Shaolin: Fists of fame

Updated: 2014-07-28 20:37

By Hou Liqiang and Qi Xin

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Shaolin: Fists of fame

Cale Klesko, a Canadian citizen, helps his friend warm up before a kung fu session in Shaolin Temple on July 3.

Since 2001, Damo, a center for martial arts studies established in Russia, has organized kung fu students to Shaolin Temple every year.

Rogov Viaches Lav, the chairman of the center, said at least 300 people studying in the center have visited Shaolin. The 46-year-old also said the center has trained more than 1,000 people in Shaolin kung fu.

Authorized by Shaolin, the center is now building a Shaolin-style complex in Russia.

"There will be Buddhism halls, training rooms, meditation rooms and a healthcare center," he said.

The facility will be built in line with Chinese feng shui geomancy concepts, he said.

The Russian said he developed an interest in kung fu after watching Chinese martial arts movies as a boy.

"Kung fu does not solely belong to China. It belongs to the world. It offers us opportunities to know each other. We should thank kung fu," he said.

The Damo center in Russia is one of the dozens of overseas centers authorized by Shaolin. According to Wang Yumin of the foreign affairs office of Shaolin Temple, there are now more than 40 such centers worldwide.

Shi Yongxin said there are hundreds or even thousands of Shaolin centers around the world, if "unauthorized ones set up by Shaolin's disciples and students are included".

Going abroad

More Shaolin monks are also going overseas to take part in cultural exchanges.

"About 400 Shaolin monks go abroad every year," Shi Yongxin said.

"In these cultural exchanges, we usually organize sessions to pray for global peace, cultural exchange forums, photo exhibitions and kaogong, a kung fu contest," he said.

Other activities include the annual California Songshan Shaolin Temple Day, which has been held for 10 years, and the Shaolin Culture Festival, which was launched in 2012 in Europe.

Shi Yanjia, a kung fu master at Shaolin Temple, began to take part in overseas activities in 2000 and has been to more than 10 countries.

"It's common to see some kung fu master going abroad for more than five times a year," the 32-year-old said.

Shi Yanjia is now able to carry on simple conversations with foreigners.

"I can manage simple exchanges in English," he said.