What are the 18 Luohan Hands?
Here is an introduction to the history, philosophy, and practice of The 18 Luohan Hands. In romanized Chinese, the 18 Luohan Hands is written Shiba Luohan Shou, which is pronounced as follows: • Shi (like the word “ship” but without the “p”) • Ba (rhymes with “La”, ) • Luo (rhymes with “claw”) • Han (rhymes with “con”) • Shou (sounds like “show”) The word Luohan comes from the Sanskrit word Arhat. Both words refer to a person who has cultivated a high level of spirituality. After the Buddha passed away roughly 2500 years ago, 500 of his top disciples gathered together in a grand council. Together, they reviewed and discussed his teachings word by word. These disciples became known as the 500 Arhats. When Buddhism spread from India to China, there were some cultural adjustments. For example, the Chinese paid special homage to 18 of the 500 Arhats. Statues of these 18 Luohan are often found in Buddhist temples today. When Bodhidharma taught at the Shaolin Temple (roughly 1000 years after the passing of the Buddha), he chose to pay homage to these 18 Luohan, perhaps in an effort to reach across the cultural divide. So he named a set of Qigong techniques after them. The word Shou means “hands”, but refers to the 18 techniques. So a figurative translation would be the 18 Techniques of the Enlightened Ones. Over time, the 18 Luohan Hands evolved into the 18 Luohan Fists. Here, “fists” also refers to the techniques, but implies that they are not just for health. In other words, it was a form of Kung Fu. This was the birth of Shaolin Kung Fu, a martial art that would become legendary. The 18 [...]