Shaolin Monks or Chinese Buddhist monks have been traditionally and stereotypically linked with the practice of the Chinese martial arts or Kung Fu, and monks are frequently important characters in martial arts films. This association is focused around the Shaolin Monastery. The Buddhist monk Bodhidharma, traditionally credited as the founder of Zen Buddhism in China, is also claimed to have introduced Kung Fu to the country. This latter claim has however been a source of much controversy (see Bodhidharma, the martial arts, and the disputed India connection). One more feature about the Chinese Buddhist monks is that they practice the burning marks on their scalp, finger or part of the skin on their anterior side of the forearm with incense as a sign of ordination.
In Mortal Kombat
The Shaolin Monks have the Wu Shi Academy and Shaolin Temple as their training grounds. They were attacked by Baraka and the Tarkata in MKII and a lot of them, were killed by Zombie Liu Kang, the enforcer of a corrupted Raiden in MKD.
They are a common enemy in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero and they use a variety of weapons.
Many centuries ago, the Order of Light founded the Shaolin Monks as an initiative to protect Earthrealm from the forces of evil. When Shao Kahn set his sights on conquering Earthrealm, the Shaolin Monks and Raiden formed a group known as the White Lotus Society to find the strongest warriors to participate in the Mortal Kombat tournament. When the first tournament begun, the Great Kung Lao had defeated all opposition to win the first tournament for Earthrealm. But when the second tournament began, turmoil struck for Earthrealm when the evil sorcerer, Shang Tsung had stolen control of the tournament for his master, Shao Kahn. Eventually, the Shokan Prince, Goro, defeated and killed the Great Kung Lao to win the second tournament for Outworld. For the remainder of the 8 remaining tournaments Goro had defeated all of Earthrealm's champions and Outworld was on the brink of victory.
When the Lin Kuei warrior Sub-Zero was asked to retrieve the Map of Elements from the Shaolin Temple, many Shaolin Monks had been defeated or killed by the Lin Kuei assassin trying to protect the map. When Sub-Zero made his way to the Temple of Elements, many Shaolin were bested by the assassin protecting the sacred Amulet of Shinnok.
The 10th tournament had arrived and Earthrealm was on the brink of ultimate defeat at the hands of Outworld. The Shaolin had chosen their representative for the tournament: Liu Kang. A warrior who received training from the Shaolin's ally, Master Bo' Rai Cho. Liu Kang had eventually earned the right to challenge the current champion, Goro, to Mortal Kombat. Liu Kang defeated the Shokan Prince and eventually defeated the sorcerer, Shang Tsung to give the control of the Shaolin tournament back to it's hosts.
By the time Liu Kang and his allies returned home from Shang Tsung's Island, they have returned to find that many Shaolin Monks had been slain by Baraka and his Tarkatan forces under the order of Shao Kahn. The two Shaolin Monks; Liu Kang and Kung Lao, decide to head to Outworld to compete in a tournament organized by Shang Tsung and Shao Kahn. In Outworld, Liu Kang ran across Princess Kitana and after their encounter, she learned the truth about Shao Kahn and turned against him. Liu Kang managed to fight his way through the tournament and eventually defeat Shao Kahn. After the battle was over, the heroes made their escape back to Earthrealm to prepare for the coming invasion of Outworld.
Liu Kang and Kung Lao successfully return to Earthrealm and start to look for new recruits for the White Lotus Society, but that was short-lived as the Invasion of Earthrealm had begun when Shao Kahn officially broke the mystical ward that prevented him from setting foot in Earthrealm by having Shang Tsung resurrect Queen Sindel. Many of Earthrealm's souls including a legion pertaining to those of the Shaolin, had ended up in Shao Kahn's possession except for Raiden's Chosen Warriors. Liu Kang and Kung Lao regroup with the chosen warriors of Sub-Zero, Kabal, Nightwolf, Stryker, Sonya and Jax. The heroes eventually make it into Shao Kahn's Fortress, where Kung Lao fights Shao Kahn and is seemingly killed by the emperor. Enraged, Liu Kang challenges Shao Kahn to Mortal Kombat and emerges victorious, driving him and his forces back to Outworld. Just before the portal closes, Liu Kang is greeted by Kitana and she thanks him for saving Earthrealm and Outworld.
