At the foot of the Song Shan (Song Mountain), built approximately 495 AD, lies Shao-Lin Ssu, the Shao-Lin temple. Legend states that the Shao-Lin monks hired instructors to teach them self defense skills to help them ward off bandits. With determination and focus the monks grew stronger. Learning, collecting, and developing many different forms and styles of fighting arts. Thus, the legend of the Shao-Lin Fighting Monks was born!

The Legend Begins

It was in the sixth century (approximately 520 AD) that Ta Mo, known in India as Bodhidharma, made his way from India to the Shao-Lin Temple. There, he taught the Shao-Lin monks the 49 postures of the I Chin Ching, the “Muscle Change Classic”. Throughout the centuries that followed, the Shao-Lin monks added to and perfected their art, as it spread to other temples and monasteries . The monks of the Fukien, Shantung, Omei, Kwangtung, Wutang, and Hua Mountain temples focused their attentions on various aspects of the art. Northern and Southern Fist, Shantung Black Tiger, Fist of Hua Mountain, White Crane, Iron Hand Training, Tai Chi Chuan, Pa Kua Chang, and including a wide variety of long and short range weapons are just a few of the styles and training methods practiced.

Shao-Lin Kung Fu still exists today, over fifteen hundred years after Ta Mo’s arrival at the Shao-Lin Ssu. His 49 postures of the I Chin Ching and much of the subsequent material has survived. The Shao-Lin Art has prevailed despite various attempts to eradicate it. The Shao-Lin Monastery is still standing and allows visitors, as does the cave where Ta Mo is believed to have meditated for nine years.


The Caldwell Shaolin Center began in 2003 and has been in business for over 14 years. Head instructor, Associate Master Russell Lesko, is a 5th degree black belt certified under Grandmaster Sin Kwang Thé to teach the art of Shao-Lin.

Master Russ started his training in 1997 in Boise, Idaho under Elder Master John Keller. For over 20 years he has devoted his time to training in Shao-Lin’s various fighting styles and training techniques. To  this day he continues his training directly with Elder Master Keller as well as annual training with the Shao-Lin Grandmaster.