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The Shaolin Temple was built sometime around 500 AD. That's over 1,500 years ago!
Let’s Start in the Early 1900s
In the early 20th century, the Shaolin Temple was burned down as warlords fought to control the area around Deng Feng and the Song Shan mountains.
The picture above was taken in 1907, about two decades before it was burned down. It is the earliest discovered picture of the main Shaolin Temple entrance today. This entrance is called the Mountain Gate.
The Mountain Gate of the Shaolin Temple today is refurbished and improved. The surrounding areas have also been beautified.
During the Mao Zedong era from the 1950s to mid 1970s, Shaolin Temple was shut down and the last remaining monks who refused to leave were put in jail. These were known as the Last Great Elders.
But after the Mao Zedong era came to an end in the mid 1970s, the Last Great Elders helped to rebuild the Shaolin Temple.
The picture above shows the Last Great Elder Shi Su Xi on the left. Next to him is Shifu Shi Guo Song who grew up at the Shaolin Temple and learned all the secrets there. After many years of tough training, he came to Canada with the goal of spreading the Shaolin Arts.
The first time Shaolin set foot in Canada was 1995. In the photo above you can see the monks are on Centre Island. Shifu Guo Song is in the bottom left in the classical Shaolin Eagle pose.
Shifu Guo Song began to take students in 2007 and 4 years later, Master Dao Shi because one of his first disciples.
The Beginning of Our Downtown School
Our downtown Toronto school begins with Master Dao Shi.
He received the blessings from his master to begin teaching in the downtown area. So in September of 2011, Shifu Dao tested the downtown area with qigong lessons inside a photography studio, just south of Spadina and Dundas. With some minimal advertising he was able to attract his first 6 students.
As people's interest grew in learning traditional Shaolin qigong and kung fu martial arts, he rented his first school location nearby in Chinatown. By early 2015, Shifu Dao’s school on Spadina grew to over 70 students.
Shifu Dao then moved his school to the present day location on the east side of Chinatown near the Art Gallery of Ontario. This new location was roughly 5 times bigger, allowing for more programs and students, as well as providing a comfortable environment for training.
In 2019, two branches of the downtown Toronto school were opened up. One is lead by Jiao Lian Ro at the Toronto East location, and the other lead by Jiao Lian Paul at the Mississauga East location.
By 2020, the total student base had grown to almost 300 people.
When the COVID pandemic hit, the school was forced to temporarily close. Master Dao then developed an online on-demand learning platform at learnshaolin.com. This made it possible for people anywhere in the world to learn Shaolin arts in a traditionally structured way. Together with live Virtual Classes, new and existing students were able to training uninterrupted.
We are excited to continue our adventure and look forward to involving more people so they too can benefit from the arts!