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Thread: Shaolin Journeys

  1. #16
    I'm glad to hear you're doing well.

    I think they should name a wing after Martin AKA The Dirtiest Ninja and I miss both Panda and his sister. Taiwan should be in Wu Dang and I'm glad to hear he is. His sword forms were always incredible and when I got a chance to stay there and watch them practice on the top of the mountain he was the first person I thought about.

    Man, that kids style is sharp. I just hope he's not having any more wrist problems.

    Glad to hear Sebastian and Max are doing well, although I heard through the Shaolin grapevine our Chelsea brother left with a less than graceful exit. But all in all it sounds like things are well.

    Punch Fabian in chest for me.

    Cheers mate.

  2. #17
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    Do you want us to take off our clothes now?

    Wow, the Russian girls at Shaolin....
    Interviewing "friendly" foreigners at Shaolin temple: by Murray Walker
    2009-07-06 15:44 BJT

    Before arriving at the Shaolin Temple in Henan I had envisioned a white-bearded Shaolin octogenarian monk imparting wisdom and Shaolin secrets to students on a misty mountaintop. Maybe that image is a little embellished, I have still got scenes from Kill Bill and Karate Kid swimming around in my head. Still though, I was hoping to be romanced just a little bit by the Shaolin mystique. Suffice it to say, it didn’t work out that way. In short, no old guy, no mountain and no mist.

    This program was a little different because we had no director calling the shots. It was just the cameraman, Mr. Lee, an assistant, Xiao Wei and yours truly. The show was meant to be solely interview based. The plan was this: find a bunch of foreigners training Shaolin kungfu and bullet them with questions re their experience. So, we headed off to the foreigner-training center just near the Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng. I had been told to expect about a hundred friendly foreign faces. There weren’t that many, in fact not even close. There were only ten! Okay, not a train-smash. From them I reckoned we could get six maybe seven four-minute interviews, throw in a couple stand ups and shots of scenery and program done. Only one problem, well three actually. Three of the interviewees are kids and don’t have all that much to say, the Spanish guy doesn’t speak a lick of English and the two Russian girls refuse to be interviewed. Now, we can prep the kids beforehand to get more details out of them, not much we can do about the Spanish guy but we can at least get him training. And finally, I can hopefully coerce the Russian girls to give us a few words. Perhaps.

    The following is pretty much verbatim the exchange I had with the one Russian girl.

    “Hi there, I’m with CCTV9 and we’re making a show about how foreigners view Shaolin kungfu. Do you mind if I interview you guys?”
    “Do you want us to take off our clothes now?”
    “Ah, what? (then trying to play along with what I think is some kind of weird Russian sense of humor) No, we’re not making that kind of show.”
    “We not like media.”
    “Um, it’s just a few questions. Just wanna know why you guys like Shaolin.”
    “No.”
    “I see. Is it okay if we film you training?”
    “No.”

    Perhaps not. Now I’ve met some disagreeable people in my time but these girls were positively misanthropic. I can handle people not wanting to be interviewed but let’s at least keep things cordial. So, what were we left with? Four adults, three kids. That would never be enough to make our program. Time for a change of plan.

    Fortunately, the Tagou students were competing in Sanda bouts as well as doing form demonstrations outside. We got some good footage of them and then we got our foreign students to compete as well. The four adults said some good stuff, the kids were entertaining and the trainers chipped in with their Shaolin experience. Then we relocated to the Shaolin Temple and accosted tourists determined to glean interesting Shaolin anecdotes from them. This was a mixed bag, most people had just arrived and had nothing much to say about Shaolin kungfu. Then we got a couple shots of this pagoda forest called Talin. This was really cool, each pagoda is basically a tomb stone for a renowned Shaolin monk. They date back at least a thousand years.

    What else could we film? Not much. So we bundled up our tapes and returned to Beijing all the while hoping that our 200 minutes of footage would be enough for a 25-minute program. Personally, I think if it’s not enough, we just throw in some Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon so our audience can see how it’s really done. Or maybe we can use footage from an old show. Or maybe I can show off my Shaolin moves by beating up a shop-window mannequin or one of those giant Hello Kitty dolls. Who knows? We’ll just have to wait and see.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  3. #18
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    Well it's too bad that they weren't there when we were. We would have demonstrated for them and interviewd without taking our clothes off. I sure would have liked to have met those Russion girls though.

