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Thread: Shaolin Temple UK

  1. #61
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    Shaolin Warrior - Shaolin Workouts


  2. #62
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    Thanks for the redirect!

    The clips I watched looked pretty good to me.

  3. #63
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    a review/testimonial

    HOW I SHAPED UP THE SHAOLIN WAY
    Monday February 6,2012
    By Alice Smellie

    IT IS 6am on a freezing cold winter morning. The sky is dark and the house quiet except for the muted panting of a seriously unfit woman. I am trying to follow a Shaolin disciple’s elegant movements on an exercise DVD. To be honest I’d rather be in bed.

    Welcome to my life attempting to be a Shaolin monk. I am neither male nor Chinese, traditional prerequisites, yet apparently I will live longer, have more energy and spurn junk food if I follow a 20-minute series of exercise, meditation and self-massage every morning.

    Why would a stressed-out Home Counties mum decide to follow the ancient teachings of Chinese monks? Strangely a film gave me the idea. I was watching the latest Johnny English comedy with my children and became intrigued by the Shaolin training that enables our spy to defeat baddies with just the power of his mind, and some elegant fighting moves.

    Could I defeat my three high-spirited children and regular insomnia with some similar mental discipline? I travel to the Shaolin Temple in north London to find out.

    After a two-and-a-half-hour drive in rush-hour traffic I’m sweating with frustration but the temple is calm, dark and cool inside. I am welcomed by Shaolin disciple Shifu Shi Yan Lei.

    Now 39 he left his family and home in the Chinese province of Xinjiang at the age of 14 to start his monk’s training. He founded the first Shaolin temple in Europe in London 10 years ago.

    These monks practice Zen Buddhism and while some chant and meditate, the warrior monks (the ones who smash planks with their bare hands) learn different styles of the martial arts of kung fu and qigong.

    Today I’ll be learning the more gentle version of qigong devised by an Indian monk 1,500 years ago to help ordinary people protect against stress and ill health.

    “The monks got tired meditating for hours and their bodies ached,” Yan Lei explains. “So exercises were created which allowed them to use their minds and their bodies at the same time.

    “These movements and breathing techniques both increase energy and prolong life as your organs are oxygenated and your posture and stamina improved. They can help insomnia, poor digestion, backache, disease and computer-related stress and anyone can do them.”

    The monks are mostly vegetarians although warrior monks, who practise six times a week for six hours a day, are allowed to eat meat.

    In the order food is treated as medicine so there is no processed food or sugar but lots of fresh vegetables, steamed bread and noodles.

    I’m sold. So sitting cross-legged and barefoot on the soft floor of the dimly lit temple he first shows me how to meditate. I close my eyes and concentrate on breathing in and out through my nose. All I can think about is how much I need to do at home.

    He then takes me through the exercises. First I am shown the Five Fundamental Stances which strengthen the legs and increase stamina by forcing you to use a different centre of gravity and muscles for balance.

    The breathing is crucial. “You have to breathe through your diaphragm,” says Yan Lei. This means you take in more oxygen. As directed I close my mouth and push my tongue against my teeth. As I inhale I pull in my tummy and diaphragm, a move specific to qigong called reverse breathing to make the exercises more effective. I concentrate hard and feel a little light-headed as my lungs are flooded with oxygen.

    Then he takes me through seven basic exercises needed for a routine called the Eight Treasures. The eighth exercise is when you link them all together. Focusing on breathing and slow movement I concentrate on keeping my balance as I move through the positions. I start with Push The Sky, pushing my hands to the side and above my head to activate the lungs.

    Next is Bow And Arrow where I move my arms back as though I’m an archer. It feels easy until he corrects me and I can feel my body protesting.

    I move into One Hand Plucking the Stars, moving one hand upwards and the other to the ground, before trying Take Your Shoes Off in which I rock backwards and forwards in a crouching position until I can feel my hamstrings object.

    Hold Your Feet works the back as you sway from foot to foot in a crouch and Clench The Fist is where you power punch outwards.

    We finish with Seven Stamps, literally stamping with both feet to clear the bad energy out of the body.

    Finally we breathe in and out deeply three times and finish by massaging our stomachs in a circular motion to help with digestion.

    I feel rejuvenated and ready to take on the challenges of the outside world. I am looking forward to testing out the regime at home and hopefully uniting my mind and body. I will apparently will be more flexible, youthful and peaceful.

