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Thread: July/August Issue

  1. #1
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    July/August Issue

    This is the best issue that has come out in a long time! It had a good blend of history, philosophy, and physical movement (especially the photos and explanations and descriptions of the forms). From front to back I was impressed. I had been growing some what bored with the magazine, but a good Shaolin issue brought me back. Thank you.
    Blah, blah, blah...

  2. #2
    Seeing as the Shaolin issues are the ones I am the most bored with, I won't complain to Gene this time. I just want to ask all those that love everything Shaolin, from the martial arts to the bed sheet to the T-shirt to the mug, why do you love it so much?

    I am at a loss. The whole modern martial monk thing is a fabrication! They don't take full buddhist vows and are not fully fledged monks (if monks at all!) yet they still wear the clothing. It's all a farce. I just don't understand why people are so fascinated with them or in awe of their martial arts.

    I have seen one or two that have exhibited good MA (although they weren't demonstrating a traditional style at the time!) but most of them don't. I just do not see effective MA being practised by them. Just flowery wu shu. Some say "oh, but they practise the real stuff behind closed doors". I find this notion ridiculous. If they do then it makes their prolific displays of wu shu all the more dishonest by fooling a lot of people. Worse still they are doing it for money and fame. Since when did Shaolin monks seek glory in historical times?

    Now I know that Gene says that martial arts are about self development and progression etc and therefore wu shu is as valid as anything etc. Okay, that's one opinion. But I disagree. Martial movements without the martial meaning are meaningless. If it was just about mastering a movement in thin air or just about self progression, why not just do Pilates or Yoga or the Jane Fonda work out? If that's what a person is after martial arts are not for them. That's why they are called MARTIAL arts. They are for fighting with.

    All it leads to is further degredation of the martial arts. Although I do find it rather humourous and ironic that the same people who idolise the monks also much of the time idolise Bruce Lee. I wonder what Lee would have made of these modern 'monks'?!

  3. #3
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    I'm not sure if that response was directed at me or people in general. I'll assume it wasn't directed at me since I've never met SimonW. Anyway, I find Shaolin interesting. I don't own any robes, mugs, beads, bedsheets, or authentic Shaolin Temple tea bags. I don't worship the monks or Bruce Lee or anything but God. (In actuality, I'm a Jackie Chan fan) Everybody finds God in different ways and through different means.
    As for the modern monks being fabrications, all religion is fabrication...it is man-made. Therefore, if people want to subscribe to a particular sect, denomination, etc., then they follow whatever rules are in that particular group or not. That's their choice. I'm not going to criticize the "authority" that's at Shaolin. If performances are authorized, they are authorized. That doesn't reflect on someone's ability to move well or their understanding of movement, Buddhism, or life in general.
    I'm not in awe of their martial arts. Some of the monks I've seen here in the U.S. don't seem to be "standouts" to me, but others are quite good (again in my opinion). Also, your ability to move (or lack there of) doesn't necessarily mean you don't understand or can't teach. Some people who move very well are horrible teachers.
    How do we know the martial arts are weaker now than they used to be and at what time, by what standard? There used to be so much secrecy and mysticism surrounding so much of the Chinese martial arts that it can be difficult to seperate fact from fiction. Are the martial arts for fighting? I say that they can effective for fighting, but not necessarily with your fists and feet and not necessarily for physical confrontations. What about Helen Liang using her background in the martial arts to fight cancer? (July/Aug 2003 Kung Fu Qi Gong) That seemed an effective use without fists.
    My point is that it is so hard to judge something like the monks or martial arts because we don't have an agreed upon measuring system. If it helps someone, I say that it must be good. If it spreads a positive message, I say it must be good. If you are growing, learning, or improving, I say good. I think that's what it is all about.
    Peace be upon you and all of us.
    Last edited by freedom76; 05-30-2004 at 02:42 PM.
    Blah, blah, blah...

  4. #4
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    Best issue in a long time. Makes up for the last one.

    Simon, what's the best trolling motor...Endura, or Minn-Kota? Thought maybe you'd know
    Master...Teach me kung fu.

