Thirteen Shaolin Monks Rescue the Tang Emperor

(First; here is a link to a very good zen-story called; opportunity By Brio Keegan, @ His blog, ‘The Loudest Heartbeat’… I promise, you won’t be disappointed. I enjoyed this story very much.)

Now for today’s lesson, History!

As the Sui Dynasty gave way to the Tang Dynasty in 621, Wang Shicong, a Sui general under the assumed title Prince Zheng, was engaged in a fierce battle with the Tang army led by Li Shimin in Henan’s Songshan Mountain area.

After several days fighting the Tang army sent a message to the Shaolin Temple begging for help. The temple authorities who has always resented the seizure of their land by Wang Shicong, responded immediately with only 13 monks. Headed by Tan Zong, Zhi Choa and Hui Yang, the cudgel-bearing monks-soldiers descended the mountains and they fulfilled their mission- they ambushed and routed the Zheng army, capturing Wang Shicong’s nephew and rescuing Li Shimin.

After Li ascended the throne, he rewarded the Shaolin monks handsomely, the cudgel has since become Shaolin’s most celebrated weapon and the “rescue of the Tang emperor by Shaolin monks” a widely circulated episode from the history of the monastery. Shaolin monks have since taken part in many campaigns.

(This is one of my favorite stories and there are several different asian movies about this event, “The Thirteen Shaolin Fighting Monks of the Songshan Mountain Monastary“. I always tell my students this story, about being out numbered and or the under-dog. Courage to do what needs to be done in the face of fear. This is as real as it gets, no tournament, no exhibition, there were 13 men against an army of what is said to be ten thousand and some say one thousand but the numbers are so many against so few. It reminds me of King Leonidas and the Spartans against the Persian army)


(moral; with dedication and will anything is possible, these 13 fighting monks (like modern day special forces) were able to defeat this entire army and rescue the prince. This is a very well known story and as stories go, there are different versions. But the one main stay-is; there were only 13 monks against an army. There is nothing more powerful than a focused mind. (it was a focused mind that made the atom bomb)  and like the mother lion, don’t mess with her cub, no matter who you are.)

This is the actual monastary in the Songshan Mountain Monastary. In this courtyard is a large block of rock with the names of the thirteen shaolin monks who fought the Sui general etched in it.


…on one of these stones is the names of the thirteen monks. I read where it said that some of the names are no longer legible. But the names are embedded in their history of the thirteen shaolin fighting monks (thirteen dragons) that defeated General Wang in 621 A.D.

have a historical day