  4. #19
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    This is an exerpt from a travel blog

    Almost put this on the Shaq thread....
    Sunday August 2, 2009
    Henan highlights

    IT was evening when our bus inched up the road to the Shaolin Temple nestled in the hills of Song Mountain and it appeared to be down time for these ascetic youngsters. But all around the large compound, busloads of tourists were still pouring in to these sacred grounds that have been put on the map by Jet Li. His series of Shaolin movies, starting with his hit debut in 1982, Shaolin Temple, has brought worldwide fame to the address (the guides will readily point out a foot imprint in one of the halls apparently left by the Chinese action star during filming).

    Three weeks ago, the temple received a huge boost when NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal came a-calling. The 37-year-old American, an avowed practitioner of Shaolin kung fu, hopes to study at the temple when he retires. If he does, he will join the tens of thousands of students (numbering 30,000 to 50,000 at any time) enrolled in various schools in the vicinity.

    Shaolin Temple, established in 495AD, is a historically significant institution of China. In 527, the Indian monk Bodhidharma arrived and spent the next nine years meditating in a cave and spreading Zen Buddhism. The temple also received royal recognition for having rescued the Tang Emperor Li Shimin, and another monarch in the later Song Dynasty. Indeed, the confluence of martial arts and Chan Buddhism is what gives Shaolin Temple its distinctive identity that has endured time, disaster (fires) and the repressive Cultural Revolution.

    Adjacent to the temple complex is the Forest of Pagodas, a “mausoleum” of 232 stupas – the largest of its kind in China – that houses the remains of eminent monks from different periods.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  5. #20
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    Not really a travel article...

    ...but here's some shaolin kung fu on TMZ! Like that has anything to do with anything. We've all seen this type of photo a bazillion times. But still, the comments are funny. Follow the link.

    Shaolin Monk Goes Head Over Heels
    Posted Aug 20th 2009 4:49PM by TMZ Staff

    This monk showed off his superior balance skills by practicing Shaolin Kung Fu
    in China this week.

    Somebody get him some maximum strength Excedrin stat!
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  6. #21
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    This one is all about the pics

    Follow the link. You won't be sorry.
    Miss Tourism Queen International 2009 Visits Shaolin Temple
    August 24th, 2009 by Key »

    Miss Tourism Queen International 2009 is held in Zhengzhou, Henan province in China from August 7th to August 30th. 110 beauties around the world traveled to China, where they compete as tourism ambassadresses for their respective countries. On August 23rd, 2009 Miss Tourism Queen International came to Shaolin Temple in Henan, beauties around the world praised the wonderful Shaolin martial art performance and the profound cultural heritage.

    Here's the contestant pics on the official site
    .
    Gene Ching
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  7. #22
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    Wow

    I haven't visited the forums in a very long time, and I am happy to have come across this thread. Very cool.
    "Siezing oppurtunities causes them to multiply" Sun Tze

  8. #23
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    After Miss Tourism Queen International...

    ...I can't think of a more pathetic follow up.

    Halter Meets With Chinese Commerce Officials
    posted 08/26/09 3:21 pm

    Beijing, China - With a population nearly eight times that of the state of Arkansas, the Chinese capital of Beijing alone offers “tremendous economic opportunities” for Arkansas businesses provided they can access the market, Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter said Wednesday.

    Halter is in China this week as part of economic development mission arranged by the National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA). He has spent Sunday through Wednesday in Beijing, a city of an estimated 20 million residents.

    On Thursday, the NLGA contingent will fly to Zhengzhou, a city of more than 7 million south of the Yellow River in east-Central China. (Arkansas’ population is an estimated 2.86 million.)

    “Today was a very busy day in Beijing,” Halter said, speaking from a hotel room overlooking just a portion of the Beijing skyline. “We started with a meeting at the Ministry of Commerce, which is the equivalent of our federal Department of Commerce. We met with the assistant minister (Wang Chao), who is responsible for the U.S.-China economic relationship.

    “I expressed my concerns about the current ban on poultry produced in Arkansas in China as well as our desire to export rice to China, the world’s largest consumer of rice.”

