Roaring The Lion's Roar!  

       रोरिंग थे लियन ' रोर !





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                       see also: Potala Palace Martial Arts

                                    Ah-Dat-Tor Lama

The Hindu (Sanatana Dharma) Roots of the 'Buddhist' Lion's Roar! हिंदू धर्मा रुत्स

The symbol of the Lion was of central importance to all Indo-Aryan cultures, and indeed was the name of the original recorded Indo-Aryan martial art: Simhanada-Vajramukti  The Lion's Roar! Diamond Thunderbolt Fist - the martial art of Indra, the King of the Indo-Aryan Vedic Gods.

Prince Guatama Shakyamamuni, who was destined to become the Historical Buddha, was trained in Hindu Simhanada-Vajramukti as a child.

This Hindu Lion's Roar! was the lineage precursor to the later Buddhist Lion's Roar Art, both of India and Tibet, before its eventual transmission into China where over two generations, it was virtually (but not completely) "Sino-Formed" into the various branch divisions of Lama, Hop-Gar and 'Tibetan'-White Crane 'Kung-Fu'.

Some Han-Chinese lineages preserved enough of the 'DNA' of Indo-Tibetan culture for it to be retro-culturalized, back into its original form.  In acknowledgement of this, let us now look at the Tibetan Buddhist 'origins' of  ROARING THE LION'S ROAR!

The Lotus Sutra:  थे लोटस सुत्र

According to the Buddha's Discourses On The Lion's Roar! from the Lotus Sutra, Link: lions roar sutra  there are two kinds of Lion's Roar! The first is the pronouncement by the Buddha himself of his Dharma (teaching) which is like "The Lion's Roar in the Spiritual World". The second is the declaration by his true disciples of their becoming Arhat's. The Buddha's Lion's Roar Discourses in the seminal Lotus Sutra, are indisputably the origin of the name of the Lion's Roar! as a Tibetan-Lama martial art. 

The Arhat "Foe Destroyer":

Arhat, in Tibetan: dra bcom pa, "Foe destroyer", is a person who has destroyed his or her delusions and attained liberation from cyclic existence. The Arhat represents the Theravada ideal, one who has experienced the cessation of suffering by extinguishing all passions and desires and is thus free of the cycle of rebirth.

The Hinayana Path:

Theravada, is the main or original (surviving) Branch of Buddhism. The term means "teachings of the elders," but is also called Hinayana  "Lesser/Smaller vehicle" by the followers of Mahayana - the "Greater" Vehicle.

According to Theravada Buddhism, the individual has been given the teachings which allow one to work toward freedom from the suffering in the world. An elder is a monk who has been ordained for a minimum of 10 years and who is acknowledged to have attained insight. Officially, the Theravada school is based only on what has been transmitted by these elders down through the ages.  The works of this school are called the Pali Canon. The language in which that canon is preserved is called the Pali language. While many Theravadin teachers admire and study and refer to individuals and writings that are not in the Pali canon, the framework within which all teachings are interpreted is provided by the Pali canon.  Theravada school exists nowadays in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and parts of Vietnam. Theravada is therefore also called the "Southern" School of Buddhism.

The Mahayana Path:

Mahayana Buddhism, "The Greater Vehicle", is a main limb of Buddhism that spreads into many different branches.  What all have in common is that they accept the authority of texts that the Theravada branch explicitly rejected as being the teachings of the historical Buddha, which  now form the tradition of Theravada Buddhism. 

Mahayana emphasizes working, studying and practicing meditation for the benefit of all sentient beings. A universal compassion leads to freedom from the sufferings of the world. The Buddhist begins to arouse the wish in himself to release all beings from suffering. The number of Mahayana texts is so large that no one can hope to read them all within a single lifetime, so usually Mahayana Buddhists specialize by focusing on just a few texts or sometimes only one text. Mahayana Buddhism was the basis of the Buddhism practiced in pre-Islamic Northern India; Tibet, China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam, and was seeded by influence from 800 years of Greek civilization in Northern India and Central Asia: Greco-Buddhism  This Greco-Buddhist influenced Mahayana, became the seed in-itself for Vajrayana  or Tantric Buddhism.

