Most monasteries in Avistan and Garund focus on religion and self-sufficiency. They grow their own food, fell their own lumber, and craft their own clothing and tools. Few of them produce warriors of any kind, except for the occasional cleric or paladin. It wan not until the Vudrani came to Avistan that the western nations encountered monastic orders dedicated to self-perfection and quiet meditation (and, frequently, self defense). Monks remain uncommon among the nations of the Inner Sea, although with the continued influx of both Vudrani and Tian, more of them appear every year.
While many seek purity of mind or body, few have the devotion to walk the path of a monk, making them a rarity in Golarion. Even forthright paladins outnumber these skilled martial artists. Most monks pay homage to Irori, who promises to show them the path to self-perfection. In addition to the martial arts for which they are famous, monks practice constant self-improvement through contemplative meditation, fasting, and other forms of voluntary denial.
Few monastic orders that train monks exist in Avistan and Garund, and all of them are small. Each order trains its students in a particular school of battle, and while many schools derive from the same source or have many similar skills, each is wholly unique. Students train not only in their own school, but also in recognizing other schools and in learning those others schools’ strengths and weaknesses.
Some particularly gifted or wishful worshipers of Irori attempt to teach themselves martial arts and contemplative meditation. Nearly all fail. Most independent monks learn from masters who studied at true monastic schools and who later developed their own styles. These apprentices can be found nearly anywhere, performing a host of chores designed to strengthen their bodies while learning all their masters can teach them about self defense, discipline, and contemplation.
Most monks own very little because they need very little. A few own and carry weapons, but many rely on their own bodies instead. Because they use their bodies as weapons, monks prefer to wear loose-fitting clothing that allows a full range of motion. Such clothing is usually plainly adorned, although some orders demand their members wear more extravagant uniforms. In either case, cleanliness and order play a strong role in the garb of every monk.
The few orders of monks in Avistan and Garund mostly exist in Hermea and the Isle of Jalmeray. The Golden House, in Hermea, offers a home to nearly 100 monks and meditatinon experts. Jalmeray hosts the famed Houses of Perfection, where a few dozen students graduate every year and venture out into the world beyond its walls. In the north, merchants and exiles from faraway Tian Xia bring their own styles and traditions to the region. Enough Tian who cross the Crown of the World are trained in the ways of unarmed combat that many Avistani stereotype the entire race as one filled with martial artists and dedicated monks. Many temples devoted to Irori also train monks, and it is through these places that the martial arts spread across the region.
Monks from different schools, orders, and regions, have different styles. While most learn how to deflect arrows and flee grapples – or start them, some learn more exotic techniques, or create unique styles altogether.
Sources: Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting