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Taming the Dragon - Lohan No. 17

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  • Taming the Dragon - Lohan No. 17

    As I do not manage to get the text displayed here correctly - there are unreadable letters despite the preview looks good - the article gets posted as word.docx.

    Update - this version is amended, slightly reformulated and some typos corrected, again:


    From the Content:

    What do you do when you encounter a Dragon?

    Is a Chinese 'long' really an English 'Dragon' or is it mistranslated?

    Dragon in Chinese Culture

    Dragon in Zen

    From Mahakasyapa (First Patriarch of Zen) to the 17th of the 18 Lohan (Arhats)

    Lohan No. 17 'Taming Dragon Lohan'

    Huineng - 6th Patriarch of Chinese Chan Buddhism - and the Dragon in a pond in front of Baolin temple

    Ji Gong - 'Drunken Monk' and Reincarnation of Mahakasyapa/Taming Dragon Arhat

    Chinese Literature - The journey to the West: Monkey King Sun Wukong with the power to subdue dragons and tame tigers

    Chinese Art Depictions - Arhat taming the Dragon

    It's mainly just quoted from sources from the internet with the given links.

    This way, when checking back here from time to time there is not always my old topic from two years ago as last post under this section...

    With Kung Fu Salute



    No. 9 = 'Ride Dragon Strike Tiger':

    Attached Files
    Last edited by MichaelS; 5 December 2019, 03:02 PM.

  • #2
    This has only seen 2 views for the Word document, but 87 views of the post. So, I suppose, that many cannot download a word document due to different reasons. So, here in a series of posts some 'bites' each from the material.

    The 18 Lohans or 18 Arhats are a number of Buddhist Immortals so to say. This legacy informed Kung Fu and Chi Gung. It's in the 18 Lohan Hands for example, or in Lohan Kung Fu.

    Lohan No. 17 is called 'Taming Dragon Lohan' and he is a sort of restoration of Mahakasyapa, the first Patriarch of Zen.

    Traditionally, a four liner is associated with Taming Dragon Arhat:

    'In the hands are the spiritual pearl and the holy bowl,

    Endowed with power that knows no bounds.

    Full of valour, vigour and awe-inspiring dignity,

    To succeed in vanquishing the ferocious dragon.'

    Lohan No. 17 = Restored Mahakasyapa is a dragon slayer and vanquishes, subdues or tames the dragon.


    1. The Head of Mahakasyapa, from the 1000-Buddha-Grottos of Kizil -


    2. Taming Dragon Lohan defeating black dragon, Fresko in the Northern Shaolin Temple:

    Last edited by MichaelS; 31 December 2019, 06:38 AM. Reason: edit


    • #3
      Interlude - returning theme:

      There is a Monkey, some call him a King, some call him a God, some call him Sichangung

      Is the Monkey King the world's most popular superhero?

      'Cloud-leaping, shape-shifting, demon-killing and magic staff-wielding, the Monkey King is perhaps the most enduring figure in Chinese literature and folklore. He is the ultimate bad boy made good - he causes havoc in heaven, uproar under the sea, returns from the dead to continue his mischief, and even survives the fires of heaven. He is so powerful, only the Buddha can subdue him...' - at least in the Buddhist version of things … -
      Last edited by MichaelS; 31 December 2019, 07:21 AM.


      • #4
        Is 'Dragon' an equivalent translation and expression for Chinese 'long' ?

        'The long of China has a history (and etymology) of several thousand years and there are, according to linguist Michael Carr, more than 100 classical ones. Linguistically, it's a tragedy that many Chinese people, I mean the well-educated, English-speaking ones, are so readily prepared to call the long 'dragons' - that's like voluntarily abandoning one's culture.

        For too long, the West has engaged in cultural pseudo-studies, making everyone believe that the Chinese language (all languages, really) just transports Western meanings uttered in some inconceivable foreign tongue. The reality is, if cultural studies were science, the vocabularies of this world would add up, not overlap. Translation is something else.

        The truth is, the Chinese long are majestic, divine creatures, snake-bodied (snake is often called a xiaolong (xiao means 'little' or 'small') and embody happiness, wisdom and virtue. In the West, on the other hand, it's a virtue to slay the dragon for a happy ending. If the European 'dragon' had been on the Yellow Emperor's mind, what sort of people the 'children of long' would have turned out to be?

        Yet, if they used the correct word, long, it would remind them that they are facing something culturally new. And, finally, they would also be able to say the names of China's beloved kungfu stars correctly: Bruce Lee (Li Xiaolong) and Jacki Chan (Cheng Long).

        You must protect your traditions. This is true for all people. English as a global language is fine but, ideally, only if it accommodates all concepts and all cultures ever produced.

        Embrace the differences and varieties of cultures and value those concepts that matter the most.'