The Vajrayana Path:

The Tibetan branch of Mahayana Buddhism "Vajrayana" - Diamond-Indestructible Vehicle, or Tantric Buddhism, utilizing a wide variety of skilful means including mantra and visualization of deities giving great emphasis to the role of the Guru. One of the means Tibetan Buddhists use to gain freedom is meditation on sublime thoughts and pictures or Mandala's. 

While Vajrayana springs from the Mahayana traditions, it has become distinctive enough to be regarded now as a separate branch unto itself. The word "Vajra" means both "thunderbolt" and "diamond." The texts upon which this branch is based are known as Tantras, so this form of Buddhism is also called Tantric Buddhism. Unlike other forms of Buddhism, the Tantra-yana is largely esoteric. Tantras are often written in a kind of code so that their meaning is not apparent to non- initiates.  One can neither study nor practice it effectively without a qualified teacher, who offers oral instructions, and confers ritual baptisms (abhisheka) that give people a special grace or power by which they can put the teachings into practice. Tantric Buddhism is the main form of Buddhism in Tibet and Mongolia (via Tibet). There were also Tantric forms in China, which in turn transmitted them to Vietnam, Korea and Japan. Even forms of Buddhism that are not nominally Tantric have been influenced by Tantric thinking and practices. Today, Tantra and Western (hence Greek underscored) "Gnostic" forms of Buddhism have mixed productively, and freely. 

The Lion's Roar! as Arhat:

The Lion's Roar! is therefore part of the Sacred Transmission of The Buddha himself, originally the self-acknowledgement of Arhat-ship - the Theravada (Hinayana) ideal.  However, Tibetan Tantric Buddhism is a branch of Mahayana Buddhism, and holds to the Bodhisattva  ideal.

The Bodhisattva "Awakened Being":

A Bodhisattva (Tibetan: Jang-chub sempa) is an "Awakened Being". Shakyamuni Buddha - the Historical Buddha, used this term to describe himself when he was seeking enlightenment. Bodhi means "Enlightenment" and sattva means "sentient" or "conscious. Thus "bodhisattva" refers to a "sentient being of great wisdom and enlightenment", often abreviated in meaning to "Buddhist Saint".

The Bodhisattva's goal is the pursuit of Buddha-hood and the salvation of all. The bodhisattva cycles through rebirths to help liberate beings from suffering and further establish the Dharma in the world. The Bodhisattva path and discipline, generally accepted by Mahayana practitioners, is based in the aspiration, generation and application of the bodhicitta (awakened Mind). 

Bodhisattvas are awakened beings whose realization is not yet that of the Buddha's, but are held in special case relationship to Arhat's.  Unlike Arhat's, The Bodhisattvas develop the intention to reach the state of Buddha, in order to release all sentient beings from the suffering of the cycle of existence. They work with this intention while developing compassion and renouncing the stain of any personal interest. Accompanied by Joyful effort and the other paramitas, this altruistic attitude permits one to slice through the thick inertia of egocentric habit energy and constitutes the energy of awakening. The Bodhisattva works for the good of beings until the end of Samsara (Cycle of Rebirth). 

In Tibetan Tantric terms, the Lion's Roar! is the Buddha's Dharma (Teaching) and a special working of body, mind and transcendent spirit, a means to create oneself in the Bodhisattva ideal.  This then is a Tantric extension of the Theravda Arhat ideal into becoming a Bodhissatva. In effect becoming enlightened enough to achieve Arhat-ship, but making a commitment through Compassion, to remain in Samsara as a Bodhissatva until the goal of liberation of all sentient beings is achieved. 

 Roaring The Lion's Roar!  रोरिंग थे लियन ' रोर !


The Tibetan Lion's Roar! Lama, Potala Palace Martial Art: as a martial art of the Tibetan Nation and People; is a Tantric Yana in it's own right.