    That’s how I find myself up half an hour earlier than necessary, stretching sleepily in the spare room.

    I move diligently through the exercises and then attempt two minutes of meditation.

    Finally I massage myself all over using a bamboo brush I have been given at the temple. This variant of body brushing is supposed to relieve stress and tension and stimulate the lymphatic system. The monks use a metal brush to perform the massage.

    I feel wide awake after the exercises. Perhaps it’s the peace as I perform the stretches that makes me feel less stressed than usual as I run around getting three children their breakfast, packing their bags and shooting out of the house by 8am.

    After 10 days I feel like a changed woman. I eat vast amounts of vegetables and have tried to avoid my customary mid-afternoon creme egg.

    I have more energy and am undoubtedly less stressed. I am also sleeping much better. My body feels stronger and best of all my tummy is flatter and I can feel new muscles in my thighs.

    I’m not sure I’ll be continuing to get up at 6am but I think I can incorporate the Shaolin movements into my life.

    As Yan Lei points out: “Even five minutes a day counts. After a year that’s 1,825 minutes towards a better you.”
    The good ol' 8 section brocade.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  4. #64
    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing View Post
    The good ol' 8 section brocade.
    Nothing like the Baduanjin to wake you up in the morning. but it never does anything for my insomnia

    Another YanLei too. how many are there now?
    Last edited by ShaolinDiva; 02-06-2012 at 10:44 AM. Reason: spelling

  5. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShaolinDiva View Post
    Another YanLei too. how many are there now?
    Another? The website given is at the end of the article is this one: http://www.shifuyanlei.co.uk/

    Is there any other Yanlei?

  6. #66
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    This might deserve it's own thread someday...

    ...or not.

    'The coalman, the Dragon and the Buddha'

    Nick Costello represents the Shaolin Buddhist Temple in Slane and has written a book called 'The Coalman, The Dragon & the Buddha, to be launched on Thursday, February 13, between 7 and 9 p.m. in the Westcourt Hotel. The book is about his own journey from his roots in Dublin to enlightenment in Hong Kong.

    All profits will be going to Shaolin Buddhist Temple (a registered charity), SOSAD and the Gary Kelly Centre.

    There will be a Chinese lion and dragon dance performed on the night for people's entertainment.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  7. #67
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    In the wake of the Festival

    I posted an article on Yanlei on our 3rd-Shaolin-Cultural-Festival-Chinese-Zodiac-&-Treasure-Exhibition thread. Here's another one.

    Ten Tips From A Shaolin Monk On How To Stay Young Forever
    The Mind Unleashed
    on 16 October, 2014 at 14:26



    People always say health is the most important thing but how many people live by this belief? We need to start today. In order to help us stay on the path to health I have translated an extract from one of the Shaolin Classics. Written by a monk who was a great martial artist and scholar, here he gives advice to lay people as to how to stay young and healthy.

    Ten Tips From A Shaolin Monk On How To Stay Young

    1) Don’t think too much. Thinking takes energy. Thinking can make you look old.

    2) Don’t talk too much. Most people either talk or do. Better to do.

    3) When you work, work for 40 minutes then stop for 10 minutes. When you look at something all the time, it can damage your eyes and also your internal organs and peace.

    4) When you are happy, you need to control your happiness, if you lose control then you damage your lung energy.

    5) Don’t worry too much or get angry because this damages your liver and your intestines.

    6) When you eat food don’t eat too much, always make sure you are not quite full as this can damage your spleen. When you feel a bit hungry then eat a little.

    7) When you do things, take your time, don’t hurry too much. Remember the saying “Hasten slowly you will soon arrive.”

    8) If you only do physical exercise all the time and you never do Qigong this makes you lose your balance and you will become impatient. You lose the Yin of your body. Exercise balances the Yin and the Yang.

    9) If you never exercise, just peace, meditation, soft training, Qigong, then this doesn’t give you Yang energy so you use up your Yang energy.

    10) Shaolin Gong Fu gives you everything. The purpose of our training is to balance our Yin and Yang. How many hours is not important. It’s down to knowing what your body needs.
    About the Author

    Shifu Yan Lei is a 34th generation Shaolin Gong Fu Master. Visit his blog here, and you can sign up to his newsletter, monthly training tips and archives. He also offers DVDs and meditative aids.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  8. #68
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    Ireland is still part of the UK, right?

    It's not just Great Britain...

