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Thread: Official Shaolin Temple Cultural Centers

  1. #1
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    Official Shaolin Temple Cultural Centers

    I dropped by the new Shaolin Temple USA school

    Well, I've come a long way since my bold proposal that Bei Shaolin should be considered the "only truly authentic Shaolin System". Though I still believe it to be a truly authentic Shaolin system that did, indeed, leave the temple in the 1700's, I would no longer say with any confidence that the styles being propagated at the current Shaolin Temple are wholly "unauthentic". Perhaps my visit to the new Shaolin Temple USA school on Geary St. in San Francisco has had something to do with my slight change of heart. After talking with Shi Yanran briefly and watching a class, I suppose I got sort of swept up the in whole experience. I've since gone there again just to watch an adult class and, I have to say, I was impressed with the monks and their over-all demeanor. After all, it was the whole mystique and image of Shaolin Temple and it's monks, that made me want to practice Shaolin kung fu in the first place.

    Originally, one of the reasons I felt a need to be critical of Shaolin Temple was because there's this theory going around (and it was told to me by the woman at the front desk) that Bak Siu Lum was created by Kuo Yu Chang out of numerous northern and southern temple-related styles. That this was being spread as the "official" history of the style seemed completely outrageous to me. It goes against all the written and orally transmitted history of Bak Siu Lum. To me, stating this is sort of like saying, "sorry, all of the previous masters of your style were just plain wrong, and you are wrong for believing in them."

    The fact that this is still believed is disturbing to me, but I've sort of been more willing to brush these feelings aside after seeing them teaching at their school. I must say, I greatly admired their skill, speed, and accuracy. They're also really nice guys. I've come to realize that if you meditate every day and live the sort of lifestyle they do, you're going to be a sensilble, nice person. It's almost hard for me to believe that people who practice getting kicked in the crotch and bludgeoned over the head with wooden poles and sledghammers could be such nice, even-tempered folks.

    Who knows, there might come a day when I'll find myself saying, "Oh, whatever, it's all Shaolin anyway. My style is just another branch of the tree." Though in order for that to happen, there would have to be some recognition of Kuo Yu Chang's lineage. His master Yim Chi Wen was a real flesh and blood master who taught NORTHERN Shaolin which, according to him, originated in the NORTH at the Honan Shaolin Monastary. Just because there isn't some 300 year old book that lays out our lineage master by master all the way to monk Chih Yuan doesn't mean there's no truth to what these masters claimed.

    That being said though, I still enjoy watching the monks training and performing. They're dedicated martial artists with lifetimes worth of training.
    Last edited by Siu Lum Fighter; 02-10-2009 at 02:29 PM.
    The three components of combat are 1) Speed, 2) Guts and 3) Techniques. All three components must go hand in hand. One component cannot survive without the others." (WJM - June 14, 1974)

  2. #2
    I'm really glad you took a look at what the monks are doing. It shows a real depth to your desire to understand. Most people are pretty impressed by the way classes are run even if they don't ever sign up to train.

  3. #3
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    Hey SLF,

    It always impresses me when someone actually does the research by going and seeing for himself and asking questions to someone who is in the know. Much more than the average person who relies on heresay from others. As I had posted before, when I had asked my previous Master about what he thought of the monks, he replied that they were just teaching wushu. I am so glad that I went to find out for myself and didn't just accept that explanation. Obviously, I am not with that master anymore. You should go one step beyond and try the class out. The Songshan Shaolin workouts are hard, but man are they a blast to do!

    Don't judge a book by its cover, I bust those bars and sticks over my head and body and I think I am a pretty nice guy.

  4. #4
    My story is the exact same as Sha0lin1's. I studied BSL from a teacher who was convinced that this this was the only lineage teaching real Shaolin and that the monks couldn't do anything but dance around and had no real power. When the monks showed up one year for Chinese new year celebration and did demonstrations, I saw the truth. This was not dancing around just being flashy. It was powerful, precise and beautiful to watch. They were actually doing the hard qigong that my previous Sifu never demonstrated. Within the month I was taking a couple of classes a week with the monks and before another month passed I was full time with them.

    I was never mad about what that Sifu said about the monks, just disappointed that this kind of negative view was passed on openly to the students and it obviously was unfounded.