The Tibetan branch of the art becomes known to narrative history in the middle of the 15th century AD, when the Lama Ah-Dat-Tor, a Tantric Siddha (Crazy Wisdom Teacher), and student of Dharma Master Gong-Got Lama Dorje Drollo) at the Potala's famous: Namgyal or "Victorious" Monastery, 'created' the Lion's Roar! martial art through a Tantric meditative and Yiddam (Deity Meditation) process.   Links: Ah-Dat-Tor Lama and Potala Palace Martial Arts making Lion's Roar Lama, a Potala Palace Kung-Fu, part of the Gelugpa or "Yellow Hat" school of Tibetan Buddhism, and therefore part of the lineage sect of the Dalai Lama himself.

Some lineages link Ah-Dat-Tor's Tantric creation of the Lion's Roar with an edict from the Great 5th Dalai Lama, who is said to have commanded the development of a 'Superior Martial Art To Rid The World Of Evil'.  This is certainly an echo from Hinduism, the story of the Narasimha, the Man-Lion incarnation of Vishnu/Krishna, who saved the world from the power of evil that had presented in the form of a Demon King.  See LINKS: The Lion Symbol in Tibetan Martial Arts and: Hinduism

The difficulty with the Great 5th Dali Lama being the originator of the Lion's Roar! is that he was born nearly 200 years after Ah-Dat-Tor, but some input or further development of the system at the time of the Great 5th Dalai Lama is perfectly possible. It is also possible that the dates given for Ah-Dat-Tor were too early, and he may indeed have been a contemporary of the Great 5th Dalai Lama.


NOTE: There is a further possibility, based on Tantric practices: that the system was formulated in the time of the Great 5th, and that Ah-Dat-Tor, was an acknowledged Lineage Master of previously existing martial systems: the 'new' Lion's Roar! system being created thru Tantric 'Yidam' processes, with Ah-Dat-Tor as the Tantric Yidam. This would not mean that Ah-Dat-Tor as a past lineage Master was directly and personally involved in a later creation of the art, but, that his 'Bodhicitta' (Enlightened Mind) was accessed thru Tantric practices by another Tantric Master, using his own capacity for Bodhicitta.  This may seem unusual, but, Vajrayana (Tantric Buddhism) as a part of the broader Mahayana Buddhism, is not for example so much concerned with the actual personality of the 'historical' Buddha, but, with the Buddha Mind, the 'Bodhicitta', that is available to all thru Mahayana practice. 

 Likewise, in a Tantric Martial Arts context, a past lineage master, could be 'accessed' as a Yidam and used as inspiration for the development or revision of a martial system. This practice is part of some contemporary Tantric Martial Arts systems, who in addition to the usual Yidam 'deities', Dharma Protectors, and current Guru (as the additional three 'Tantric' Jewels) also access the Bodhicitta of past Lineage Masters.

NON-Martial Tantric practitioners need to appreciate that in Tantric Martial Arts, the Art itself is a 'Yana' (Vehicle) a Tantra-Yana, in its own right.  It has its own Tantric empowerments and transmission according to the secret teachings of  its Lineage Masters.

According to this Tantric viewpoint, Ah-Dat-Tor need not actually to have ever existed as an historical personality, his utilization as a specialized Yidam would be sufficient for a Tantric Master to tap into the Bodhicitta and thus to formulate the Lion's Roar! Martial Art.

Padmasambhava's Treasures:  Guru Lions' Roar! / The Lion Roaring Guru:

Padma - the 'Lotus-Born' - Lions's Roar Guru, and 1st Patriarch of Vajrayana Buddhism to Tibet, is said to have hidden Dharma Treasures (Terma).  These treasures were teachings either as Sutra's or as expressions of Dharma in any form, and were placed in physical - earthly places, but also within Bodhicitta (enlightened Mind) itself.  The Terma may be 'uncovered' as 'revealed-wisdom', by 'treasure hunters', people who discover the Terma by the appropriate means.  In the Siddi (Crazy wisdom) tradition, Terma can be revealed and expressed through any medium.  Some lineages in Tantric Lion's Roar Martial Arts consider their practices to be both 'Upaya' (Skillful Means) and 'Terma' (Revealed Treasure).  This links closely with Yidam, tutelary deity work, and is in fact at the very core of Lion's Roar! martial arts practice as a kinetic Tantrc-Buddhism. The lineage of Terma practice is usually short, as it involves revealed wisdom to treasure seekers.  It is closely linked with a Gnostic interpretation of Buddhism, as revealed knowledge and experience through the heart.  Such 'treasure seekers' called Tertrons, are at the heart of advances in Tantric Martial arts, and in a broader Tantric context are often considered to be  reincarnations of Padma's disciples from past generations.  The passage below from Wikipedia is a useful summing up of Terma:

