Many people are under the impression that Kung Fu originated with the Shaolin Temple, It did not. The Chinese Martial Arts were well developed before the Temple was built in the third century moreover, the Chinese physician Hwa Tor was using exercises based on animal movements to improve the physical health of his patients well before that date.
The temple did become a centre of development for the martial arts and remained so for more than a thousand years before it was dissolved by the Ching Dynasty in the Eighteenth Century.
In the year 527 AD, a monk known as Dat Mo (Bodhidharma) arrived at the Shaolin Temple. It is believed that he found his Chinese disciples too weak, both physically and mentally, to practice the intensive meditation required by his path to enlightenment.
To rectify this problem, Dat Mo devised exercises combining physical movement and breathing, thus strengthening the Body and Minds of his disciples, enabling them to pursue the spiritual path with more vigor. Since Dat Mo was himself of the warrior Caste (Ksatriva) it is possible some of the exercises were drawn from the Indian Martial tradition.
It is evident, therefore that early Shaolin Kung Fu was largely internal in nature, being designed for the improvement of health, control of the mind and the perception of the Buddha nature.