        'If the European 'dragon' had been on the Yellow Emperor's mind, what sort of people the 'children of long' would have turned out to be?'

        'Dragon' has very different connotations and representations then Chinese 'long'. Whether it is a good idea and without negative impact, that in Kung Fu circles (and other) 'Dragon' is adopted quite un-reflected and people associate themselves and others with it, like 'I'm a Dragon'; 'He is now more a Dragon'; and whether they can distinguish the different adjectives/qualities associated to 'dragon' vs. 'long' in their subconscious, as well as cultural idiomatic expressions like 'She's a Dragon' with quite negative connotations when used for a woman, stands to question in my view. If you give 'Kid's Kung Fu' classes, do they learn about the cultural differences and different qualities?

        - t.b.c. -
        Last edited by MichaelS; 31 December 2019, 07:33 AM.


        • #5
          Scope of this thread - posts - is around Lohan No. 17 Taming Dragon Lohan

          Here a short scope definition. This thread is not about the 'long' or 'Dragon' in Kung Fu or in Shaolin Wahnam in general and in the training. It is about specifics in the cultural background, it only touches on the theme of Dragon in Kung Fu as much as 'Taming Dragon Lohan' makes it necessary for a clear understanding.

          It contributes the Themes of adequate translation, cultural view and meaning of Taming Dragon Lohan in Chinese Culture and Kung Fu (that are underexposed in Kung Fu circles is my impression).

          I'm proposing, that 'one will have to differentiate the meaning of the words 'Dragon' and 'long' as well as it's connotations, and abstract the symbol from it's meaning in each specific context' (form the Word document).

          But I'm not going into the Kung Fu Sets or training, it is known to me, that the Grandmaster does have already also pointed out, that one will have to abstract the meaning for Kung Fu from the symbol.

          For example in connection with the '5 Animals' as posted by Sifu Leo of Vienna:

          'Although we call them animal spirits, the 5 Shaolin Animals simply represent special characteristics of our performance of and training in martial arts, especially Southern Shaolin Kung Fu.

          The dragon trains and manifests mind power and presence of mind.
          The snake trains and manifests energy flow and fluent movement.
          The tiger trains and manifests internal force, ferocity and courage.
          The leopard trains and manifests fast movement and action.
          The crane trains and manifests elegance in movement and action.

          The concept of the 5 elemental processes is similar. It’s not that financial growth is made of wood, but it figuratively represents qualities of the process that is named after wood.

          Also the expressions Yin and Yang are interchangeable, as they only symbolize two opposing things. But, to avoid confusion, some characteristics have been standardized for convenience. Everyone associates that Yang is active and Yin is quiescent.

          So the animals could also be called:
          Tiger … Truck
          Leopard … Ferrari
          Crane … Rolls Royce
          Dragon … Tesla Motors
          Snake … Ducati
          (I’m generally not a big car enthusiast, so please excuse if my choices were not the best.)

          The Shaolin monks titled these characteristics they found in their practice after some animals that are a living example of those characteristics. The tiger could as well be a lion. The leopard could also be an ostrich or even better a cheetah (that were both probably not known in ancient China).

          What I want to say with these examples is that we don’t actually try to become or think of a tiger, but that we train and apply internal force. We don’t become a dragon, but we train with a focused mind.'

          - end of recitation -

          As the translation and meaning of 'mind' - pls compare thread 'Zen Mind' filed under 'Buddhism' - is also 'as much a fuzzy field as for 'long' or 'Dragon' - on Sifu Leo's Website the meaning is given as 'Shen'.

          But that's all examples of what this thread is not about, it contributes some specifics. But if you are not aware already, may I refer you to the mentioned links.

          - t.b.c. -
          Last edited by MichaelS; 31 December 2019, 08:57 AM.


          • #6
            Chinese dragon, also known as East Asian dragon or Long

            This is how the En-wikipedia article starts unter the entry 'Chinese Dragon'. This could also be a way to distinguish the Chinese 'long' from the Western connotations of 'Dragon'.

            'Chinese dragon, also known as East Asian dragon or Long, are legendary creatures in Chinese mythology, Chinese folklore, and East Asian culture at large. Chinese dragons have many animal-like forms such as turtles and fish, but are most commonly depicted as snake-like with for legs. They traditionally symbolize potent and auspicious powers, particularly control over water, rainfall, typhoons, and floods. The dragon is also a symbol of power, strength, and good luck for people who are worthy of it in East Asian culture. During the days of Imperial China, the Emperor of China used the dragon as a symbol of this imperial strength and power.

            The Chinese dragon has very different connotations from the European dragon - in European cultures, the dragon is a fire-breathing creature with aggressive connotations, whereas the Chinese dragon is a spiritual and cultural symbol that represents prosperity and good luck, as well as a rain deity that fosters harmony. It was reported that the Chinese government decided against using the dragon as its official 2008 Summer Olympics mascot because of the aggressive connotations that dragons have outside of China, and choose more 'friendly' symbols instead.'