  5. #5
    Banjos, if you've ever read any of my previous posts you would know that I'm not a troll. I've been buying the mag for years and still re-read old issues occasionally. I feel that the newer mags are not of the same standard to some of the old ones such as the Wong Fei-hung issue etc.

    Freedom76, no the post wasn't directed at you personally

    I find the original Shaolin interesting, but not the new all for show one. Sure, the performances are authorised, but by whom? The PRC authorities more like than the monks themselves. Anyone who needs a reality check as to what the real Shaolin was like in the early 80's when all this started should read Jet Li's account. There were NO martial monks, and in fact only a handful of monks period.

    The monks as we know them are just standard wu shu guys. I wouldn't have a problem if they just toured doing wu shu demos. But instead they are using the name of Shaolin. Many of them perform the movements, do that Buddha be praised bowing motion, yet many of them aren't even Buddhists! C'mon, are you really trying to tell me that such things aren't exploitation?

    If Shaolin is supposed to be sacred and free from material needs and thoughts they sure are going the wrong way about it. Further, if the idea is to promote Shaolin beliefs and the temple itself then what's with all the martial arts demos!? Any genuine Shaolin believer would think of the martial arts as one of the most minor points of Shaolin and their Buddhist beliefs!

    I have no problem with promoting what they are. My problem with the monks and modern Shaolin is that it promotes what it isn't. If the Monastary doesn't show genuine martial monks and instead shows off wu shu guys pretending to be monks it doesn't say much for the honesty and openness of Shaolin now does it?

    A place with real Shaolin beliefs wouldn't see the need for a dishonest or exaggerrated portrayal of itself. Sure, there are geuine monks there, or at least there were when Jet Li first went there. They weren't martial though. Do you think they appreciated the commercialism and circus like mentality that the popularity of Jet's film brought about?

    Now they are trying to make Shaolin a peaceful place again, and people can learn martial arts/wu shu at the affiliated (or not) schools instead. So much for promoting Buddhism then.

    True Freedom76 all religion is a fabrication. However the practises of the current Shaolin are against most of the things their religion is supposed to stand for.

    As for the comments on fighting, your example of Helen Liang is a side effect of martial arts practise not the purpose of training. Martial arts are for fighting, period. Anything else is a bonus. Otherwise they wouldn't be called MARTIAL arts now would they?

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the comments, guys

    SimonW - I actually had you, or those who share your opinion, in mind when putting together this Shaolin issue. If you examine it, we focus specifically upon traditional Shaolin. We mention the wushu performance aspect, but that is really such a minor portion of what is happening at Shaolin Temple now. It just seems bigger because most of the travelling performance groups focus on wushu, so if you haven't studied at Shaolin, you might be lead to beleive that this is all they do. In fact, that's not the case at all, and if anything, traditional Shaolin is on the rise at Songshan. We also go at length to tackle the misperceptions of Buddhist monks and Shaolin monks, both in my cover sotry and in Dr. Shahar's scholarly analysis (which by the way, we're very pleased have published - most scholars of Dr. Shahar's stature wouldn't stoop to publishing in a popular magazine like this). Actually, Shaolin is going to great lengths to promote Buddhism, but we only report on a little of that since, frankly, we're a martial arts magazine, not a Buddhist magazine. Of course, the martial side is more blatent, so it's easy to misinterpret. I often see our role here at the mag to help translate Chinese culture to the west, to alleviate these misinterpretations.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  7. #7
    Hi Gene,

    I should point out that my comments were not directed specifically at this magazine issue (I haven't seen it yet) but rather the Shaolin phenomenon. I just had one of those moments where I got annoyed with people who seemingly suck up anything and everything written or said about Shaolin and take it as gospel.

    I'm glad to hear that you have placed an emphasis on traditional Shaolin this last issue and look forward to seeing it.

  8. #8
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    Dr. Shahar shares some of the only solid info easily found on what Shaolin was/is about.

    If he could only present a comprehensive history of Shaolin Temple.
    Master...Teach me kung fu.