    The Lieutenant Governor raised this same concern Tuesday, while speaking with the Chinese vice minister of foreign affairs.

    Halter and six other lieutenant governors also visited Beijing’s Dashanzi Art District, a bustling artist community situated among decommissioned military factory buildings. Later, they toured Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.

    On Thursday, the lieutenant governors are schedule to visit the Industrial Zone of Zhengzhou, formerly a regional agricultural center whose industrial base has expanded considerably over the past 60 years. Also planned is a visit to the Shaolin Temple, a Buddhist monastery best known to the Western world for its association with Chinese martial arts, particularly Shaolin Kung Fu.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  9. #24
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    Still in the wake of Miss Tourism Queen International

    Living like a monk means eating coleslaw in silence before sunrise?
    Manalapan High School students make 'indescribable' journey to China
    By Joshua Riley • FREEHOLD BUREAU • August 31, 2009

    MANALAPAN — A Manalapan High School teacher had two days before spring break to find four student adventurers to take along on a trip to China.
    Advertisement

    "Hi. You don't know me, and I don't know you, but can I take your kid to China?" was her rendition of the calls she made to parents.

    And on Aug. 1, teacher Heather Sullivan and students Cory Bolotsky, Kim Gennaro, Caitlin Silk and Drew Regino, all rising seniors, were whisked away to Beijing.

    Following their recent return, the students said they had still had difficulty describing the journey that took them to the Olympic Bird's Nest Stadium and Water Cube, hiking along the Great Wall and visiting the home of the warrior monks, the Shaolin Temple.

    But Bolotsky gave it his best shot.

    "(It was) an indescribable, unique, once-in-a-lifetime adventure, and every day was filled with infinite cultural paradigm shifts and remarkable experiences," he said.

    The experiences were as daring as eating duck brains and as culturally eye-opening as visiting a Chinese home where design and customs are tied to feng shui beliefs.

    Being chosen for the trip was a tremendous stroke of luck. Ten teachers choosing four students each were selected from schools across the country to pilot Discovery Student Adventures, run by the Discovery Communications' education division. The Discovery Channel is one of its products.

    The trips sent students and teachers to Australia, South Africa and China free of charge to help promote the paid trips in the future.

    Every minute of every day they spent in China was packed with learning experiences, the students said.

    They visited the Urban Planning Center that contains models of cityscapes. Each building has symbolic meaning, they learned. One building is shaped like a dragon, and another, a microchip.

    While in Beijing, they learned to cook Chinese dishes with a chef and visited the Forbidden City and campus of last summer's Olympic games. They camped out next to the Great Wall and hiked it for six hours the next day.

    Before returning home, the group spent four days in the Shaolin Temple kung fu school and spent a day living like a monk, waking up before sunrise to eat a silent, coleslaw-like breakfast.

    Along the way, adventurers blogged and used Twitter to log their experiences. The writings are still available on http://dsachina.blogspot.com, and more information about the pilot trips and organization is available at http://discoverystudentadventures.com.
    I didn't chase down the blogs.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  10. #25
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    More on the Manalapan students

    Still haven't got to those blogs
    Adventures in China remain with students
    BY DEVIN ALESSIO Staff Writer
    Four Manalapan High School students and science teacher Heather Sullivan have returned from a 15-day trip to China, where they studied kung fu at a martial arts school, rode in rickshaws, and scaled the Great Wall of China.

    CORY KEY Science teacher Heather Sullivan (l) was joined on a trip to China by Manalapan High School students (l-r) Cory Bolotsky, Caitlyn Silk, Kim Gennaro and Drew Regino.

    The all-expense paid trip was organized by Discovery Student Adventures, the Discovery Channel's new division that coordinates international travel for students in grades 5-12.

    Sullivan and two other teachers were chosen from more than 170 educator applicants nationwide to pilot the program's excursion to China. Each teacher was asked to select four students to experience the adventure as well.

    Sullivan chose students Cory Bolotsky, 17, Kim Gennaro, 17, Caitlyn Silk, 17, and Drew Regino, 16. The other two teachers and eight students were from Wisconsin and California.

    The Manalapan students are all starting their senior year of high school this week.

    Sullivan applied for the trip because of her involvement in the Discovery Educator Network, which connects teachers who are passionate about integrating technology into the classroom to other educators.

