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Thread: Shaolin Temple Documentaries

  1. #1

    Shaolin Temple Documentaries

    I’m currently editing a documentary about the Shaolin Temple and have been searching for any good documentaries that has footage of the Shaolin Temple pre-1990's. Most of the docs I've seen were made fairly recently, it seems like the most "old school" doc I've seen is “Shaolin Kung Fu” (Shaolin Zhen Gongfu) with monk Shi De Yang. I'm particularly interested in finding footage during the period before and after the Jet Li Shaolin Temple movie came out.

    So far, the documentaries I have watched are:
    -Shaolin Kungfu (Shaolin Zhen gongfu)- doc. with Jet Li and Shaolin monks. Memorable scene of Shi Xing Cheng doing iron palm slapping 4 bricks, which only cracks the top one, but actually all 4 are broken down the middle.
    -This is Kung Fu- doc. of gongfu throughout China
    -Secrets of the Warrior's Power- good general doc about gongfu
    -Myths and Logic of Shaolin Kungfu- Recent National Geographic doc.
    -The Empty Mind- Good doc. Recently made about training at Shaolin, Wudang & Japan.
    -Shaolin Ulysses- Zhang Li Peng's dad’s section has a bit of info.
    -Shaolin Wheel of Life- short doc in extras section.
    -French doc- “Mysterious powers of the Shaolin monk”, has footage of young Shi De Cheng and Wan Heng europe performance tour.
    -Discovery Channel- “Ancient warriors” episode about Shaolin.
    -Shaolin Temple w/Jet Li- not a doc but useful nonetheless.
    -Dragons of the Orient- no comment
    -Real Chinese Kung Fu- 1964 b/w footage of masters in Taiwan.

    If you know of any other docs dealing with Shaolin, Especially pre-90’s please let me know.

    Thanks,
    Alexander
    Last edited by hanguolaohu; 03-12-2010 at 06:17 PM. Reason: Removed e-mail address to avoid spam

  2. #2
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    Look for the one on Hai Deng.

    I think it is called:

    "Hai Deng- Immortal Beacon of compassion" or "Hai Deng- Abbot of Shaolin" (or something like that).

    It's a doc on Shaolin that talks about Hai Deng and how he returned to Shaolin to begin reinstilling the martial arts there in the 1960's (Pre CR I believe). the film was compiled in 88 I think, but I could be off on that too seeing as I only saw it once or twice so long ago.

    I understand he left after a time due to old age and illness but mostly out of disgust because of the intentions of his political masters.

    anyway, What is shown about Hai Deng in the film is quite impressive and even amazing. he was a master of Shaolin Kungfu specializing in one finger zen. His skill in that was, well, stunning. I haven't seen anyone do a sustained one finger hand stand except for this guy, and though he was diagonal against a wall, I still haven't seen anyone do that either. pretty neat stuff if you can find it.
    Kung Fu is good for you.

  3. #3
    too bad they didnt show how he got on the wall with one finger...
    that i would like to see
    instead of from him sitting dwn to camera off to camera on to him on wall using one finger *support*

  4. #4
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    Hey Alexander!

    I think I mentioned the Hai Deng one to you via email, didn't I?

    Pk_StyLeZ: I think there's a kick up to a two-finger, two-hand stand in our Extreme Kungfu Qigong video - here a link to an e-zine article on it. That article might address some of the qigong questions Alex had for me too - I can't remember if I passed it along yet...

    As for the Hai Deng one, the one in the doc, it's at such a weird angle that I'm sure it's faked. Not that he couldn't do it, although maybe not as the age for the documentary...

    Did you know that Hai Deng was actually the first Shaolin monk to come to America?
    Gene Ching
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  5. #5

    Abbot Hai-Teng

    Thanks, I've ordered the Hai-Teng doc on VHS. I've seen footage of him including the one finger zen pose in "Shaolin Zhen Gongfu". What's funny is my Chinese friend saw that documentary many years ago in China, and she said there was a rumor that the one finger zen was faked, which brings up the question why the film starts with him already in that position as opposed to him lifting himself into it.

