasty. The Pivot of the Way (Dao Shi, c. 1150) describes an archaic form of this qigong." (taken from Baduanjin qigong).

After reading the part of Modern Scholarly Research, which (unintentionally?) suggests that Yijin Jing is rather new, this makes no sense. I suggest either making this article clearer, or it's removal. Chemikalia (talk) 00:39, 3 January 2016 (UTC)

The text you quoted from Baduanjin article is correct. That exercise is, as far as we know, older. This article is internally inconsistent to begin with, having been written by a succession of editors with differing views. It's not a suprise that it also contradicts other articles on Wikipedia. I'm going to do a little cleanup to fix the issue you brought up. --diff (talk) 01:26, 3 January 2016 (UTC)