Shaolin means "young forest" or "new forest" and is the given name for the budists kung fu practicants monks.
Located in the nort of Henan Province, the Shaolin Monastery, a famous Buddist temple, associated with the buddism and with the chinesse martial arts, its the home of the shaolin monks, they practice every day cultivating their bodies and souls, but it wasn't that way in the beginning.
A famous tale tells us that Boddhi Dharma (patriarch of Zen Buddism) was a royalty member, that left his possesions and began to travel Asia, seeking and teaching the buddist philosophy werever he reached.
Boddhi Dharma, in his travel, reached the Shaolin monastery at Henan province, and saw that the monks falled asleep during their meditation, so he teached them the yi jin jing (a serie of steps that work the body muscles), and two styles of hindu martial arts.
Those teaching where the beginning of the workout, martial arts culture of the buddist monks of shaolin, and the beginning of the Shaolin Kung fu (or Gong Fu), some histories tells too, that they adopted some moves or styles, seeing the way the animals defended themselves and their attacks (a mantis hunting, for example) and coppied those moves, inserting them into his martial arts.
Some histories teach us too, that they learned and developed the use of weapons, (such as the "cha" or staff) using their own tools, such as brooms, scythes, machetes or shovels, defending themselves and their monastery from animals or robbers, wich leads to the weapons that we know today and his own styles.
This is a short story based on what i learned when i practiced this beautifull art, and on what i remember, hope you enjoy it!