    I have filmed a few people doing two finger zen (two fingers, one hand). The guy was in his 30's and had very thick fingers and after about 10 seconds in that position he stopped and actually cried. What's interesting about the Hai-Teng footage is his finger is hardly bent from the pressure of the handstand, whereas all the other two finger zens I have filmed of guys in their physical prime, their fingers are bent and you can see the physical exertion of such a difficult feat.

    I believe qigong is real, and it'll help to accomplish great things, but there's something about that footage that seems a bit fishy.

    Alexander

  6. #6
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    What makes you guys suppose it s faked?
    There are other stills of Hai Deng in this pose and plenty of
    people who have seen him do it. Both the 2 and one finger Chan poses.

    I guess it could be faked, but why bother? Why not just show it for what it is?
    I mean most people are impressed with jumping kicks, why do something as boring as an arhat posture difficult or not?
    Kung Fu is good for you.

  7. #7

    Hey Gene!

    Hey Gene!
    We posted at almost the same time, but you beat me to it. Well, glad to know I'm not the only one who thinks that the one finger zen looks fake. No disrespect to Hai-Deng, he is an amazing man, but even qigong masters have to obey some of the laws of physics.

    Jamieson, I'm curious where have you seen other stills of Hai-Deng doing one finger zen? Also, who are these "other people" who have seen him do it? I would like to get in contact with these people.

    Also, anyone can do a jumping kick, but I've only seen Hai-Deng do true 1 finger zen. That's very impressive, especially considering he was in his 80's when that was filmed. Around Shaolin, some young performers do 2 hands 2 fingers. The guy on the Shaolin Wheel of Life tour does two hands one finger. I've only seen one guy at Shaolin to true 2 finger zen (one hand two fingers). I'm sure there are are other, I've only seen 1 finger zen in that doc with Hai-Deng.

    Thanks,
    Alexander

  8. #8
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    Hai Deng makes me think it was faked...

    Hai Deng came to the US for a short stint to promote the documentary, even though it wasn't really being shown here anywhere. It was before there was much of a market for such videos. I've talked with a Buddhism professor who was there. Unfortunately, all though he gave me plenty of leads, that professor didn't really want to publish anything - I'm not sure why. I've followed up on a few of those leads, but they've all panned out unfortunately. Anyway, that professor told me in confidence that Hai Deng was none to happy with the way the whole doc went - remember that it was shot in more oppressive times in PRC, especially for Buddhists. He alluded that the finger handstand was faked. I think if you look at it in the doc, it's just too weird. The way his shoulder is bent, it really doesn't look very convincing to me, especially after workin g on handstands in yoga... but who knows? I believe he could do it at one time, maybe even at that time, but I don't think he did it for that doc.

    I too would be interested in seeing other photos of the handstand. Can you hook us up here?

    You know, I have another doc VCD or DVD (not sure which yet) on Yujian Shaolin, by networld zeenji. I haven't watched it yet - I suppose I should. I also have a VCD of Dejian's doc that was CCTV - That's the one where they are doing these crazy qinna things on the eddge of this big cliff on Songshan. I'm not sure what I did with that. For more on Dejian and Zeenji - check out the Shaolin special 2005.

    There's also that Empty mind doc that you mentioned on email, which I really like, except the Shaolin section is...well...questionable...
    Gene Ching
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  9. #9
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    Hai Deng 1 finger Chan

    Hai Deng Two finger Chan when younger

    as for who would have seen him do it, well, how about the people that were there?

    btw and fwiw, there is another picture of him that I can't find right now, but I'll ask around for it.

    it shows Hai Deng prepping for one finger chan with a single handstand and walking his feet up the wall. Once he is in position, he lifts to the single finger.

    IMO, it's about compression and balance. Stillness is key, like the handless headstand and other such upsidedown arhat postures.

    anyway, I'm sure it is indeed possible that anything like this can be faked. Especially if a person was using a highspeed camera to shoot a two finger chan posture like in the big book o'shaolin monk pictures where the monk is actually doing a flip, but the photo was taken at the top of the arc and hence looks like a sustained posture. I suppose it's even possible that it was faked for the film on Hai Deng. Anything is possible...even 1 finger Chan.

    p.s I remember him showing off some iron vest skills too. Getting whacked across the chest by a student with a relatively short staff (if it was long, big deal that's a parlour trick, but this was a short staff).