"Types of Terma

Termas can be either of the "earth" or "mind". The former are physical objects — which may be either an actual text, or physical objects that trigger a recollection of the teaching. The "mind" termas are states of mind discovered in meditation, which connect the practitioner directly with the essential content of the teaching in one simultaneous experience. Once this has occurred, the tertön, or discoverer of the terma, then holds the whole teaching in his mind and is hopefully able to write it down at some future point, and transmit it. In this way, one can see the tradition of termas and tertöns as analogous to that of inspiration.

In one sense, all termas might be considered as mind-termas: the teaching is always "hidden in the mind" of the student, to be rediscovered in a future incarnation. The process of hiding implies that the student must gain realisation in that life. At the time of hiding, a prophecy is made concerning the circumstances in which the teaching will be rediscovered. Especially in the case of an earth-terma, this often includes a description of a place, and may specify certain ritual objects which must be present, and the identities of any assistants and consorts who must accompany the tertön.

It is said that earth-termas may be buried in the ground, hidden in a rock or a tree, or hidden in a lake, or hidden in the sky. If the concealed object is a text, it is often written in dakini script: a non-human type of writing. As the tertön studies such a text, it is said that the text and meaning sometimes alter and change. The tertön must continue to study until the meaning is completely stable, and then must practice the teaching until he gains the realization it embodies: only then can he write it down or transmit it."

However, for now, let's continue, with the broad acceptance that Ah-Dat-Tor WAS indeed an historical personality and the physical and Tantric-founder of the Tibetan lineage of the Lion's Roar! Lama Martial Art...

Let's continue, with the broad acceptance that Ah-Dat-Tor WAS indeed an historical personality and the physical and Tantric founder of the Lion's Roar! Lama Martial Art...

NOTE ALSO THIS LINK: Ah-Dat-Tor Lama for a special discussion on Ah-Dat-Tor's role in Martial Arts Tantra.


This is as far as the oral narrative histories, can take us. However, broader anthropological research can offer the potential for further insight.

The 'Potala':  Early legends concerning the Red Mountain at Lhasa, tell of a sacred cave, considered to be the dwelling place of the Bodhisattva Chenrezig that was used as a meditation retreat by King Songtsen Gampo in the seventh century AD. In 637 King Songtsen Gampo built a palace there, on the 'Red Hill/Mountain' at Lhasa. From  the early eleventh century the Palace was known as the Potala. 

The name Potala (or Potalaka in Sanskrit) means ''Brilliance." It is from the Tamil pottu (potti-) ''to light (as a fire)''.  Potalaka (Potala) is a legendary Mountain in the Kerala district of Southern India, and has been sacred to Hindu's, Buddhist's and Jain's. Many deities have changed their form and names over the years as they have shifted their form between these religions.

For Buddhists, Mt. Potala is the mythological mountain abode of the Bodhisattva Chenrezig (Indian - 'Avilokiteshvara', Han- 'Kuan Yin'). The Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo has been regarded as an incarnation of Chenrezig (as indeed were all the subsequent incarnations of the Dalai Lama). It seems likely that the Red Mountain Palace of Lhasa took on the name of the Indian Kerala region sacred mountain, marking a deep religious and martial link between Tibet and Southern India, 

Given this, and given that The Lion's Roar (as part of the Lotus Sutra) was originally a Theravada Arhat religious teaching, it seems likely that very early Buddhist influence (Theravadian) had entered into Tibet, and settled near to the Potala Mountain.  The Lion's Roar! Tibetan martial art, is often acknowledged by the Han to have been influenced by the Indian martial art of Kalari Pyatt. Indeed, some narrative histories make direct claim that Ah-Dat-Tor was trained in Kalari and/or Vajramukti (Thunderbolt Fist). Some martial arts forms from the 'Southern' style of Kalari Pyatt, from the Kerala district, (where the original Indian Potala/Potalaka was located)  are very close  in technique and sequence to modern Lion's Roar forms, even without any evidence whatsoever of any 'recent' historical contact between the two martial systems.  