  9. #9
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    Dr. Shahar's work

    He really only specializes on the Ming and Qing, and only Songshan Shaolin. That's what his book will be about.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  10. #10
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    Simon does have a point though, Shaolin is the new Bruce Lee.
    "The man who stands for nothing is likely to fall for anything"
    www.swindonkungfu.co.uk

  11. #11

    Shaolin

    Yep.

    Having finally received the latest issue, I'm afraid I am in moaning mode again. I was pretty dissappointed in this issue. The only article I found vaguely interesting was the Lion Books one. And even then it was only the promise of English language versions of the manuals that caught my attention.

    I would be very interested to see however what kinds of articles they have in their magazine. Unfortunately they are all in Chinese.

    I am at a point now where I am considering not buying the magazine anymore. It's fast becoming like some of the UK mags used to be (and still are to a degree sometimes) where an article is read, but three pages later it feels like you haven't read anything at all.

    Gene, if a Shaolin special really is needed again (the multitude of them in that back issues section proves there has been rather more than one or two of them!!) is there no article that traces the history of one of the mantis styles, or hung kuen etc through their relationship to Shaolin rather than the usual monks? How about an article on the myths and stories or otherwise of Fong Sai Yuk? What about the originator of Hung Gar? How about telling us about the real San Te?

  12. #12
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    Sorry, the 6/28/4 forum hack ate my reply

    Let me see if I can piece it back together...

    We appreciate your commnts, Simon. FWIW, the Shaolin Special 2004 is showing the best newsstand sales results so far this year. You may hve your issues with Shaolin, but more of our readers seem to take the opposite stance. We can't please everyone at the same time. That's just an issue of diversity in CMA.

    As for Lion Books and Taiwan, we've been running a series - the Treasures of Taiwan - since Mar Apr 2003. It is largely based on a cooperative effort we have shared with Lion books and Wulin Magazine. So it is available in English. Through us.

    As for Hung Gar origins, Fong Sai Yuk, and San Te, oh man, that just shot down any arguement you might have about the authenticity of Shaolin. Current research is pretty skeptical on these figures and origin myths. It's hard to do serious scholarly research here because it's such a mess. There's some good stuff on Hung moon and Tiandihui, but on the whole, it contradicts the martial myths, or leads us to beleive that it's all a fabrication, all inventions of tradition. We'd love some good penetrating submissions on this, and I think they will come soon, but right now, the research is a bit daunting. That being said, there are Hung Gar articles coming up in the next two issues. Nothing on mantis, Fong or San, but mabye later.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  13. #13
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    Originally posted by SimonW
    Although I do find it rather humourous and ironic that the same people who idolise the monks also much of the time idolise Bruce Lee. I wonder what Lee would have made of these modern 'monks'?!
    He would be traveling the world right now with his own group of (future movie star) wushu performers.
    Cut the tiny testicles off of both of these rich, out-of-touch sumbiches, crush kill and destroy the Electoral College, wipe clean from the Earth the stain of our corrupt politicians, and elect me as the new president. --Vash

  14. #14
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    WWBD?

    What would Bruce do? An intriguing question indeed. He would be 64 this year. Jackie's still in it at 50 and the word is that he just purchased a tract of land in China to train his next generation of stuntman. Some of the senior Shaolin monks and masters are older - Shi Suxi is 78, Shi Deqian is 61, Liu Baoshan is 74, Liang Yiquan is 73.... those are just the more popular Shaolin names that readers here might know - there are many more past the 7 decade mark. Longevity is Bruce's one failure.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  15. #15
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    Shaolin kungfu... it's not for everyone!

    Well, some may be utterly obsessed with Shaolin, but after seeing and meeting some of the monks in person, I still feel they're nothing short of truly amazing. Not to mention they are some of the kindest, gentlest souls I've met (and still able to whoop my @$$ with one finger!).

    It's not required to like Shaolin if you practice martial arts. Authentic DOES, not SAYS. A certain "father of iron palm" claimed to be authentic, but that did not stop him from falling hard from the train of wu de.

    You don't like Shaolin - that's okay...









    ... more for us!


    hope you find what you're looking for,

    h. ox

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