    Now, I don't know too many old men who can take a blast across the guts and chest from a short staff.

    so... give it up for the old man you naysayers! lol Starting fires with Chi is one thing, but kungfu is another entirely.

    peas
    Last edited by David Jamieson; 04-15-2005 at 05:27 PM.
    Kung Fu is good for you.

  10. #10

    Haideng the legend

    Gotta agree with Gene on how Haideng’s one finger chan was filmed. But my question is why would Haideng not be satisfied with how the documentary was filmed? Did they force him to do fake one finger zen, perhaps because if he really did it he could realistically only last a few seconds instead of claiming he could do it for one full hour? And the doc seems to promote Buddhism and Shaolin culture, but perhaps myths or legends instead of truth?

    The photo “Hai Deng 2 finger chan when younger” picture caption translates to “Movie was screened in many parts of Sichuan, and inside the movie there’s a 75 year old. Haideng monk. Monk’s wushu picture. Fall of ’79”.

    Jamieson, where did you find this picture? The photo is dated fall of ’79 and Haideng was 75 years old “in a movie”. The doc we know of in the US as “Abbot Hai-Teng” (Shao lin Hai Deng Da Shi) is listed on Imdb as made in 1988, and supposedly Haideng was 86 years old. So perhaps there was an earlier documentary of him that was made in China? And Haideng was a disciple of Suxi or who?

    Jamieson, I read your threads at:
    http://forum.kungfumagazine.com/foru...hp/t-2233.html
    http://forum.kungfumagazine.com/foru...p/t-10064.html

    Those websites you mentioned in the 2nd post are no longer up. I couldn’t find any more pics of Haideng on your “kunglek” website.

    According to Liang Shou Yu's book Kungfu Elements: "Haideng Fashi(1902-1989)- Also known as Fan Wubing. He was a prominent practitioner in the recent past. At age 21, he became a monk in the Emei Mountains and trained in Yizhijin, Erzhichan, Tongzigong, and Shaolin Wuquan. He was the former Henan Shaolin Temple Abbot and Vice Chairman of the China Buddhist Association."

    Gene, what is yujian Shaolin? I'd like to check that out. And I have the VCD's of De Jian already, there are 2 series, each on 2 discs. One has a picture on the cover of a lotus blossom, the other of a sail boat. They are both very interesting, De Jian's gongfu is different than any other style I have seen. A lot of emphasis on breathing techniques and movements are slower but explosive. I was introduced to his martial brother De Feng when I first visited Shaolin. Got to hang out in the bamboo garden, I hope to the Gods that part isn’t being rebuilt.

    I also have a few documentaries from China about the top 100 wushu masters. I cleaned that VCD lady on Beihuan Lu out of documentaries. The problem was there are few of these sort of documentaries as most wushu students are interested only in buying routines or techniques VCD’s, very few young people are interested in the traditions or history. Sad…

    Alexander

  11. #11
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    hmm, well, websites come and go as people no longer maintain them or can no longer afford them or for any number of reasons.

    It will pop in and out again though I am sure...like anything else. lol

    there's nothing new under the sun it is said, and if there is, it's probably just that it is so old it is forgotten.

    good luck with your film, I would like to see it when done.

    cheers
    Kung Fu is good for you.

  12. #12
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    Abbot Haideng

    First thing, before this goes much further, I should state for the record that I beleive that Haideng was very genuine. That professor who originally told me of Haideng's stay in California felt he was authentic, and that professor's focus was Buddhism. That prof is a practicing Chan Buddhist, and at the same time, very scholarly, so based on his impression, I'm fairly convinced. Also, the few Shaolin monks that crossed paths with Haideng seem to hold him in high reverence.