    Get a kick from spa session with Shaolin monks
    Emma Jane Hade
    Published 21/09/2015 | 02:30


    Authentic Shaolin Masters Master Zheng and Master Jinlei Wang arrived to Ireland over the weekend from the Henan Province in China for a three month residency at Monart Destination Spa in Wexford where they will showcase of Shaolin Culture. Shaolin Masters served the people of China as warriors and Buddhist Monks for many centuries earning respect for their discipline, bravery, adaptability and action oriented approach

    From the Far East to the south east, two Shaolin masters have arrived to take up a three-month residency in an Irish spa.

    Masters Zheng and Jinlei Wang travelled from the ancient Shaolin Temple, in the Chinese province of Henan, to share their expertise in meditation with guests at the Monart Spa in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford.

    The duo have spent their lives training at the ancient temple and for the next three months they will showcase some of their traditions and their culture in the luxurious retreat.

    The masters come from a tradition which was historically famed for serving the people of China as warriors, and the duo will also showcase their martial arts skills.

    Irish Independent
    I know exactly what Masters Zheng And Wang are thinking: Best. Gig. Ever.
    Gene Ching
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  9. #69
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    Shaolin - the show coming to England

    There's a new live show coming to England called Shaolin which is resulting some promotional buzz like this.

    FT Masterclass: Kung fu with the Shaolin monks
    Barney Thompson


    Kung fu with Shaolin monks©Jack Latham

    Grip staff in right hand, kick staff, staff spins; step right and catch in crouching position. Thrust open hand to hit opponent as if coming from the left, balance.

    “Again.”

    Spin staff without hitting self in face until it arrives behind back, pointing straight. Look back over shoulder to the right before striking to left with edge of palm — crouch, right leg straight, staff behind back.

    “Again.”

    It takes Shi Miao Yi about half an hour to drill me in the opening section of yin shou gun, a basic form from the ancient art of Shaolin staff fighting. Performing everything he shows me in one go takes about seven seconds. Shi Miao Yi and other young monks are gamely attempting to teach me the fundamentals of the world-famous Shaolin martial arts routines and turn me into a gravity-defying kung fu fighter.

    While there are hundreds of different styles of kung fu, the origins of most of them can be retraced over the centuries to the legendary Shaolin Monastery in China’s Henan province. The monastery is said to have been founded in 495AD and, according to one theory, the exercises were developed to counteract the weakening effects of long hours of meditation; the Shaolin monastery’s other claim to fame is as the birthplace of Zen Buddhism.

    Over time, these exercises metamorphosed into an array of martial arts, partly as a means of self-defence. The monastery has been burnt down and its occupants persecuted on numerous occasions, including during the Cultural Revolution. Following a revival in the 1980s, millions have now visited the Shaolin monastery in the shadow of Mount Song, while troupes of monks tour the world, dazzling audiences with feats of strength, agility and endurance.

    Today, however, the Shaolin monks and I have wound up in a dance studio in a Butlin’s holiday camp in the English coastal resort of Bognor Regis. This is where they have spent much of the summer entertaining the campers, with jaunts to Minehead and Skegness thrown in, before moving on to three weeks of shows in London. In these less-than-monastic surroundings, it takes them all of a 30-minute warm-up to finish me off.

    The short sprints across the studio are fine, as is the hopping, but then we move from wall to wall with froglike squat-jumps. This is followed by a bandy-legged, Cossack-style kicking while circling the room, which looks vaguely comic until you try doing it.

    Next we line up in two rows of six and practise the classic kung fu crouching stances. We start with one knee bent, the other dead straight and — this is the tricky bit — the soles of both feet flat on the ground. Shi Miao Yi, who, at 22, is in charge of training, comes over to correct me; he knows only a few words of English; unfortunately one of them is “straight” (to go with “again”).

    Shi Miao Yi barks a command and 11 monks flick from left leg to right, not so closely followed by me. Another shout and we shift back, and back again, and so on, all at top speed, turning to confront imaginary opponents attacking front and behind.

    With feet still wide apart we squat low, our weight central, and begin punching — one fist out, the other withdrawn to the waist. The monks accompany each punch with a shout while I quietly focus on the growing burn in my thighs. For some relief we throw in a few press-ups — me with palms flat, everyone else on their fingertips.

    But the real torture is yet to come. Squatting again, we clasp our hands out in front of our stomachs and hold position. After 30 seconds my legs are on fire and the sweat is streaming down my face. Shi Miao Yi’s only reaction is to place a hand on my shoulder. “Relax.”