    My Shifu tells us that we should always respect other traditions and schools and never talk badly of them. Any pride we feel shouldn't be used to brag to others, but to apply to our own practice to become even better. I think everyone, whether Songshan, BSL, Wing Chun, Southern, grappling, or MMA have waaaay too much to work on to worry about what other schools are saying or doing.

  5. #5
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    My thoughts on this is that a lot of the kung fu schools out there (by no means am I saying all) that claim to be teaching Shaolin are just teaching crap and a lot of students have been deceived into believing they are being taught real shaolin.
    I have seen these schools at various tournaments doing their forms and if they were truly teaching shaolin temple kung fu then there would be some resemblance to the Songshan style. In a lot of the cases the forms look nothing like ours, not even close. Then when you talk to these students about their lineage they give you a line that could be taken from any kung fu movie. I think that a lot of these so called Shaolin masters say this in an effort to legitimize their schools and discredit what is truly Shaolin so they can stay in business.

    I wish more people would do what SLF did and go and check it out for themselves instead of believing in and reciting the same old tired lines. I am glad there are more and more wuseng coming to the States and the world for that matter. They will set the record straight. There is a big difference when you find a true Master. I could see it right away the first time I went to observe my Master's class. As the years have gone by I consider myself privledged to have learned what I have learned and continue to learn and what has been transmitted to me by my Master.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by sha0lin1 View Post
    My thoughts on this is that a lot of the kung fu schools out there (by no means am I saying all) that claim to be teaching Shaolin are just teaching crap and a lot of students have been deceived into believing they are being taught real shaolin. I have seen these schools at various tournaments doing their forms and if they were truly teaching shaolin temple kung fu then there would be some resemblance to the Songshan style. In a lot of the cases the forms look nothing like ours, not even close. Then when you talk to these students about their lineage they give you a line that could be taken from any kung fu movie. I think that a lot of these so called Shaolin masters say this in an effort to legitimize their schools and discredit what is truly Shaolin so they can stay in business.

    I wish more people would do what SLF did and go and check it out for themselves instead of believing in and reciting the same old tired lines. I am glad there are more and more wuseng coming to the States and the world for that matter. They will set the record straight. There is a big difference when you find a true Master. I could see it right away the first time I went to observe my Master's class. As the years have gone by I consider myself privledged to have learned what I have learned and continue to learn and what has been transmitted to me by my Master.
    I think many kung fu schools used the name "shaolin" as a blanket name to their school/style. In reality, they might not even be associated or affiliated with the Shaolin Temple, have no lineage to a Shaolin system or might just be teaching some other style of martial arts at the school.

    I think when the monks started emerging in the USA and other countries there was a sense of "shock value" towards them. There was this crusade to find proof that the monks were fake, they were teaching just wushu, etc. Just a lot of mud slinging in general. If you really think about it New York/Jersey, Texas, California and Nevada are only 5 states that host songshan shaolin schools (forgive me if I missed a state). Compared to the rest of America, it's really not that many. The rest of the martial artists that live in areas where there is remotely no signs of songshan shaolin go by what is told to them or by the internet.

    It's nice to read a post like SLF's where he said he took time out to visit a school and the monks. I guess for some of us when we walked through the doors of the school for the first time we knew we were in the right place, for others they walked in and walked right out. BTW, Sha0lin1 do you have a youtube page? I am trying to network

  7. #7
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    Songshan,

    I do have a you tube account but not a page. It just contains a few playlists. I do have a myspace though. I PM'd you the link.
    Last edited by sha0lin1; 02-10-2009 at 06:39 AM.

  8. #8
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    got it...Thanks!!

  9. #9
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    Shaolin Temple USA is significant

    It's opening is in preparation for Shaolin Temple Day 2009. The Abbot is coming out for that.

    See my post on China Songshan Shaolin Temple Day - March 21st, 2009 - Union Square, San Francisco, CA. I missed the opening of his Fremont school last year. Yanran took over the roles in Long River, High Sky. My last printed article on him was The Temple and the Auto Shop in our 2009 January/February Shaolin Special.

    We'll be at China Songshan Shaolin Temple Day. Hope to see you there!
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  10. #10
    Once I moved into the Shaolin Temple kung fu, I never really thought back to whether the lineage of other schools might be questionable. Technically speaking, I'm sure it is all questionable since there's not any real written history.

    I enjoy going to the tournaments because there are some very interesting things going on in the martial world. Nowadays, I'm seeing a fair amount of wushu and modern CMA mixing it up at the tournaments and at the other side of the spectrum there are some obviously very ancient forms that are still in play. At the end of the day I'm so glad to have seen everyone there.