    Now the story behind Haideng is rather messy. He is listed as a Abbot, but clearly he is an honorary Abbot - not officially ordained by Shaolin Temple. His presence at Shaolin predates Shaolin Temple (the movie) and as we all know, that changed everything. Some claim that Haideng was "installed" at Shaolin as part of Deng's Open Door policy, a strange attempt to increase tourism at Shaolin prior to the film's impact. You have to remember that prior to the movie, there was only a dirt mountain road to Shaolin - it was hard to get to - now there's a highway, of course... Anyway, Liang's reseach is parallel to mine - Haideng was originally from Emei, not Shaolin. Of course, monks do change monastaries, but this also lends some weight to the theory that he was installed in that position by the Government. The claim goes on to say that Haideng wasn't happy about it at all and the documentary was some sort of propagandist manipulation that he was forced into. Please keep in mind, this is just hearsay, but since you asked...

    As for Yujian Shaolin, it is a co-op project between Taiwan and Shaolin. This is the same group as discussed in our Biggest Buddha in the World article in the Shaolin special 2005, but if you really want to get at it, please see our Seven Temples of Henan article in the previous Mar Apr 2005 issue.
    Gene Ching
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  13. #13
    hey love those photos

    Hai Teng was in NYC in 87 or 88. I wasn't present but my sifu and the rest of the East Coast Kung Fu Federation had a banquet in his honor.

    My sifu has alot of photos from the event.

    He told me that the old monk's hands were constantly shaking and was his belief was due to iron palm etc.

    He did find out that there was a monk that taught Eagle Claw at Shaolin who had learned from Chan Tzi Ching. Nothing more on that.


    What I've heard over the years is that he was appointed as the abbott due to his knowledge in Buddhism more so than his Martial ARts.

    Question: How was the present Abbott elected. Is it a process like the New Pope??

    I also heard that there was some disagreement regarding shaolin procedures which ended up with Hai Teng and His students being removed from Shaolin. I believe the guy on the documentary doing the saber/bench is teaching in Canada?

  14. #14
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    Elected abbots?

    Buddhist Abbots are determined by dharma transmission. In essence, they are selected from the Abbot's top disciples. Usually, this is signified by the passing of the Abbot's bowl and long robe. If you read Transmissions of the Lamp you can trace Chan/Zen lineage all the way back to Buddha. Abbot Shi Yongxin was a disciple of the previous abbot, Shi Xingzhen, and says that he received Xingzhen's bowl and robe - I documented that in our Shaolin Special 2000 cover story. What confounds this is that these transmissions are often in secret. Also, in modern China, I'm sure that the PRC's department of religion has a lot of say.

    hanguolaohu: I thought of two more Shaolin 'documentaries' but they are kind of goofy.

    There was a documentary done with David Carridine going to Shaolin, dressed like Kwai Chang Caine no less. He has an audience with Shi Yongxin and hangs out with Shi Deyang. There's also an unbearable scene where he meets Jackie Chan and starts boasting to Jackie about how he got some injuries filming Kung Fu. Oh man...

    There was also an episode of Yan Can Cook, where Martin Yan visits Shaolin. The Shaolin parts are really short and somewhat silly. There's this hilarious scene when Martin 'peeks into the kitchen' at Shaolin. Now I've been in the kitchen. It's kind of disturbing in an unsanitary sort of way. Yan peeks in, then is magically transported to his pristine studio kitchen where he prepares this vegetarian meal that's supposed to be like the monks eat - I can't remember what it was exactly, but I do remember that Yan made some kind of fruity dessert. I've eaten at Shaolin too. They certainly don't eat that. Oh man...
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  15. #15
    didnt read any of the post but beside the one gene replied to me
    yeah i seen the two finger hand stand..with two hand.... done in person in front of me..that was pretty amazing...but then again the kid was really skinn..so wasnt dat much weight for the 4 fingers i guess....
    but i stil want to see an actualy footage of someone getting onto the one finger
    not pictures of movies that jus turns on and u on one finger
    make me tink its fake too..unless i see an actualy footage of the whole process

    if it was posted..then i must reread later..as i gotta go to work right now

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