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Bodhidharma was from the Brahman caste of South India and honored as the 28th Patriarch of Buddhism. Arriving at Shaolin Temple around 520 AD, Bodhidharma sought to become enlightened. He found a nearby cave and meditated for nine years, constructing the Chan Buddhism philosophy of China. The practice of Mahayana wall-gazing as a type of meditation is ascribed to Bodhidharma and the Lankavatara Sutra is one of the fundamental Chan texts in relation to Bodhidharma. It is said that Bodhidharma was also expert at martial arts and in particular a master of sitting-meditation technique.

Many different sources will tell you that the origins of today's martial arts stem from the Bodhidharma, an Indian monk that traveled to China to spread his beliefs. It is said that the Shaolin monks of China adapted many of the martial skills taught by the Bodhidharma. The Shaolin monks used these skills to allow their bodies to develop as well as their psychological and medidational skills.