    "I never believed I would get picked to go abroad," Sullivan said. "I didn't tell anyone else that I applied for the trip either. Once I found out we were picked in March, things started happening very quickly. I had to choose which students I wanted to bring, ask their parents' permission, and secure our passports and visas."

    Sullivan said Bolotsky, Gennaro, Silk and Regino were selected because they are good ambassadors for Manalapan and for America. They are confident, well-spoken, and able to absorb and communicate their cultural experiences with others, she said.

    As part of the pilot program, the students were required to use the Internet to write daily about their activities, using blogs and Twitter, a microblogging service.

    Silk blogged, " … We made dumplings in different shapes … I can't wait to show everyone my cooking skills when I get home!"

    The students' blogs and tweets can still be read at http://dsachina.blogspot.com.

    Bolotsky concurred, saying, "Chinese food in China is nothing like Chinese food in America."

    The students said their most memorable moments including sampling duck brain and scorpion.

    "Scorpion tastes like a crunchy french fry," Regino reminisced.

    Other culturally enlightening experiences included visiting the "Bird's Nest," which was the Olympic Stadium that played host to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing; experiencing a day in the life of a Shaolin monk; and visiting the home of a Chinese family to learn about culture and calligraphy.

    The students also learned how to sing the song "Shaolin, Shaolin" in Chinese and presented it to their kung fu instructors and warrior monks.

    The guests from the United States were surprised as to how different the Chinese education system is from the American education system. After visiting a school, the Americans learned that most Chinese students attend boarding school year-round and only return home for a spring holiday.

    "I feel really grateful for my education … that I get such a good education," Silk said.

    Bags have been unpacked and passports have been put away, but the students said their experiences in the Far East will stay with them forever.

    Their teacher, Sullivan, said, "I have much more legitimacy when teaching 21st century skills in my classes. Anywhere you can go outside of your own comfort zone helps you. When you understand more, you can share better."

    Gennaro agreed with Sullivan, saying, "I appreciate everything I have more now. I'm much more culturally aware."

    The students want to share their enthusiasm about their trip and Chinese culture with others. They encourage any school or group that is interested in hearing about their trip to contact Sullivan at hsullivan@frhsd.com to schedule a presentation.

    Sullivan said, "We want people to know that if you keep connections with others who are excited about the same things you are, you can go far."
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  11. #26
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    So this isnt a travel article, more of a petition for advice/tips, etc. But I figured as this involves traveling to Shaolin, this is a good place for it.

    I've confirmed ill be traveling throughout Northern China next year, and of course I have to visit Shaolin. Giving myself a year to beef up my rough basic language skills is about all I have planned other than Beijing, Shanghai and Shaolin/Songshan Mountains.

    This will be my first trip, so any tips or must see/do advice would be great as I set about to have a rough frame work of a plan for travel.

    Such as, in someones opinion/experience, is there and if so where is the best city to visit the Great Wall? Other famous must see tourist spots, as well as some must see nonfamous nontourist spots.

    thanks!
    For whoso comes amongst many shall one day find that no one man is by so far the mightiest of all.

  12. #27
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    An interesting read on several levels...

    Abbot Shi Yan Zhang?
    Shaolin disciple dreams up a kung fu school
    Central News Agency
    2009-10-07 10:37 AM
    By Flor Wang CNA staff writer

    When Chang Ching-kuo dropped out of school and occasionally ran away from home at the age of nine, his future looked bleak.

    Then, inspired by the films of Ashton Chen, a child kung fu star of the early 1990s, the Keelung native successfully begged his father to send him to the Songshan Shaolin Temple Film and TV Kungfu Academy in China's Henan province.

    The move saved Chang's life, and now he harbors the dream of using martial arts training to help troubled youths, just as the Shaolin academy helped him.

    "My biggest dream is to set up a nine-year martial arts school to help kids and teenagers who have lost their way to lead normal lives and build up their moral integrity," Chang says.

    The idea crosses the 27-year-old's mind every time he sees children or teenage wasting their times in the streets or in Internet cafes.

    "Seeing this always makes me feel that a kung fu school would be good for helping those kids get back on the right life path, " he says.

