The Historic 36th chamber and 18 wooden warriors of Lohan Hall in a southern province, Shaolin Temple, is shrouded in some mystery, for they were destroyed in the early 1700’s. In the movie, Kung Fu, with David Carradine the last part of this test was depicted with the 500 pound urn filled with red hot coals that burn the mark of the Dragon and the Tiger into the fore-arms as the urn is moved in order to pass and graduate.

It is said that many students did not survive the hall of wooden warriors and this in turn caused a lot of students to run away. But those that did pass the test, bore the symbol on the fore-arm and became teachers themself. Below is a description of each of the 18 wooden warriors and what you had to do to pass each one.

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The Fukien or southern Siu Lam (Shaolin) temple was built on Gau Lin Shan in Fukien province near the border of Gwan Dung Province. Built in 1399 a.d. during the Ming dynasty, the temple became known as “South Siu Lam/ Shaolin” before being utterly destroyed during the Qing (1644-1911 a.d.) dynasty.

The abbot Jee Sim Sim See (Sim See means Zen master) put Hung Yan Sim See in charge of thirty six chambers. Here, Siu Lam’s (Shaolin) warrior monks and unshaven disciples learned the Siu Lam (Shaolin) martial arts in a step by step manner, not advancing until each skill had been mastered. An “unshaven disciple” was a person who stayed at the temple primarily to study the martial arts and did not take Buddhist vows and become a monk. Jee Sim is also credited with devising the “wooden dummy hall”. (Lohan Hall)

The wooden dummy hall was erected in the Lohan Tung or Buddha hall. The eighteen wooden dummies purpose was to test the kung fu skill of potential graduates. The dummies names and movements were as follows:

01 – Lohan Or Ga Yit:
When the student entered, this dummy was in a seated position holding a monk’s ornamental staff. As the student approached, the dummy swung the weapon toward the middle of the student’s body. If the student retreated, the dummy would close, swinging the weapon faster and faster until the rear wall was reached. The student in this case would have to either duck or jump over the weapon which would shatter the student’s bones if it connected. If the student avoided the blow, he was expected to kick the dummy over, defeating it. All of these dummies were activated by the pressure of the students weight on the floor. Also, defeating all the dummies was achieved similarly by knocking them over.

02 – Lohan Or Lan Tor:
The dummy is seated with its hands together as if in prayer. The student is alternately punched and kicked by this dummy. The blows must not be directly blocked because contact with the dummy would result in broken bones. The student must avoid the blows and knock the dummy over.

03 – Lohan Mook Jit Lin:
One foot of the dummy is on top of a lion with the other standing on the floor. This dummy tries to use a low sweeping kick to hit the student. Once it starts, the move is repeated, faster and faster while rushing toward the student. The correct response is to use a jumping kick to floor the dummy while avoiding the sweep at the same time.

04 – Lohan Seh Lei Fut
This dummy stands holding a staff in the right hand and holding its left hand at the breast. It uses the staff to block the student ‘s path and attacks with the free hand. The student must lock the arm and sweep the dummy to down it.

05 – Lohan Ah Lah Luet:
This dummy stands holding a begging bowl. It tires to slam the bowl on the student’s head. If the bowl land precisely, the student will be unable to easily removie it. Avoiding the initial attack is the most essential element in defeating the dummy.

06 – Lohan Seui Pou Tai:
This dummy stands holding prayer beads. When approached, the dummy tries to hit the student in the abdomen. Suddenly, the beads are swung towards the student’s head. The second blow was designed to catch the student unaware as he was trying to stop the first blow.

07 – Lohan Fu Lao La:
The dummy stands with a wine cup in its left hand. The dummy strikes with one hand using drunken style and then throws the cup at the student. The student must avoid these movements and immediately counter.

08 – Lohan Ga Jim Ting:
As it is approached, the dummy stands erect. If the student comes close, the dummy uses a low kick against the student. The dummy must be kicked down before it can continue its attack which becomes faster & faster.

09 – Lohan Fuk Law Lei:
The dummy stands in a bow and arrow stance facing the student. When the student comes into range, the dummy attacks with repeated thrust punches to the body. The student must sidestep to kick the dummy over.

10 – Lohan Dat Mo:
The dummy is seated sideways holding a book. If the student tries to pass, the dummy throws a sidekick as the student goes by. If he can avoid the kick, the student must fell the dummy from behind.

11 – Lohan Chung Haw:
The dummy stands holding a head sized temple bell. As the student approaches, the bell is thrown. The student must avoid the bell.

12 – Lohan Jang Chan
The dummy sits facing the student holding a book next to a pile of stones. The student is shot with projectiles that shoot out of the head of the dummy. The difficulty is in trying to close in on the dummy while it shoots these projectiles.

13 – Lohan Dou Shuen:
The dummy is holding a staff, but is making awkward, stupid looking movements. This is an attempt to lure the student into thinking that the dummy is not functioning properly. The student is attacked as soon as he attempts to go by. The student is expected to be able to avoid such surprise attacks.

14 – Lohan Yan Lang:
The dummy stands looking at the ground. When the student stands on the proper part of the floor, the dummy will thrust its fingers towards the student’s eyes. Students failing this test did not graduate for obvious reasons.

15 – Lohan Hung Lung Sau:
This dummy holds a shiny begging bowl. Suddenly, the student has a blinding light in his face. As soon as this happens, the dummy throws a barrage of blows. The key point is not to get blinded by the light reflected from the bowl. If the student is not blinded, the dummy may be kicked over relatively easily.

16 – Fuk Fu Lohan:
The dummy stands on one foot on the back of a tiger. In one of it’s hands is a large ring. The dummy tries to put the ring over the student’s head while kicking him from below. The student must avoid the ring in order to not get kicked in the groin.

17 – Lohan La Gum Luet:
The dummy stands holding a monk’s spade. The dummy charges while spinning the spade in a figure eight pattern. The student who had stopped was considered eligible for graduation.

18 – The final step
The door to the hallway leading out of the Lohan La Gum Luet was blocked by a one hundred fifty pound urn containing hot coals with the mark of the tiger head/dragon body on the handles. The student had to hug the urn with their forearms. This branded him with the mark of a Sui Lam master. The highest experts had marks only on one arm, having used one arm to lift the urn.

Many great teachers were trained at this temple. After the end of the Ming dynasty, the Ming loyalists used this temple as the headquarters in Southern China. Eventually, the Qing Emperor Hong Hei (1662-1723 a.d.) found this out and ordered two generals Chan Man Yiu and Jeung Gim chao to take three thousand soldiers and rout the temple. General Chan Man Yiu knew well the reputation of the Siu Lam people had earned for their martial arts.

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The Temple was burned to the ground, every monk; except five were killed. These five survivors seperated and each kept the Art alive. They were Wu Dak Dai, Choy Dak Jung, Lei Sik Hoi, Fong Dai Hung, and Ma Chiu Hing.

Many movies have been made where the wooden warriors theme was dipicted, such as “The 36th Chamber,” “Kung Fu,”  and lots more in the Asian film industry.

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source:  Kung Fu Fever, Shaolin 18 wooden men                                             Header Picture: Gaiaonline.com                                                                               Lower Pic; Shaolin Warriors                                                                                           Two wooden warriors with Shaolin monk; KingFilms.TV  

  Tiger and Dragon picture        Shaolin with sword                                              Monk meditates on one leg                                                                           

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~Life is a training ground for the tests that will come~

(~_~)

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