    After another 30 seconds my legs are shaking. I lean forward in an effort to bring some other muscles into play but Shi Miao Yi gently prods my back to straighten it. A few more seconds and I sink to the floor. The monks carry on until ordered to stand, but I am in no doubt the exercise was cut short to lessen my humiliation.

    The phrase “kung fu” translates roughly as “skill achieved through hard work”, though it has become synonymous with Chinese martial arts. I ask Shi Miao Xiong, the serene 25-year-old team leader, how often the monks practise. “Ten hours a day,” he replies. “We have about 20 days off a year.”

    Shi Miao Xiong began training at the Shaolin monastery when he was three, though he tells me that at that age boys are first tested to see if they are strong and healthy enough to endure the lifestyle of a fighting monk. “I soon fell in love with kung fu so I took it seriously,” he says.

    Does he have a favourite style? “There are about 500,” he says. “I know only about 50.” He smiles and adds: “But my favourite is probably the Shaolin long knife.”

    Some people credit the monastery’s revival in recent decades to the 1982 Jet Li film The Shaolin Temple. The idea is an appealing one: the modern medium for myths helping to revive the fortunes of a temple wreathed in martial legends. Meanwhile the monks’ successful tours of live shows have spread the magic beyond martial arts fans.

    Shi Miao Xiong says his team will spend about three months this year on tour but adds the amount of travel varies considerably. How much of the show is real kung fu and how much stunts to wow the crowds? “I’d say about half and half,” says Shi Miao Xiong. “Some of our real training is too boring to attract people to the show. On stage we have to be quicker, stronger and combine everything with the sound and lighting.”

    Having completed our exercises and drills, I am offered a choice of weapons: sword, whip or staff. I choose the staff because, apart from fists and feet, it seems to me to be the quintessential weapon of the Shaolin monk.

    As with all the forms and patterns in kung fu, the devil is in the minute, maddening detail. Shi Miao Yi is patient and encouraging but relentless.

    Whoosh staff from behind back to clobber opponent; do same through 180° to zap second opponent coming other way. Crouch and thrust left again, whack staff on floor, do not mangle fingers; straighten left leg and bend right knee, thrust staff to right, look over left shoulder . . .

    “Again.”

    Barney Thompson is a reporter and editor on the FT’s UK news desk. The Shaolin Monks will be performing at The Pea**** Theatre in London from September 29 to October 17
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  10. #70
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    Ireland

    I keep thinking I should split this into an independent thread...someday.

    Shaolin Staycation: A spa break with a difference at Monart in Enniscorthy
    Stress? What stress?
    Nicola Brady Published 01/11/2015 | 02:30


    Shaolin Master classes at Monart Spa

    A Shaolin Experience in Enniscorthy makes for a stress-busting staycation with a difference, says Nicola Brady.

    Set the mood

    I'm mirroring the motions of a Shaolin Master, who is dressed in orange robes and moving slowly and methodically. He has little English; the verbal instruction he gives is mostly limited to "breathe in… breathe out". Oddly though, being told when to breathe is almost as relaxing as the movements themselves.

    I'm in a Qi-Gong masterclass, learning the eight ancient exercises of the Shaolin, which promote health and longevity. But I'm far from the Henan Province in China, where Masters train. I'm in the depths of Wexford, at Monart Destination Spa, where a pair have taken up residence to showcase their 2,000-year-old traditions through classes, demonstrations and treatments.

    Guilty Pleasure

    Dinner in Monart's restaurant is included in the Shaolin Experience package, and it's a decadent affair, far from preconceived notions of spa cuisine.

    Rich, intricate dishes utilise the best of Irish produce, including a notable starter of ravioli stuffed with plump Dublin Bay prawns. Classic roast chicken is a dish that can be difficult to impress with, but I enjoyed a flawlessly succulent breast paired with creamy hints of goat's cheese that left me too full for dessert, but the chocolate and passion fruit torte proved tempting, regardless.

    The breakfast is just as impressive, with a wide selection of fruits, compotes and pastries. Be sure to save room for the Eggs Benedict, though.


    A dessert from Monart Spa's restaurant

    Cheap Kick

    Classes led by the Shaolin Masters are free for all guests at Monart, and include Qi-Gong, Tai Chi and meditation. There can be up to six a day, all designed to relieve stress, promote strength and release tension. I left each class with a feeling of intense calm, my usual hurried pace reduced to a serene amble. Tai Chi proved a little trickier than Qi-Gong, with our floundering efforts leaving one Master in giggles. But it's worth filling your schedule with as many classes as possible, for maximum benefit.