    "Learning martial arts such as kung fu is really tiring and requires single-mindedness, but my personal experience is that kids like to spend some time studying after completing their kung fu practice for the day." Chang speaks from experience. His parents were divorced when he was only two years old, leaving his grandmother to look after him.

    But she was too old to properly care for him, and he started running away from home and regularly missing classes after entering elementary school.

    "Every member of my family thought I was hopeless, " he recalls ruefully.

    In 1990, he entered the Songshan Shaolin Temple Film and TV Kungfu Academy -- an umbrella facility authorized by the Chinese government to teach children basic martial arts. There, Chang studied kung fu for five years.

    "Those days were beset with difficulties, and it took me several years to adapt to the extremely restrictive and disciplined environment," he recalls.

    "Apart from getting only bland meals, we had to get up at 4: 50 a.m. every day and start our training routine by running around the base of two nearby mountains. With senior students chasing us with whips, we had to run faster than rabbits," Chang says.

    The students were also subjected to physical discipline by older students when their kung fu movements did not measure up.

    "Our thighs often bore bruises, " Chang remembers, and resting in the dormitory often provided little respite from the daily hardships.

    "During the night, more than 20 people would sleep on a two-level bed in a dormitory of about 100 square meters, " Chang says. "During the summer, we had to endure temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius without air conditioners or fans, while in the winter, we faced temperatures below zero while meditating." After five years of basic training at the academy, it was recommended that Chang attend the Songshan Shaolin Temple Monks Training Base Mission in 1994 and he became the first disciple from Taiwan of the Shaolin Temple at a time when relations across the Taiwan Strait were still sensitive.

    He then was allowed to take part in a warrior monk group and performed around China in the following years until he returned to Taiwan in 2000 to serve his mandatory military service.

    That, however, marked the start of a fresh setback in his private life. With just an elementary school education, he had trouble finding a well-paid job in Taiwan despite his martial arts mastery and ended up working in odd jobs as a construction worker, private security guard and waiter.

    Not until he appeared on a local TV show in 2007 did he achieve some level of recognition, but even then, he was criticized for "fishing for fame." In the face of the mounting criticism, Hua Lin, secretary-general of the Taiwan Zen Buddhist Association, came to Chang's defense, praising his martial arts skills as a genuine accomplishment.

    "Chang's hard qigong, such as punching, flying kicks, swordplay, iron head and weapon wielding, is really amazing and is evidence that Chang has mastered the techniques of the so-called 18 types of Chinese martial arts," Hua said.

    The association now frequently invites Chang to teach Shaolin martial arts in different regions of the country. He also returns to the Songshan Shaolin Temple every year or two to perfect his techniques.

    Speaking of the years he spent mastering kung fu in China, Chang attributes everything to destiny.

    "I do not regret all the years I spent learning kung fu in China, even if I missed the chance to go to college in Taiwan, because it taught me to be a righteous man." Passionate about contributing to society, Chang regularly shows his concern for the underprivileged, visiting the Taichung Drug Abuse Treatment Center in central Taiwan to help addicts with their rehabilitation.

    He also stages qigong performances for charity at nursery schools and institutions for the mentally challenged.

    Establishing a kung fu school, though, remains Chang's major pursuit.

    "Learning kung fu can help kids achieve a healthy state, both mentally and physically," he says. "As Abbot Shi Yan Zhang told me, a kung fu practitioner is nothing without a strong sense of morals. The main tenet of kung fu is to cultivate one's moral character." Hearing that the Miaoli County government is planning to establish a kung fu school next year, Chang wonders when his chance will come, acknowledging that his goal remains no more than a distant dream hindered by stiff challenges.

    "Lacking support from the government or the private sector, it is a very difficult task," he laments.

    Chang says, however, that he will not be deterred from his goal because he really wants to do something for troubled and temperamental children.

    "My experience in Shaolin Temple made me aware that adults must find an appropriate method to educate this kind of hyperactive child, who can easily become a good for nothing by missing school or running away from home."
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  13. #28
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    a CCTV human-interest piece

    Love the 'foreign student' pic.
    Kungfu and animal attraction
    2009-10-12 14:56 BJT

    Master Zhang Shengli believes kungfu frees the body and mind - and could eventually bring world peace.

