If you’re interested in seeing it, the National Geo channel will be airing a documentary on the Shaolin Temple one week from today. The show will present both the traditional aspects of the Temple as well as all of its commercial business endeavors of recent years.
Please mark your calendar for next Thursday, December 18th, at 10:00 p.m. Also, below my signature line is the National Geo channel’s long synopsis of the program.
Let’s help build up an audience. Please help by spreading the word to your students and colleagues through e-mails, etc.
“Martial Arts Success” Magazine
National Geographic’s “Secrets of the Kung Fu Temple”
Will Premier on Thursday, December 18, 2008
Written by Daniel Sargeant
The Shaolin Temple in rural China is the birthplace of kung fu and home to Zen Buddhism. Over centuries of turbulent history, the temple has been destroyed and reconstructed, with varying degrees of success. While it has survived challenges ranging from the Cultural Revolution to battling warlords, the temple has never lost sight of its true essence: mastering martial arts and honoring deep-rooted traditions. However, the hardest battle of all still remains: maintaining tradition in the chaotic rage of a 21st century world.
Premiering Thursday, December 18, 2008, at 10 p.m. ET/PT, National Geographic Channel’s (NGC) Secrets of the Kung Fu Temple takes viewers inside the 1,500 year-old monastery known for training the best warrior monks in the world. We meet novice monks, hand-picked from kung fu schools across China, and see what it takes for these boys to become master fighters. We also see how Shaolin is adapting to the 21st century and transitioning into a tourist attraction, complete with entrance fees, monk-blessed souvenirs and commercialized excursions. The generation gap between the older, traditional monks and their younger, Hollywood-dreaming students is wider than ever, or is it?
Head Abbot Shi Yong Xin may wear a saffron robe instead of a business suit, but with cell phone in hand, he is constantly working to take the Shaolin Temple to the next commercial level. Xin functions as a brand manager for the temple’s multimillion-dollar business ventures and is shrewdly expanding its reach with schools in the United States and Europe, while building global portfolios in property, media, tourism and health care investments. “I believe if our first teacher, master Bodhidharma, were alive today, he would have done the same to adapt to today’s society,” comments Xin.
Despite the modern commercialism, Shaolin kung fu masters work hard to maintain the ancient integrity and techniques of their art, which include more than 700 movements and a disciplined connection between mind, body and spirituality.
Kung fu literally means “hard work”. Over five hours a day, 365 days a year, the monks train with a very strict regimen. For these novice monks, Shaolin could be their chance to get out of the poverty and isolation of rural China. By traveling the world and displaying their kung fu mastery, the best at Shaolin may very well strike stardom.
Yan Xiu, an instructor and expert warrior, uses drill sergeant techniques to work his students, while his 60 year-old colleague Shi Yong Qian offers the students his deep knowledge of meditation and Zen. You’ll also meet Zhou Jinbo and Luo Zhenzhong, two student monks competing to be among the top kung fu fighters in the world. We get an inside look as these students tackle extraordinary acts of strength, grace and flexibility not commonly seen in the West, such as breaking metal bars with their skulls by standing on their heads for 30 minutes each day.
We also see how one man, a Belgian choreographer, attempts to mix traditional kung fu at Shaolin Temple with modern dance movements. He tries to transform these traditional kung fu warriors into world-class performers for the London stage. Will the head monk approve of this modernization of traditional kung fu?
Secrets of the Kung Fu Temple takes a glimpse at the incredible art of kung fu as it intersects with the disorienting tides of the 21st century. Check it out!