This fact was recorded in a BBC Television film documentary in 1981: "Kalari, the Indian way" which shows a Southern Kalari Master performing a martial arts form near identical to one found in a branch lineage from the Wong-Hon-Wing line of Tibetan Hop-Gar Kung-Fu. The fact that the Sacred Mountain of Potala/Potakala, is in the Kalari originating region of Kerala, Southern India, makes the link to Southern Kalari martial arts obvious.  The 'Founder' of the Buddhist Zen (Ch'an) Sect, and also in legend of Shaolin Martial arts, the Patriarch Bodhidharma, is of note here. Bodhidharma (originally from Northern India) was a resident of Kerala and is remembered there as being a Kalari Master as well as a Dharma Master. Indeed he set out for his eventual 'goal' of the Shaolin Temple from Kerala. Thus the 'seeding' of Shaolin, and of Tibetan Potala Palace, Lion's Roar Lama martial arts, may well have both sprung from the same root.

As Gong-Got Lama (Dharma Master) was also a teacher of martial arts at the Potala to Ah-Dat-Tor Lama, it seems likely that Southern Indian Kalari Pyatt and/or Northwestern Indian Vajramukti was already present at Lhasa, and was taught at the Potala for many generations before 'Lion's Roar' as we know it (exclusively through Han Chinese lineages) was 'formulated' by Ah-Dat-Tor himself.  Interestingly, some lineages claim that Hellenistic Pankration Martial Arts, which had settled in North West India during the 800 or so years of Greek occupation and cultural presence that area, influenced Vajramukti, and subsequently Kalari Pyatt, and that these influences later entered into Tibet.  It is well known to scholars of the period that Hellenism was a major factor in the diversity of development of Indian Mahayana Buddhism, and that these in turn entered into the dissemination of the Mahayana throughout Asia, including China, Japan and Tibet.

The transformation of the Arhat (Theravadian) tradition into the Mahayana Bodhisattva, may mirror the transformation of Hindu Kalari Pyatt/Vajramukti  into Tibetan Lion's Roar Lama 'Kung-Fu'. Named Arhat (Lo-Han) forms still exist in some extant Han 'Tibetan' Hop-Gar, Lama and White Crane Kung-Fu lineages, that all arise from the original Lion's Roar of Ah-Dat-Tor. Bodhisattva forms also exist, showing the mixture of traditions. Indeed some Tibetan lineages in Hop-Gar claim that their Tantra is from the Karmapa 'Black-Hat' tradition, which cannot be expected if Ah-Dat-Tor was a Monk at the Potala, unless: further influence occurred after Ah-Dat-Tor's time; which seems perhaps to have been the case.

Nevertheless, Ah-Dat-Tor's art, as originated by him, or as 'ascribed to him', albeit arising from a Simhanada Vajramukti/Kalari root, has further diversified into many branches.  To be authentically 'Tibetan' however, the Lion's Roar! Lama 'Kung-Fu' MUST be Tantric in form and practice, this is the essential root, and must be 'living' even in the Han-diversified or Westernized branches of the art.  Gnostic Tantra, and more broadly Gnostic Buddhism, are the living Western Tantrayana's applicable in form, content and path to the Lion's Roar! martial art.  The Gnostic approach also echo's the original Hellenistic (Greek) influences on the development of Mahayana, including, Tibetan Tantrayana. 


Senge Dradog (English: Guru Lion's Roar): one of the 8 Manifestations of Guru Padmasabhava - The Lotus Born, Patriarch of Vajrayana to Tibet. The name 'Lion's Roar' in the Tibetan Lion's Roar Lama Martial art is linked thru Tantra to Senge Dradog as Padmasabhava.