            - t.b.c. -
            Last edited by MichaelS; 31 December 2019, 11:52 AM. Reason: typo


            • #7
              Cultural Differences - Western import with echoes in Chinese culture ?

              Taming Dragon Lohan appears in a Buddhist tradition, also in connection with troublesome times and circumstances for Buddhism. Lohan No. 17 is a restoration of Mahakasyapa, first Patriarch of Zen Buddhism. Subduing a dragon is also sometimes associated with Mahakasyapa, interchangeable with Taming Dragon Arhat (Lohan), in connection with a story of regaining Buddhist scriptures from a dragon king.

              As Buddhism comes from West of China from territories nowadays associated with Northern India, mostly through transmission via the Silk Road (what is nowadays Western China), it may be an 'import from the West', where Dragons where not associated with the characteristics of the Chinese Long and where therefore Dragonslayers were part of the cultural heritage. My sources do not allow for a definitive explanation, as this attributing of such stories could as well have happened in China itself; however it is clear that this motive of Taming, Subduing or vanquishing a Dragon was echoed in Chinese Culture in the tradition of Taming Dragon Lohan, in stories, sages, literature and paintings (pls. compare the wall fresco in the Northern Shaolin Temple in post No. 2 for example).

              Also in Kung Fu we find traces, according to the Shaolin Wahnam Taiwan website - :

              'The Lohan Fist developed into a style by itself, with 10 different sets, conveniently named First Set Lohan Fist, Second Set Lohan Fist, etc. On the other hand, there were also Lohan Fist with special features or from different kungfu styles, like Subduing Dragon Lohan Fist, Taming Tiger Lohan Fist, Big Bell Lohan Fist, White Crane Lohan Fist and Drunken Lohan Fist.'

              'The Little Lohan Fist shown here is created by Grandmaster Wong from his wide and deep understanding and practice of Shaolin Kungfu. Pattern No. 9 is called 'Ride Dragon Strike Tiger'. (Picture pls see post No. 1).
              - t.b.c. -
              Last edited by MichaelS; 31 December 2019, 12:11 PM.


              • #8
                Huineng - 6th Patriarch of Chinese Chan Buddhism - and the Dragon in a pond in front of Baolin Temple

                'Dajian Huineg (638-713), also commonly known as the Sixth Patriarch or Sixth Ancestor of Chan, is a semi-legendary but central figure in the early history of Chinese Chan Buddhism.'

                'One of the most colorful episodes in Huineng lore concerns his confrontation with a dragon that lived in a pond in front of Baolin temple. The dragon was particularly large and fierce, emerging regularly from the watery depths to create havoc and instill fear in the populace. Fearlessly, the Master taunted the beast for its weakness at only being unable to appear in a large as opposed smaller form. At once the dragon disappeared only to re-emerge in small fromm and so show the monk his powers. Unimpressed, the Master challenged the monster to show its courage by entering his bowl. When it did so, the Master quickly scooped the dragon up, took him into the Buddha Hall, and preached dharma to it until it shed its body and departed.'



                • #9
                  Ji Gong - 'Drunken Monk' and reincarnation of Taming Dragon Lohan

                  'Ji Gong (22 December 1130 - 16 May 1209), born Li Xiuyuan and also known as 'Chan Master Daoji' was a Chan Buddhist monk who lived in the Southern Song. He purportedly possessed supernatural powers, which he used to help the poor and stand up to injustice. However, he was also known for his wild and eccentric behavior, and also for violating Buddhist monastic rules by consuming alcohol and meat. By the time of his death, Ji Gong had become a folk hero in Chinese culture und minor deity in Chinese folk religion. He is mentioned by Buddhists in folktales and koans, and sometimes invoked by oracles to assist in worldly affairs.'

                  'According to legend, while cultivating the Buddha's teaching, Daoji attained supernatural powers. Many who noticed his eccentric yet benevolent and compassionate nature began to think that he was an incarnate of a bodhisattva, or a reincarnate of an arhat. He was widely recognized by people as the incarnate of the Taming Dragon Arhat, one of the Eighteen Arhats.'


                  'He also is referred to colloquially in English as The Mad Monk, The Drunk Monk, The Crazy Monk and Crazy Ji.'

                  'At birth the room Ji Gong was delivered in was diffused with a red glow and a fragrant smell. It is also said a statue of Mahakasyapa (Taming Dragon Arhat) fell off its throne at a nearby temple, signifying that a lohan had descended to earth.'

