Bodhidharma (Daruma Taishi) or (Taishi)
*NOTE* Certain names in times are in conflict and the most common ones were used in this document.
The art of Kempo is unique, as far as its history goes, in two respects. First, it is considered by many to be the first eclectic martial art. Second, its founding roots stretch back to 520 BC. The person who was a catalyst of the way of Kempo was a prince and warrior of southern India called Bodhidharma. According to the records of the Lo-Yang temple, Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk under the tutelage of Prajnatara and it is presumed that upon his death bed, Prajnatara requested Bodhidharma to travel to China where he felt the principles of Buddhism were in decline, and that the knowledge of dhyana (Zen koans) should be known.
It is estimated that in 520 BC, during the Southern dynasties, Bodhidharma entered China and traveled northward to the kingdom of Wei where the fabled meeting with emperor Wu of the Liang dynasty began. This meeting is recorded due to the intense conversation and discussion of Buddhism and dhyana which took place. The meeting was to no avail. His words to the worldly emperor meant nothing. Thus, sullened by his attempts, Bodhidharma left the palace of the emperor and traveled to the Hunan province where he entered the Shaolin temple and began a martial history.
Bodhidharma's depression grew once he reached the famed Shaolin temple, for Prajnatara's telling was true. The monks were in a ragged condition - physically and mentally diminished due to the excess amount of time the monks spent in meditation and little else. Many of the monks would often fall asleep in meditation while others needed assistance in the basic necessities of life, so feeble was their condition.
For an unknown period of time, Bodhidharma meditated in a cave at the outskirts of the temple seeking for a way to renew the feat of Buddha's light, as well as letting the monks regain control over their lives. Upon his return, Bodhidharma instructed the monks into the courtyard, from the strong to the feeble, and began to explain and work with them in the art of Shih Pa Lo Han Sho, or the 18 hands of Lo Han. These techniques were never origianlly intended to be utilized as methods of fighting, but were a manner in which the monks could attain enlightenment while preserving their body's health.
Shih Pa Lo Han Sho, or the 18 hands of Lo Han are the foundation for almost all martial arts today.