Shaolin: Fists of fame

Updated: 2014-07-28 20:37

By Hou Liqiang and Qi Xin

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Shaolin: Fists of fame
Russian kung fu practitioner Maxim Kojevnikoff warms up in Shaolin Temple on July 3. PHOTOS BY HOU LIQIANG / CHINA DAILY 

There are also English classes in the temple for monks once a week.

"No matter where you go, there are translators. But for simple daily expression, the monks can manage on their own," said Shi Yongxin.

"Shaolin Temple has emphasized exchanges with different cultures in its 1,500 years and held on to the belief that only communication can result in development," he said.

Liu Yi, deputy dean of the physical culture institute at Hubei University, said people can learn Shaolin kung fu in many training schools, but the temple is the most attractive place for foreigners and visitors because of the culture it represents.

"In Shaolin Temple, kung fu is combined with Chan Buddhism. It includes many aspects of traditional Chinese culture, such as having a strong sense of justice and being ready to help the weak," Liu said.

Many foreigners go to Shaolin not to learn kung fu to fight or defend themselves, but to learn more about these aspects of traditional Chinese culture, Liu said.

Hong Hao, head of the department of physical education at Henan University, said that Shaolin kung fu's combination with Chan Buddhism, which emphasizes meditation, can also make it popular in the West.

Shaolin kung fu can help people in the West who suffer from the fast pace of a competitive society by taking it slow to contemplate life and the value of their existence, he said.

Practicing the martial art can also help foreigners understand Chinese culture better through body language and physical expressions, Hong said.

But the temple needs to continue improving itself, he said. Many people teach its kung fu but there is no uniform standard. That may hinder its popularization, he said.

There are also no specialized teachers of the martial art. The monks are good at kung fu but they might not know how to teach it systematically. The temple also needs to pay more attention to the theoretical study of kung fu, he said.

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