To be practiced as Tantra, TRUE Lion's Roar! Martial Arts will resemble Japanese 'Zen' martial systems, even more than they do Han Chinese, in respect of their integrated spiritual - Buddhist practices. Just as Karate-Do is the way of the 'Empty' (Zen) Hand, so too is Lion's Roar 'Tantra', in it's integrated body, mind, and spiritual form.

Buddhism has always changed to meet 'local' conditions, in host cultures: Tibet, Thailand, Japan, China, the West etc (e.g. 'Gnostic Buddhism' above).  Lion's Roar! as a Tantric martial art has also changed and evolved, but, as with Buddhism, and in particular, as with 'Tibetan' Buddhism, the art must have a Tantric core. Then, the Lion's Roar! will still Roar the Buddha's Dharma, and still be a vehicle for transformation and enlightenment, just as it was always intended to be.....

Sanskrit & Chinese Translations

of 師子吼 : 獅子吼 "Lion's Roar"

("Si") A host, army; a leader, preceptor, teacher, model; tr. of upādhyāya, an 'under-teacher', generally interpreted as a Buddhist monk.

"Si" as in Si-Fu

子 "Ji" as in Seed, or Son (note the Buddha's Son's and Seeds, in relation to Lion's Roar! Tantric Buddhist Martial Arts symbolism.

師子 ("Si-Ji") Simha, a lion; also 獅子 Buddha, likened to the lion, the king of animals, in respect of his fearlessness.

師子乳 Lion's milk, like bodhi -enlightenment, which is able to annihilate countless ages of the karma of affliction, just as one drop of lion's milk can disintegrate an ocean of ordinary milk.

金毛獅子 The lion with golden hair on which Bodhisattva Mañjuśrī (Wenshu) rides; also a previous incarnation of the Buddha.

師子光 Simharaśmi. 'A learned opponent of the Yogācāra school who lived about A. D. 630.' Eitel.

師子吼 ("Si-Ji-Hao") also: 獅子吼: Simhanāda. The lion's roar, a term designating authoritative or powerful preaching. As the lion's roar makes all animals tremble, subdues elephants, arrests birds in their light and fishes in the water, so Buddha's preaching overthrows all other religions, subdues devils, conquers heretics, and arrests the misery of life.

佛吼 Buddha's nāda, or roar, Buddha's preaching compared to a lion's roar

師子國 Simhala, Ceylon, the kingdom reputed to be founded by Simha, first an Indian merchant, later king of the country, who overcame the 'demons' of Ceylon and conquered the island.

師子座 (or 師子牀) Simhāsana. A lion throne, or couch. A Buddha throne, or seat; wherever the Buddha sits, even the bare ground; a royal throne.

師子奮迅 The lion aroused to anger, i.e. the Buddha's power of arousing awe.

師子尊者 師子比丘 Āryasimha, or Simha-bhiku. The 23rd or 24th patriarch, brahman by birth; a native of Central India; laboured in Kashmir, where he died a martyr A.D. 259.

師子王 Simhanadraja: The lion king, The Buddha.

師子相 Simdhadhvaja; 'lion-flag,' a Buddha south-east of our universe, fourth son of Mahābhijña.

師子冑 or 師子鎧 Harivarman, to whom the 成實論 Satyasiddhi-śāstra is ascribed.

師子身中蟲 Just as no animal eats a dead lion, but it is destroyed by worms produced within itself, so no outside force can destroy Buddhism, only evil monks within it can destroy it.

師子遊戲三昧 The joyous Samādhi which is likened to the play of the lion with his prey. When a Buddha enters this degree of Samādhi he causes the earth to tremble, and the purgatories to give up their inmates.

師子音 Simhaghoma; 'lion's voice,' a Buddha south-east of our universe, third son of Mahābhijña

師子音 "Guru with a Lion's voice" also 師子吼 or 獅子吼 as "Guru Lion's Roar" BOTH names for Padmasambhava - the Lotus Born (called Guru Rinpoche) the Patriarch of Tantric Buddhism to Tibet.


      Om Ah Hum Vajra Simhanada Sangha Hum