    Top tip

    Between classes, make the most of the exemplary spa facilities that Monart is famed for, from the infrared sauna to the salt grotto. Don't bother packing too much, either - the vast majority of guests spend their time in bathrobes, dressing only for dinner.

    Insider Intel

    Shaolin Warrior Massage was designed by the Shaolin (who served China as warriors and Buddhist monks) to keep the body healthy and strong, ensuring the warriors stayed fighting fit. It's far from a traditional massage - you're fully clothed, and the movements are percussive, fast-paced and strong. It may not be to everyone's liking, but it's one of the best treatments I've ever had.

    Glitches

    Monart is keen to uphold its reputation as a cocoon free from distractions, but the lack of in-room WiFi is a little grating (it can be found in the old house, however). Tea and coffee facilities should be in the bedrooms at this price point, too.

    Get me there

    Monart's Shaolin Experience package includes two nights with breakfast, dinner on one evening, full use of the spa facilities, access to all of the classes and a Shaolin Warrior Massage. Prices start from €299pps. The Shaolin Masters are in residence until December 13. The five-star resort is just outside of Enniscorthy, 130km from Dublin. See monart.ie for more. If you want to venture off-campus, take a look at visitwexford.ie for things to do in Wexford.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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    Shi Yanmin opens his doors

    Hampshire's first Shaolin temple to open

    .
    UK Shaolin Temple celebrate the launch of the animation Kung Fu Panda 3 at the Odeon in Southampton.

    2 days ago / Rebecca Pearson, Reporter

    THEY are the ultimate Buddhist warriors.

    Known for amazing feats of strength, flexibility and pain endurance the Shaolin monks have been looked to for their outstanding Kung Fu skills for 1,500 years.

    But now, for the first time in history, Hampshire is set to get its own Shaolin temple.

    The UK Shaolin Temple will today open its doors with a bumper celebration of firecrackers, dancing dragons and martial arts demonstrations.

    The Southampton temple features martial arts training and meditation rooms and the charity hopes to expand in the near future to provide Chinese language and arts classes, making the premises the UK’s only Chinese cultural centre of it’s type.

    The UK Shaolin Temple was founded by 34th-generation Shaolin warrior monk Shi Yan Min in 2002 but up until now the organisation has been using schools and church halls across the south to meet and provide classes.

    Now the charity has transformed a former car mechanic’s premises into a Shaolin retreat and a little piece of China in the heart of the city.

    Shi Yan Min said: “I had a strong vision of what I wanted to create – an environment that would help and inspire learning and teaching, but also a retreat from the pressures of life.

    “As you can appreciate we also had to have a good imagination to see the possibility of the garage, and faith in people to know its potential could be fulfilled in a short space of time with limited resources. We have received unprecedented kindness and generosity in time and resources.

    “This includes our members, our extraordinary new neighbours Southampton Makerspace, and local businesses across Hampshire. The vision of this temple would not have been realised without them.”

    Everyone is welcome to join in the celebrations which will begin with a dragon dance along Shirley Road in Freemantle from 11.30am.

    People are asked to take photos of the dragon as it makes its way along the high street and post them to social media site Twitter using the hashtag #FollowTheDragon.

    The dragon will be greeted at the temple in Liners Industrial Estate in Pitt Road at 12pm by the Mayor of Southampton Cllr Linda Norris and police and crime comissioner Simon Hayes and Ms Ma Lei and Mr Feng Xirong from the Chinese Embassy.

    The Mayor will cut the ribbon officially opening the temple at 12.30pm and students will show off the martial arts skills with demonstrations from 12.45pm.

    The temple, which welcomes people of all backgrounds and religions, will be the only Shaolin Buddhist temple in the south coast - with the next nearest in London and Bristol.

    For more details about the temple and classes call 0845 519 6698 or visit ukshaolintemple.com.
    I don't know Yanmin offhand, but I gave up trying to keep track of overseas Shaolin monks years ago...
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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    Yanzi makes the news

    Shaolin: It’s a knowledge, it’s a master key


    You learn a philosophy: Shifu Shi Yanzi brings the way of Shaolin

    Published: 14 July, 2016
    by STEVE BARNETT

    HIDDEN away in the province of Tufnell Park is a martial arts temple guarding “the master key to life”.