    To find the true heart of traditional kungfu, you need only look as far as the secluded hutongs behind the ever-crowded Wangfujing shopping area.

    Here can be found a dozen teachers and students all displaying varying techniques and styles: from the energetic art of Shaolin kungfu to the explosive attacking xingyiquan, which imitates the various movement of animals.

    Movements of the monkey, snake, hawk, dragon, **** and bear can be copied and have a powerful impact on your opponent. There is also the peaceful taijiquan, which is centered on breathing contol and internal strength.

    "Martial arts are not just for the Chinese people to enjoy, but everyone in the world," said master Zhang, who started learning kungfu more than 30 years ago. He has studied at the famous Shaolin Temple in Songshan Mountain and performed for the United Nations.

    In 2002, he founded the Beijing Milun School of Traditional Kungfu and, today, it has more than 30 students and five teachers. "Here, everyone is welcome," said Sabrina, a student of Zhang's since 1997. "It is very difficult to find a good martial arts teacher if you are a foreigner and do not speak Chinese. It is very limited for outsiders, so the focus here has been to give more foreign students the opportunity to learn traditional kungfu."

    Students from beginner to advanced levels can start at any time.

    "Students come and go, especially if they are traveling a lot between Beijing and their home countries, but we want them to feel they learn something here that they would not learn anywhere else," he said.

    Kungfu does not just offer strength, concentration and coordination, it also holds the key to many facets of Chinese culture and history, and the costumes and ancient weaponry that decorate the school help to give students a more rounded education of martial arts, he said.

    Zhang wants his top students to take the skills and messages of kungfu around the globe, and believes teaching is not just a job, but his duty. Kungfu, after all, could bring world peace.

    "Martial arts is not just about kicking and punching, or being big and strong. It is about changing your thought process," said Zhang. "What's the point of practicing martial arts if your mind is not right?

    "Martial makes you become a more beautiful person from the inside and makes bad energy disappear."
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  14. #29
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    Nice photo essay

    This is part of Global News Day for Children. Click for 10 pics.
    Kung Fu child and his Shaolin dream
    www.chinaview.cn 2009-11-13 14:51:47

    He Minxian, a 9-year-old kid, bellows to lend impetus and strength during a team training class in the Shaolin Tagou Kung Fu (Martial Art) Institute at the foot of Mountain Song in Dengfeng, a city of central China's Henan Province, Oct. 12, 2009.
    Little He Minxian, a common student of this private-running school, renowned as the "No.1 Shaolin Kung Fu Institute of China", was sent here 5 years ago due to his awkward temper by his parents, who run clothing business in Shanghai. After being separated with his parents, He Minxian devoted his whole childhood to the exercise room of this school.
    It was a long and harsh period of time for little He Minxian. Some 5 years passed, this unbending and lovely boy, by means of his great interest, strong comprehension and huge willpower, has become a skilled "kid of Shaolin", performing an outstanding martial art. He ever took part in the performance of some crucial activities like the opening ceremony for the 2008 Paralympics and the celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China last October.In the Shaolin Tagou Kung Fu Institute, around 24,000 students like He Minxian learn Chinese Kung Fu. The school opened courses including Kung Fu patterns, free boxing, boxing, taekwondo, and Kung Fu performance. Besides, an integrated education system has been formed at the institute, containing full-time nursery, primary school, secondary school and college. A large number of children presented themselves an enriched and happy childhood. (Xinhua/Wang Song)
    Gene Ching
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  15. #30
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    Nice CCTV article

    Shi Yonghan celebrates his 80th!
    Former martial monk recalls his Kungfu days at Shaolin Temple
    2010-01-11 15:37 BJT

    He left home at 6 years old to become a monk and returned to a secular life at the age of 20. Having participated in a lot of national competitions and performances and received a number of awards, he is famous as "one of 18 Shaolin boxers". He set up the first martial arts school in Dengfeng, and has cultivated batches of martial arts and professional talents. He has gone abroad many times and helped promote the Shaolin martial arts in the world. He is Shi Yonghan, one of thirty third-generation monks who had resumed a secular life. On January 7, he shared stories of his early life as a monk with our reporter and revealed his wish to reunite with the monks who underwent the training with him at his 80th birthday celebration.

