Bodhidharma was born in Southern India in 482. He was a royal prince who gave up everything to follow the teachings of Buddha. He was sent to China by his master to restore the teachings of Buddhism.
On traveling into China, he came across a Shaolin Temple. He was refused entry and then retreated to a small cave and became renowned for sitting in meditation for nine years.
In 526, he was allowed entry. He saw that the monks were tired during meditation and he taught the monks at the Shaolin Temple a system of exercise and self-defense based on the movements of animals (tiger, bear, monkey, crane, snake) that evolved into the martial arts style that some say was known as Kung Fu.
It is said that the Shaolin monks traveled through China and spread these forms of martial arts as part of their teachings.
Bodhidharma died in 539 at the Shaolin Temple at age 57.