    Many are familiar with the giant red gates in Junction Road, but what lies behind them is as mysterious today as it was when they first appeared in north London some 18 years ago.

    For many, martial arts is a codified system of combat, practised for a vast variety of reasons, ranging from self-defence, military and law enforcement, to physical fitness or simply letting off steam after a hard day at the office.

    At the Shaolin Temple UK, however, students learn “the truest translation” of martial arts: the art of not fighting.

    Founded in 1998 by 34th generation fighting monk Shifu Shi Yanzi, the Shaolin Temple UK is an official emissary of the 1,500-year-old Shaolin Temple in Henan Province in China.

    The first disciple of the Abbot Venerable Shi Yong Xin, Shifu Shi Yanzi has dedicated 35 years to Shaolin, which he describes as “three cultures in one”.

    As the Grandmaster recalls: “I first started training at the Song Shan Shaolin Temple in Henan Province in China when I was 16. I wanted to join the army, but I was too young. So instead I moved to the Shaolin Temple. It was my dream.

    “In 1998 I came to London to set up the first Shaolin Temple in the UK. It was quite hard at the time because I didn’t speak English. But if you know what you’re doing, if you’re passionate and have heart, you will make it work.

    “In the beginning I didn’t have any students, so I taught all around London so that people knew who I was.

    “I went everywhere.”

    Shifu Shi Yanzi now lives in King’s Cross and, with great calm, he explained what students learned behind those giant red gates was more than just martial arts – it was a way of life.

    “Normally people teaching martial arts, like boxing, kickboxing or Thai boxing, they just teach,” he said.

    “They don’t talk about life, about wisdom, or about karma.

    “Shaolin is a really rich culture, it’s three cultures in one – Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism.

    “That’s why it is so famous and well-known.”

    Explaining the importance behind the temple’s discipline, Shifu Shi Yanzi added: “You cannot learn the proper kung fu if you have ego, anger, or selfishness in your heart.

    “That’s why when I teach you, I have to make sure that the seeds grow properly.

    “I’ve been here for 18 years. I have a lot of students who come back to say thank you, to say that they appreciate what they have been taught.

    “Shaolin is knowledge, it’s a master key. You learn a philosophy that will help calm you down, it will help you find answers and give you direction.

    “If you come here, and Shaolin gives you direction, and gives you the energy you need to guide your life, then I’m very happy – but you don’t have to thank me too much because it’s my duty. It’s my job.”

    The Shaolin Temple UK holds regular classes, including Kung Fu-Ch’an, Qi Gong and Ch’an Buddhism. Details: call 020 7687 8333 or visit www.shaolintempleuk.org
    The painting in that photo looks like it was based on Yanneng.
    Gene Ching
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  13. #73
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    Repurposing an abandoned railway station

    The Shaolin Temple In An Abandoned Railway Station
    BY HARRY ROSEHILL

    When you find yourself furiously whacking your forehead with a bundle of sticks, let's hope you're at the Shaolin Temple in Tufnell Park.



    Before we get onto the self-flagellation, a little background on the building the temple resides in: it used to be Junction Road railway station, a stop on what's now the London Overground line between Gospel Oak and Barking (affectionately known as the GOBLIN). The station lay between Gospel Oak and Upper Holloway and is the subject of a characteristically upbeat John Betjeman poem entitled Suicide on Junction Road Station after Abstention from Evening Communion in North London.

    The station was closed in 1943 after the nearby Tufnell Park station opened on the Northern line. The temple came along in 2001, the last time the building was up for sale. It'll hope that recent calls to reopen the station won't come to fruition.



    We were curious to know what attracted people to kung fu and the Shaolin lifestyle. Growing up we'd always associated kung fu with Bruce Lee movies and the music of Wu Tang Clan. And talking to Elliott — who works at Shaolin Temple and trained here for many years — that's the initial jumping off point for most people.

    Yet although that's what drew him to the temple, it's not what he stuck around for. Instead, qi gong — an ancient Chinese health care system based around flexibility, core strength and meditation — was where Elliott's attention shifted. We'll come to our own experience with qi gong soon, but in layman's terms it's a a kind of ancient Chinese yoga. With self-flagellation.