    I feel that at tournaments more and more people are getting used to seeing the Songshan students as well as seeing the wushu and non-'traditional' styles. The gap is closing. Everyone, regardless of where they come from, gets up and gives 100%. If we all smile and enjoy one another's performance it's all the better.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeHui702 View Post
    Once I moved into the Shaolin Temple kung fu, I never really thought back to whether the lineage of other schools might be questionable. Technically speaking, I'm sure it is all questionable since there's not any real written history.

    I enjoy going to the tournaments because there are some very interesting things going on in the martial world. Nowadays, I'm seeing a fair amount of wushu and modern CMA mixing it up at the tournaments and at the other side of the spectrum there are some obviously very ancient forms that are still in play. At the end of the day I'm so glad to have seen everyone there.

    I feel that at tournaments more and more people are getting used to seeing the Songshan students as well as seeing the wushu and non-'traditional' styles. The gap is closing. Everyone, regardless of where they come from, gets up and gives 100%. If we all smile and enjoy one another's performance it's all the better.
    Agreed. My last school had their own tournaments and we never competed at other CMA tournaments. So when I hit the tournament circuit after I changed schools it was a real eye opener to see other legitimate styles and their forms. It was definitely a very cool experience seeing what was out there.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Siu Lum Fighter View Post
    Originally, one of the reasons I felt a need to be critical of Shaolin Temple was because there's this theory going around (and it was told to me by the woman at the front desk) that Bak Siu Lum was created by Kuo Yu Chang out of numerous northern and southern temple-related styles. That this was being spread as the "official" history of the style seemed completely outrageous to me. It goes against all the written and orally transmitted history of Bak Siu Lum. To me, stating this is sort of like saying, "sorry, all of the previous masters of your style were just plain wrong, and you are wrong for believing in them."
    But you know that people say that because of the fact that Kuo did study some other styles beside just the Bei Shaolin 10 sets? It's just because of that, nothing conspiratorial. His life experience might have modified the sets somewhat, maybe even improving them?

    There's nothing that disputes that the original line of sets from Shaolin didn't come from out of the 1700s and passed from one to another person til you get to Ku Yu Chang.

    Between 1735 and 1780, it is known that many monks left Shaolin and went to Hebei and Shandong. The styles known to have passed on at this time out of Shaolin from Henan was Hong Quan, Luohan Quan, and Kanjia Quan. Kanjia was found to have been the prototypical material that became Bei Shaolin 10 sets, they share the same names and rough versions of the movements.

    The histories all fit together, so there is nothing that would dispute that Ku Yu Chang eventually received these material, by the time it got to him, I'm sure that the sets became more condensed and improved upon from the original 12 sets of Kanjia Quan.

  13. #13
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    Ah yes, but the the sets were supposedly kept secret throughout most of their history. From what I understand, a great deal of information was not copied down. The bare remnants of what was copied was likely destroyed. Hebei and Shandong were victims of so many wars and invasions. It's very possible that there is an incomplete history there.
    Last edited by Siu Lum Fighter; 03-24-2009 at 09:56 PM.
    The three components of combat are 1) Speed, 2) Guts and 3) Techniques. All three components must go hand in hand. One component cannot survive without the others." (WJM - June 14, 1974)

  14. #14
    you guys dont understand lineage and shaolin doesnt matter its the quality of the prodact

    i dont do shaolin kung fu and i dont do bei shaolin. but i respect gu ru zang more than any shaolin monk why? he is from jiangsu province funing area. i am also from jiangsu province funing area. im proud of him. he has more my respect
    Last edited by bawang; 02-23-2009 at 08:28 PM.

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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by bawang View Post
    you guys dont understand lineage and shaolin doesnt matter its the quality of the prodact

    i dont do shaolin kung fu and i dont do bei shaolin. but i respect gu yu zang more than any shaolin monk why? he is from jiangsu province funing area. i am also from jiangsu province funing area. im proud of him. he has more my respect

    shaolin monks would have my respect if they teach how to use the forms. but they only teach sanda
    The real Shaolin left the temple and went into the countryside.

    I just wrote a 120 pages about what styles happened when and where they went.
    I am almost done and then will get it published or will publish it myself.

    It is about 25 years of research I did, all finally laid out so that it all makes some sense.

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