Liu Kang begins searching for new Shaolin warriors to train. As such, he travels out to the United States, where he comes across his old friend, Kai. The Champion convinces Kai to travel with him back to China to begin training in the art of kombat. That training is interrupted by Shinnok's Army of Darkness, as they attack the Shaolin warriors. The monk's manage to defeat Shinnok's minions and save Fujin from being executed. Liu Kang decides to rescue Princess Kitana who is held prisoner in Edenia under Quan Chi. He is unsuccessful, however, and decides to assemble the rest of Earth's warriors to battle Shinnok and his army. Liu Kang is confronted and challenged by Goro, but he defeats the Shokan Prince with ease. Eventually the champion challenge's Shinnok to Mortal Kombat. He defeats the Fallen Elder God and his mentor, Raiden, banishes Shinnok back to the Netherrealm. Liu Kang is eventually greeted by Princess Kitana through a portal, who offers Liu Kang a place beside her in Edenia where they can rule as King and Queen of the realm. Liu Kang declines and states his duty is to Earthrealm. Elsewhere, Raiden eventually finds Kai and commends him for helping Earthrealm. Kai then explains to Raiden that he does not intend to become a Shaolin warrior anymore, and opts to travel the realm instead. The Thunder God gives Kai his Staff, and tells him to wield it wisely, for it can show him the way to immortality. Kung Lao, who was believed to've been killed by Shao Kahn, went into seclusion. But when he heard of Goro's return, he vowed to avenge the Great Kung Lao's death at the hands of Goro. When Kitana was making peace between the Shokan and the Centaur, Kung Lao threw his hat at Goro as a ceremonial strike of revenge. After a brief discussion, the two rivals make peace by shaking hands with each other.
Tragedy strikes for the Shaolin when Liu Kang is brutally murdered by the Deadly Alliance. Kung Lao eventually finds his body and is informed by Raiden that, Shang Tsung is the murderer of Liu Kang. Enraged, Kung Lao abandons his Shaolin beliefs and makes it his mission to seek revenge on Shang Tsung. Kung Lao eventually travels with the rest of the heroes that Raiden had summoned with him into Outworld, where he comes across Princess Kitana and informs her about the Deadly Alliance and Liu Kang's death. Heartbroken but determined, Kitana agrees to travel with Kung Lao to see Master Bo' Rai Cho for additional training as they know they would not be able beat the two sorcerer's without Bo' Rai Cho's help. Kung Lao and Kitana finish their training with Bo' Rai Cho and the two set off to battle Quan Chi and Shang Tsung. They are unsuccessful however and were defeated by the Deadly Alliance.
After Raiden's sacrifice attempt against Onaga, Liu Kang's spirit is freed with Shang Tsung's death. Liu Kang discovers that Raiden had reemerged in Earthrealm, becoming corrupted, and the dark Thunder God reanimates Liu Kang's body to wreck destruction on those Raiden believed had put Earthrealm in danger. The monk finds Shujinko in Outworld and knowing he had been deceived by Onaga, teaches him the kombat techniques that he knew. Liu Kang also discovers that many of his friends had been resurrected and enslaved by the Dragon King. In order to free them, he enlisted Shao Kahn's former minion, Ermac, and set off to complete his two goals. Liu Kang and Ermac are successful in freeing the Shaolin Monk's enslaved comrades, and Liu Kang shares a moment with Kitana and the others before he sets off to reunite with his body.
