Shaolin Kung Fu is only one of several types of Chinese Kung Fu, or "hard-won achievement", "martial arts". It is only one among many such martial arts that claim association with Shaolin Temple, the now famous Chan ("Zen", in Japanese) Buddhist temple located near the city of Zhengzhou, in China's Henan Province.

Shaolin temple, which was founded in the 5th century CE, became famous in fact due to its assocation with the martial arts, in particular, with the strain of martial arts that was referred to as "external" (shaolin) martial arts (as opposed to "internal" (wudang) martial arts, the distinction being a sort of hair-splitting argument within the martial arts community in China at the time regarding whether the focus should be on mastering only the physical techniques associated with martial arts or mastering these in connection with mastering one's own particular abilities, or 'getting in touch with one's qi', or life force, as it were, in a "mind over matter" sense).