Shaolin Temple was founded by Khmers and Teaches Silat

In Uncategorized on October 1, 2011 at 6:27 am

Stupid story number 1,0328 that I have heard on my martial arts journey.

By Antonio Graceffo

A Silat master told me this: “Shaolin Kung Fu is actually Silat, a Muslim martial art. The Shaolin temple is in Yunnnan where the people are Muslim. The people learned Silat, then built the temple, and later the Chinese government forced the temple to become Buddhist for nationalistic reasons.”

My reaction: First, the Shaolin Temple is not in Yunnan, which sooo many people think because they are idiots and can’t speak Chinese or use a map. If you google search right now, you will find articles, even by people who have been to the temple, putting the temple in Yunnan. But actually the temple is in Henan, which means, “South of the river” and is hundreds if not thousands of miles away from Yunnan. Occasionally people put the temple in “The Hunan Province,” as did the Kung Fu TV show with David Carradine. Although China has a Hunan province, the temple is not located there. It is in Henan.

The Shaolin temple was built around 477 AD, about 100 years before the birth of Islam. Furthermore, Islam didn’t travel to China till the 7th century AD. The oldest records of Silat are in Indonesia, not Malaysia, and are from the 5th or 6th century. It is generally accepted that there are documented and reliable records of Chinese martial arts, pre-dating all but Indian martial arts.

The history of Kung Fu coming to China is quite well documented. Bodhidharma (also called Da Mo in Chinese) a Buddhist monk, came from India in 464 AD to spread Buddhism. He is credited with founding the Kung Fu at Shaolin Temple.

The only controversy seems to be that many Indian historians point out that as a monk, Bodhidharma would have been trained in Indian martial arts. As a result, they claim that Chinese Kung Fu is based on Indian martial art. To date, there is no clear-cut evidence of this. As an observer, however, if you watch Indian martial art, it does not bear any similarity to Chinese Kung Fu.

As for the Silat connection, I have lived in Shaolin Temple and it is quite clearly a Buddhist temple and not some other religion.

When I told these facts to the master, he was taken aback. “This is why this type of history needs to be written down, so people will not get confused.” He said. I responded with “It was written down. That is how I know it.”

Stupid story number 1,0329: Bodhidharma was Cambodian. He brought Bokator to China, founded Shaolin Temple, and it became Kung Fu.

This story was told to me by a Cambodian Bokator master (Not San Kim Saen). He told me, “King Jayavarman VII and Bodhidharma were classmates. King Jayavarman VII taught Bokator to Bodhidharma who then went to China, brining both Bokator and Buddhism with him.

My reaction: Buddhism didn’t become the national religion of Cambodia until the 13th century, basically toward the end of the Angkorian Empire. This means, Buddhism in China predates Buddhism in Cambodia by about 800 years. Also, the Buddhism practiced in Cambodia is Theravada, whereas in China it is Mahayana.

King Jayavarman VII wasn’t born until 1225. If he and Bodhidharma had known each other, Bodhidharma would have been 800 years old, and probably would not have been able to learn Bokator.

And once again, at a glance, there is no connection between Chinese Kung Fu and Cambodian Bokator. Also, it helps that China and India have some of the best historical written records in the world, whereas Cambodia has almost no written history and not a single document to support this theory.

When I presented these facts to the Bokator Master he protested: “You can’t possibly know our history, you are not Khmer.” I had no argument for that statement. He was right, I was not Khmer, but in this argument, I think that adds to my credibility.

Stupid story number 1,0330: Khmers invented English Boxing

The main rational for this is that one of the Khmer words for fight is “bok” like in the word “Bokator” or “wybok”. And it was clear to some Khmers on the internet that the English word “boxing” was derived from the Khmer word “bok.” The French took this word back to Europe and somehow, it made its way into the English language. But then, as part of a Western conspiracy to discredit Cambodia, the entire West decided to claim that England invented English boxing. And everyone from Japan to Russia, to France and America all colluded in writing a false history of boxing.

The introduction of western boxing rules, the ring, gloves, and round-timer by the French in Cambodia is well established. It was in the 1920’s that these western elements were added to Khmer Boxing. Not once, in all of my association with professional boxing and Khmer boxing in Cambodia, did any authority argue this fact.

But, assuming that the French records of introducing the ring and such were falsified, let’s look at the history of boxing.

Men have engaged in prize fighting for literally thousands of years. There are records and paintings dating back to Mesopotamia of men prize fighting. So, neither Cambodia nor Thailand should claim to have invented prize fighting.

The oldest use of the word “boxing” was in a British newspaper in the 1750’s. This predates France’s involvement in Cambodia by 100 years. Even if we believe that France was in possession of a time machine, and went to Cambodia, learned about English boxing, then brought the word back to Europe, WHY would the word be English, rather than French? The “ing” ending is clearly English and not French. Why would French time travelers, bouncing between 1750 and 1850 use an English word for a new sport? And why, after all of their time-traveling toil, why would they credit it the invention of boxing to England and not France? It’s not that England and France have much love for each other.

And since the beginning of this world wide conspiracy, why has France never come forward and tried to discredit England?

On youtbe now, I have been attacked, on the same video, by Thais, for being pro-Khmer, and by Khmers, for being pro Thai. One Khmer actually asked me, “Which side are you on?” The answer is, I am pro truth. You can’t just make up some history and then take pride in it. The other pathetic thing about all of the debate about who invented muay Thai is that it doesn’t bloody matter. Neither Thailand nor Cambodia ever invented anything else” the steam engine, locomotive, automobile, airplane, computer, google, microwave popcorn, democracy, capitalism, Velcro… AND ENGLISH BOXING all came from the west.

Antonio Graceffo is self-funded and needs donation to continue his writing and video work. To support the project you can donate through the paypal link on his website,

Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a martial arts and adventure author living in Asia. He is the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.

Warrior Odyssey, the book chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia is available at The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at


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  1. Some people believe Silat has its roots in Hindu culture in fact, the muslims took over many of the regions where silat was practiced and converted the people to islam.


    • You are absolutely correct! Shaolin was founded by Buddhist, not muslim scum! And Kung Fu was here long before Silat!

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