                  With lot's of today-customs Ji Gong Photos:

                  Picture taken from here, contains also further information:

                  - t.b.c. -


                  • #10
                    Monkeyking Sun Wukong with the power to subdue Dragons and tame Tigers

                    Chinese Literature - Journey to the West

                    'Journey to the West is a Chinese novel published in the 16th century during the Ming dynasty and attributed to Wu Cheng'en. It is one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. Arthur Waley's popular abridged translation, Monkey, is well known in English-speaking countries.'

                    'The novel is an extended account of the legendary pilgrimage of the Tan dynasty Buddhist monk Xuanzang, who traveled to the 'Western Regions', that is, Central Asia and India, to obtain Buddhist sacred texts (sutras) and returned after many trials and much suffering. It retains the broad outline of Xuanzang's own account, Great Tan Records in the Western Regions, but the Ming dynasty novel adds elements from folk tales and the author's invention, that is, that Gautama Buddha gave this task to the monk (referred to as Tan Sanzang in the novel) and provided him with three protectors who agree to help him as an atonement for their sins. These disciples are Sun Wukong, Zhu Bajie and Sha Wujing, together with a dragon prince who acts as Tan Sanzang's steed, a white horse.'

                    Publication date ca. 1592.

                    'The 'handsome Monkey King' first receives a name - Sun Wukong - from a master who has adopted him as a disciple in order to teach him divine martial arts.

                    It is not surprising that this monkey, with a body nurtured by heaven and earth...should achieve immortality...Now that he has the power to subdue dragons and tame tigers, how is it different from a human being?'

                    Not only Sun Wukong from Journey to the West but also Li Nezha (a dragon slayer) from Canonization of the Gods was frequently called down to posses mediums.'



                    'Sun Wukong's name is comprised of the characters for 'grandson', 'awakened' and 'space'. Though the character 'sun' usually refers to grandsons, in this context it refers to monkeys. His name literally translates as 'the monkey awakened by the emptiness'. Wukong's name is meant to represent his spiritual journey from an ignorant, short-tempered monkey to a benevolent, enlightened being.'

                    With more information and some pictures:



                    Here a link to a YouTube excerpt of the movie 'The monkey King' - where he tames a tiger and subdues a Dragon (scene):

                    Somewhere I've read, that the movie was made as a sort of reaction to the US movies 'Kung Fu Panda', like a more original Chinese approach.
                    Last edited by MichaelS; 31 December 2019, 03:52 PM.


                    • #11
                      Chinese Art Dipictions - Arhat Taming Dragon

                      'Arhat Taming the Dragon', Yuan dynasty (1279-1368), Hanging scroll; ink and mineral pigments on silk, Kimbell Art Museum, Texas:

                      - has an enlarge function to the right of the website -

                      Also here, at the website of the Honan Shaolin Association with additional later depictions:

                      - in bigger size there; excerpt from their comment:

                      'Two such powers in particularly impressed the Chinese: the ability to 'subdue dragons', and the ability to 'tame tigers'. Both were used to demonstrate Buddhist mastery over ancient, native, Chinese forces. The phrase 'to subjugate dragons and tame tigers' had entered Daoist lexicon, not only in its leteral sense, the control of the forces of nature, but also as a metaphor for conquering the passions. These powers were also added to the domain of the Buddhist Luohan with the addition of two luohan to the existing 16 which were imported from India: Taming Dragon Luahon and Taming Tiger Luohan. These two additions took place some time between the late Tang Dynasty and early Five Dynasties period, a time which included a great persecution of Buddhism in favour of Daosim. Out of oppression arose a fervor for the Luohans as guardians of the Buddhist faith amongst Chinese Buddhists. The painting below, housed at the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, from the Yuan Dynasty, circa 1300, and painted centuries after its first introduction, attests to the enduring of Xianglong Luohan'.

                      There - pls see link above . also the already posted Fresko from the Shaolin Monastery and one further.

                      Last edited by MichaelS; 2 January 2020, 01:36 PM. Reason: format


                      • #12
                        This series of posts should

                        1. Show information about the Lohan No. 17 Taming Dragon Lohan
                        2. Raise awareness for the not equivalent translation of Chinese 'long' as 'Dragon' into English (where there exists no one equivalent word, only terms like 'Chinese Dragon', 'East Asian Dragon') and different connotations and meaning
                        3. Show that the theme of taming, subduing and vanquishing a Dragon is well established also in Chinese tradition alongside Buddhist traditions with echoes in Kung Fu, Chinese Literature, Chinese Art and Buddhist Patriarchs and popular 'Sages'
                        4. Make sensitive for a more aware and mature treatment of the Dragon theme in Kung Fu and awareness, that Dragon is not a 100% 'highest Kung Fu or Power symbol', that for example a monkey god and divine kung fu fighter like Sun Wukong is attributed with the ability to subdue dragons.

                        With Kung Fu Salute,