    Shaolin Temple offers two classes most nights, a meditation and qi gong session, followed by a more traditional kung fu session. The temple's demographic has changed, as Tufnell Park had changed around it. Qi gong and the like are now practised widely by those who've gentrified the area. Not that Elliott views this as a positive or negative thing, rather just an aspect of life.



    It was time to get hands on. First came meditation. We're rather fidgety, so this could have gone better. It proved difficult to focus on breathing with trains constantly rattling by. Elliott had told us that meditation went hand in hand with physical training (there was no way we'd be mastering this today). After a seemingly eternal half an hour, we moved onto the qi gong... which is where the real difficulties began.

    The lesson started with some simplistic core exercises we could just about keep up with, and even a move akin to Goku from Dragon Ball Z's kamehameha, which roused a sense of childhood joy. Then the instructor spoke those five fateful words. "Now we do the splits."

    Then the instructor spoke those five fateful words. "Now we do the splits."
    As low as we could go, the distance between our legs was still at rather an acute angle. When the instructor wandered over, we gave him a look, appealing to his sense of pity... suddenly we felt our legs kicked further apart. After that, everything was a struggle, John Betjeman's poem popping into our mind on more than one occasion.

    The act of hitting ourselves turned out to be our favourite part of either class. Apparently it's an energy massage (though this wasn't made clear at the time) and begins with the class slapping each part of their body with their palm, before moving onto the brush. Despite straying too close to a delicate region a few times, it turned out to be a pretty painless, almost enjoyable experience.
    It was time for the next class to drain our joy.



    The trendy qi gong crowd seemed to have scarpered. Instead, here for the kung fu class, was a group who'd been drawn in by those Bruce Lee movies, and the ever increasing popularity of MMA.

    Journalistic integrity was at stake and we didn't feel we could cover the Shaolin Temple without both experiences. On we went. The second class started with some similar aspects of the first, the core holds and ****ed splits. This time our legs weren't kicked apart, so either the instructor had decided to take pity on us, or has forever widened our stance. Then we practised kicking as high as possible — at alarming pace.

    Either the instructor had decided to take pity on us, or has forever widened our stance.
    At this point we employed a trick from our school days — trying to do as little in PE classes as possible. Every time the instructor looked away we stood still, desperately trying to catch our breath. No, we're not proud, but to adopt the oft-quoted wartime phrase: "I did what I had to, to survive."

    Then it was time for a drill where we'd try and string some punches and blocks together. This had a rhythmic quality to it; when we moved in the right direction with the rest of the class it felt amazing... though it meant we looked like a real sore thumb the few times we didn't.


    People far more flexible than the author. Photo: Shaolin Temple

    Finally, a (brief) fling with sparring. Here, we made a miraculous discovery — we're weren't the only ones dead on out feet. Our partner seemed to have as little behind his punches as us... if punches is the right term. Rather, it was like falling towards each other with our hands in front of us, followed by lengthy pauses.

    It turned out our partner, whose name we've shamefully forgotten (possibly a sign we were in pure survival mode at this point), was also a relative newcomer to kung fu. For him, it turned out, kung fu was just one in a long line of martial arts he'd tried before falling out of practise. Perhaps Shaolin Temple was the place to get back into it. Although, judging by his punches, perhaps not.

    Ultimately our fitness had let us down, though considering we did back-to-back classes that's not surprising. Shaolin Temple is an outpost for the tradition of Shaolin culture, catering to both young and old, those who can do the splits and those who can't. And just when you feel you're about to collapse from exhaustion, you discover it's got a vegetarian restaurant too.

    Get involved with Shaolin Temple.

    All photos by the author unless specified.
    Last Updated 03 January 2017
    That's got to be interesting architecture. Reminds me of our own repurposed auto shop.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  14. #74
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    Full On Shaolin Kung Fu Training | Joel & Nish Vs The World | Comedy Central

    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  15. #75
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    Shi Yanzi - back in the ring at 51

    Wow, Yanzi is 51 already. How time flies. I should really split this off into an indie thread for him, because he's one of the pioneers.

    Follow the link for a vid:
    51-yr-old Shaolin master prepares for fighting competition
    1 2018-10-19 15:17:52 Ecns.cn Editor : Gu Liping

    (ECNS)--Shi Yanzi, aged 51, is a prominent Gong Fu master. He is one of the chief disciples of Shi Yongxin, abbot of the Shaolin Temple in China. Shi is currently training for the Chinese Martial Arts World competition where he will face a famous Tanzanian fighter on the evening of October 19 in Zhengzhou.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

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