    Many years of habit

    Up at dawn to exercise and recite scripture

    Shi Yonghan’s secular name is Mao Wenhua, and is also known as Mao Yonghan. He was born on January 26, 1930 and he lives in Xindian Village, Zhongyue Sub-district in Dengfeng. On January 7, our reporters got a glance of Shi at the Ganlutai in the west of the Shaolin Temple doing exercises, which included large flood boxing, small flood boxing, cannon boxing, long and broad sword, long spear, and tree stump training (using breathing techniques to hit the stump with every part of the body).

    He squatted and stretched his fists horizontally while holding his breath in his stomach before suddenly pushing himself onto a big poplar, which shook drastically, with branches rustling and leaves falling. Shi remained calm and was at peace before he concluded with an easy countenance, and nothing revealed that he was 80.

    Shi told our reporter that the secret of his health was that he still follows the habits he developed when he was at the Shaolin Temple. He would get up at 4:00 am, run a lap around the village road, and then go into the forest of poplars to do basic exercises.

    After the exercises, our reporter followed him to his house. There was a hall for worshipping the Buddha on the second floor, and just like the monks in the temple, he burned incenses, read scripture and tapped the wooden fish lightly. After all was done, he shared with the reporter the memories deeply-embedded in his heart.

    Left home to become a monk

    He was “sold” to the Temple because of family poverty

    According to Shi, he was the third eldest of 6 children in his very poor family. His parents called him Wenhua (Chinese for "culture"). In 1936, when he was 6 years old, a great drought hit Dengfeng between summer and autumn, leaving no harvest. His family decided to flee from the famine to Shaanxi and with their fates uncertain, his parents, baring the pain, reluctantly sold him to Xuantian Temple which was affiliated with the Shaolin Temple to be a monk. Holding him in her arms, his mother cried, "Wenhua, you must be strong. If we cannot return home in the future, you must learn wisdom and martial arts." His family received some corn from the temple as traveling expense in exchange and headed for Shaanxi.

    He was picked among many to become an elite martial monk

    After converting to a monk, his name was changed to Shi Yonghan. He became a disciple of Master Shi Hangchao in the Xuntian Temple. Later due to his hard work and martial arts talent, he was taken in by Master Shen Gen as a disciple, before becoming the last disciple of Master Ke Zhu.

    "At that time, there were 109 monks in Shaolin Temple altogether. Although most monks took training exercises, there were only 18 temple protection monks, which were referred to as Eighteen Disciples of the Buddha. During that time, the warrior monks were called temple protection monks, and not all monks in the Shaolin Temple could become warrior monks." In recollection, Shi said that, whether a monk would be chosen as a warrior monk depended on the identification of his master and his talent in martial arts. It was a very strict process, almost one out of a hundred.

    Once a monk became a warrior monk, his top priority was to train and his second priority was studying scripture.

    Shi at 6 years-old, bore in mind his mother's instructions. Every day he would get up at 3:00 am, run to the mountain behind the Shaolin Temple and back, before doing body exercises in a quiet place. According to Shi, this was called"meng gong," meaning exercising Kung fu in solitude. Almost everybody was engaged in this kind of exercises then.

    The time came for group training, and his peers gathered in Ganlutai to the west of the Shaolin Temple to do exercises.

    Shi stayed at the Shaolin Temple for 14 years, and became a master of all kinds of martial arts, such as light skills, mastery skills, Shaolin boxing and apparatus. He was referred to as "fleet feet," and his skills with a double-bladed sword were an especially special skill in Shaolin martial arts. When he was training with double blades, he was so proficient that not even water would penetrate through the blades.

    Shi was also good at bell lifting. In refection, the bell in the Shaolin Temple was 200 kilograms in weight. In the beginning, he could only lift the bell slightly from the earth, but he gradually lifted it higher and higher, and in the end, he could lift it to the chest. He lifted the bell 50 times daily. He had immense arm power, and was claimed as an iron-armed monk.

    After he had made some achievement, just as other warrior monks, he advanced to the Temple of One Thousand Buddha to do set pattern at first. "one of the swales made on the earth of the temple was made by me." According to him, with the skill enhanced everyday, he start to learn stump beating and lifting in order to make himself an iron body.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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