Nightwolf had discovered that Liu Kang's spirit was able to remain in the physical world due to his strong bond with Kitana. The Shaman was able to relieve Kitana and he became Liu Kang's spiritual anchor until he could reunite the Shaolin with his body. Kung Lao had heard about the coming of the final battle in Edenia and he joined his fellow heroes for the coming battle. Upon hearing the final battle, Nightwolf decided to participate with his fellow allies against the Forces of Darkness to acquire the power capable of reuniting Liu Kang with his body. During the battle, Kung Lao squared off against his old rival, Baraka. Liu Kang's corpse eventually fights Shang Tsung and kills him by latching his hooks onto the sorcerer's shoulders, draining him of his power. Kung Lao killed Baraka by slicing him vertically apart with his hat, while Liu Kang's corspe was killed and Nightwolf was killed in the battle with all the heroes. Before Shao Kahn killed Raiden, he sent a message, "He Must Win." to his past self, creating an alternate timeline.
Liu Kang is first seen looking on with Raiden as the tournament on Shang Tsung's Island begins. They observe Johnny Cage in his first matches during the tournament, and when Liu Kang asks Raiden his thoughts on Johnny Cage, he tells Liu Kang that he knows Cage is a warrior, he just doesn't realize it yet. Liu Kang is eventually seen with Raiden and Johnny Cage as they find Sonya with her injured partner, Jax. Raiden heals Jax and explains to the others that he has been recieving visions about Shao Kahn's victory. Some time later, Raiden receives a vision showing Kung Lao battling Baraka. He then figures out that the monk is disguised as a Masked Guard in order to gain entry into Shang Tsung's tournament. After a brief discussion, Kung Lao discards his disguise and challenges Scorpion who initially called out a challenge to Sub-Zero. The Shaolin Monk is defeated by Scorpion and was eliminated from the tournament. Later, the heroes witness Sub-Zero's death at the hands of Scorpion. Liu Kang then eventually is the only warrior left standing for Earthrealm in the tournament. Shang Tsung then has Liu Kang battle the Emperor's newest creation, Ermac. The monk easily gets the upperhand of Ermac and defeats him. Kitana then decides to go after Liu Kang and attempt to kill him. The Chosen One is seen some time later practicing with Raiden in the Gardens, with the Thunder God telling him to remember Bo' Rai Cho's teachings. Liu Kang then inquires about what causes the visions for Raiden, with his mentor telling him that his future self sent them to him. After Raiden teleports away, Kitana then makes her move to kill Liu Kang. But she fails to kill him, and asks him to kill her. She then reveals to Liu Kang that Shao Kahn is her father and he decides not to kill her. Liu Kang then states to her that he hopes to meet her again under different circumstances. Shang Tsung some time after has Liu Kang battle Scorpion and Quan Chi, which he defeats. Liu Kang after he defeated his two opponents had earned the right to challenge the reigning champion of Mortal Kombat: Goro. He is sent through a portal by Shang Tsung into Goro's Lair and the Shaolin warrior and the Shokan Prince exchange a little banter before they fight. The monk then defeats Goro and returns to Shang Tsung's Throne Room, where he issues a challenge to the sorcerer to face him in Mortal Kombat. Liu Kang defeats Shang Tsung and saves Earthrealm. His friends then celebrate his victory with him, and before the portal closes, Kitana gives Liu Kang a pleasant glance before she returns to Outworld. Liu Kang then bows to his mentor, but Raiden then realizes that his amulet is still cracking.
The Outworld Tournament
The heroes return to the Wu Shi Academy and Liu Kang receives a special medal for saving Earthrealm by his fellow Shaolin Monks and Raiden. Kung Lao, Jax and Sonya look on clapping their friend. Later that evening, Jax and Raiden are seen discussing why Raiden's amulet still kept on cracking. During the discussion, Shang Tsung appears out of nowhere revitalized by his master, Shao Kahn. He offers a new tournament to held in Outworld where if Earthrealm is victorious in the tournament, Shao Kahn would abandon his claim to Earthrealm forever. Raiden initially declines and Shang Tsung opens a portal with a massive horde of Tarkatan warriors that attack the Shaolin.