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Topic Two: Shi Yan Chang's story

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  • Topic Two: Shi Yan Chang's story

    Copied from Discussion Archive

    There's been a lot of debate going on about "real versus fake" monks, the true history of the Shaolin temple and its monks, especially during the time period after the Cultural Revolution, and the true, current state of what we would best call, the old Shaolin tradition, which, might also include the whole gong fu versus wu shu controversy. Well, I never said I was going to find the answers to all of these questions. But that doesn't mean we can't have an open and honest forum in which to discuss them. The following was submitted by Heng Xing, a disciple of Shi Yan Chang. It is by no means the entire story, but, it is a beginning. We have to start somewhere, so, here, is the first step, on our path towards the truth.

    I just finished sending you some comments from the Feedback page and moved on to your Discussion Forum and got caught up on all the heated discussions around "real" and "fake" monks. As you know, I am a disciple of Shi Yan Chang and I just recently learned about your website from Michel Fleury who responded to our website []. I just want to add that all things are just what is.

    Let's not overlook the whole flow or chain of events unfolding as it did because of unlimited various factors, the most of important of which are the players (Yan Ming, Shi Yan Chang, and others) and their intentions and the conditions that allows for the outcome. The questions of real or not real aside, good or bad and right or wrong set aside, if you want certain things to happen you take certain steps in order for it to occur. It is what Buddhism calls 'Cause and Effect' or 'Karma'. People will reap what they sow, it all comes around sooner or later.

    With the advent of Tourism to Shaolin, and wushu guans all promoted by the Chinese government polarized by economic need and martial arts popularity all over the world, it's natural that everyone wants to get into the act and capitalize. The issue here is the tradition and way of life of the Shaolin Monks (and all that it entails, i.e. the practice of Shaolin Kung-fu and Ch'an Buddhism) is endangered. Due to economic and political factors their old ways of life is being threatened. Hampered by political machinery and control and faced with undue influences from the outside world or any wanna-be's with enough Yuan, there's bound to be corruption or at the least a dilution of the integrity of the whole (not saying that it's good or bad, who can tell?). I believe this is what prompts the monks to seek refuge or asylum elsewhere to preserve their heritage. Hence, it's natural for them to come to the "New World" as the Pilgrims and others before them. America is still the land of opportunity for many poor and persecuted around the world, and China is no exception. All you have to do is look for a moment at the plight of Chinese illegal emigrants who had to pay $40,000 to $60,000 apiece and risk their life in unsafe stowaway passage for a chance to work as indentured slaves in the new world for 3-5 years in order to pay off their debt and start over for themselves and their families. So why not call yourself a Shaolin Monk with all the accoutrements and stature that the title affords one if it's a quicker road to freedom and riches? That is certainly tempting if you are not one. But if you are one, and here's the irony, modesty is the way.

    Which leads me back to my Master Shi Yan Chang. His is a story deserved to be told, unfortunately, his disciples are woefully inadequate in translating his Mandarin text. But we are able to pieces together some picture of his background and beginning to share.

    Shi Yan Chang was brought to Shaolin by his Master who was a Shaolin Monk but because of Mao's Cultural Revolution was forced to return to his hometown. There the Master was entreated by Shi Yan Chang's father to teach the boy kung-fu at the age of nine. Then in the 70's a handful of the monks were allowed back to Shaolin and Shi Yan Chang entered Shaolin at the age of thirteen. His touching memoirs tells of the days spent with these monks in the barest conditions and harshest of times taking care of them and having them imparting on him the tradition of Shaolin. Like all boys of his age, his initial interest was only learning kung-fu, but living with and caring for these old monks kindled in him a love for the monks and for the rich legacy of Ch'an Buddhism. The bond and loyalty that was forged is unshakably strong and lasting like the highest grade steel forged in burning blood. Yes, by right of passage, he has received the highest honor and legacy of Shaolin to carry on its tradition.

    He was sent as an emissary by his Grandmaster, the late Abbot Shi Xing Zheng in 1991, now succeeded by the newly appointed Abbot Shi Yong Xin, to the States to build a Shaolin Temple USA. It has proved to be difficult if not daunting for lack of support and resources. Who's interested in Buddhism when they can have kung-fu? But our Master's higher idea of spreading Ch'an Buddhism will not take second place to kung-fu. He wants his build his Temple to keep alive the torch that was handed to him. His most senior disciples, Heng Guan and Heng Long who have been studying privately one-on-one with Shifu for years, finally had persuaded him to teach to the public.

    Let me digress here a little to introduce Heng Guan. Heng Guan was the one who has known Yan Ming personally. In fact, he helped him started Yan Ming's first school in NYC until disillusioned by Yan Ming's behavior and character. Chinatown being a small town if you take the time to know it, Heng Guan soon heard rumor of a Shaolin Monk living in town. Whereupon he searched Shi Yan Chang out. At first, Master Shi Yan Chang did not want to teach Heng Guan, but after months of visits and pleading Shifu finally agreed to teach him kung-fu because of his persistence. But once he saw how serious Heng Guan was a real master-disciple relationship was developed. And the rest is history.

    Naturally being disciples we want to help our Master further his goals and if his goal is to have a temple, then a kung-fu school is just a mean. I would be very happy to provide further details and proof if necessary. I just don't want to overload our readers. We would also be very happy to accept any form of support, such as translation or information that would be pertinent in ways of obtaining a temple or possible joint ventures. Of course all providing that Shifu approves.

    Thanks for the Forum.

    Heng Xing

    I have a few corrections and update to my earlier release of Shi Yan Chang's story.

    Shi Yan Chang, a 34th Generation Monk, started learning gong-fu at the age of six (not nine) with Shi Yong Xiang, a 33rd Generation Monk who was forced to leave Shaolin during Mao's Cultural Revolution. When the Monks were allowed to return to Shaolin in the 70's, Shi Yan Chang was admitted into Shaolin and started his discipleship under the tutelage of Shi Yong Qian, also a 33rd Generation Monk in Ch'an Buddhism. He soon distinguished himself as a master of gong-fu and an authority on Ch'an Buddhism and was the first person to be ordained at Shaolin after the Cultural Revolution. Shi Yan Chang is a monk of distinction and integrity, he was chosen by the late Abbot Shi Xing Zheng to be the official emissary of Shaolin Temple in the United States. Shi Yan Chang arrived in America in 1991 and has been acting as Abbot for a Buddhist Temple in Chinatown. Around 1995, a disillusioned but determined Heng Guan searched out Shi Yan Chang and began a three year (not three months as previously stated )entreatisement to persuade Shi Yan Chang to take him on as a disciple. Shifu finally was taken in by his persistence and from there the rest is history. A small but loyal following of disciples are now making efforts to further Shifu's goal of building a Shaolin Temple USA to continue the rich legacy of Ch'an Buddhism and Shaolin Gong-Fu. Check out our website [] for more info.

    Amitofo - Heng Xing
    Experienced Community organizer. Yeah, let's choose him to run the free world. It will be historic. What could possibly go wrong...

    "You're just a jaded cynical mother****er...." Jeffpeg

    (more comments in my User Profile)

  • #2
    Interesting, the website is down. How would someone contact him in anyway?


    • #3
      They have a new website now, and the temple/school is in Queens.



      • #4
        Hmm interesting, do you pay for classes, or donate?


        • #5
          When was the last time you got anything for free?


          • #6
            Yeah, I know, no such thing as a free lunch.


            • #7
              Would it be possible do training similiar to that of the shaolin temple there?


              • #8
                Too bad, they couldn't get someone to make a movie there, and then when the movie is done they keep the new building.


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