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Topic Five: Shaolin gong fu or college?

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  • Topic Five: Shaolin gong fu or college?

    Copied from the Discussion Archive. Please see Discussion Archive/Shaolin Topics/Topic Five for complete discussion.

    I actually get quite a few emails like the one that follows, but since this is one of the better written ones, I've decided to use this. I think that it's a topic that really needs some extensive discussion, as it pulls together a lot of the reality and the perception that makes up the Shaolin temple, and life, there at.

    My name is xxxxx, I'm living in Beijing, China. Martial arts have always been my passion, and lately I've been kind of confused. Well I arrived to Beijing just a couple of weeks ago. If you don't mind I would just like to ask you a couple of questions, well are there any Chinese styles, that could stand a chance in a No Holds Barred event?? Is there a Chinese style that resembles Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The closest to it that I know about is Shuai Jiao, but it does not have any ground fighting background.

    Well, this next question might be really annoying for you, so I apologize in advance. Yes, like many other people I also fantasize about one day being able to live and train in the Shaolin Temple, but is this really possible? Would the Shaolin Temple monks accept a foreigner to be part of them. And do the Shaolin monks also train in ground fighting skills (like Jiu Jitsu, submission fighting).

    Well, what I'm about to tell you is kind of personal, so I would really appreciate if you could give me some personal advice. .........My passion has always been martial arts, not only as physical training but as a way of living, that is the main reason why I'm here in China. My father wouldn't give me his full support when I told him that Martial Arts is what I really wanted to do, so he told me that taking martial arts as a way of living was not going to give me an economically stable life, that is why I'm going to study Psychology after I learn Chinese. I told my father that the reason why I wanted to come to China is because, the type of Psychology I wanted to study is only taught here in China. I will study psychology don't get me wrong, but that is not really why I wanted to come here. I wanted to come here because I thought that I could train in martial arts probably every afternoon, after class. But i get extremely anxious whenever I hear, see or get in touch with anything that has to do with martial arts, for example the Shaolin temple, Martial Art schools here in China where little kids live and train almost all day (It's the kind of life I wish I had). This stresses me a lot, Is like having 2 paths, one is to do what I'm expected to do, choose a career at university, graduate get a job and live a life, but it does not make me happy, my dream has always been not to train martial arts but to live them. the other path would be to go for my passion and dedicate all my time and heart to martial arts, but the possibility of failure (as of my passion) and economical failure as well, scares me a lot. I don't really have anyone who could understand about this kind of thing. And well my family also fears about my future economical well being that is why I get no support from them when it comes to my dream, Martial Arts.

    Well, thanks for taking the time to read this, and sorry for the bother.

    A very common question, one that I get in one form or another on almost a daily basis. And a most important one.
    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
    I'm in a similiar situation myself. But as the chinesee proverb goes, A joureny of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Or as said in the scouts, you eat an elephant one step at a time.

    Why not go to college, and study martial arts though? Why not study for an occupation where they can use that would enhance martial arts skills? Many martial arts are based off farming tools.

    For example, working at like a Wal-Mart, they are open 24/7. They have a large staff, and they is reasonable security there. Instead of sitting around getting fat, you can work on holidays. How about a massage therapist? Landscaper? A nutrienist? Working there for example, would not be the same thing. For example, I work at a different store, and my boss takes a month off. Image what you could do with that?

    For example, pulling weeds, that strengthes the hand muscles does it not? Mowing the lawn, you practice pushing the mower. Washing dishes, etc. I have heard it said, Before enlightenment gather food, get water, after enlightenment gather food, bring water.

    Also, what skills do you have now that you could use in the martial arts? Why not start today?

    My advice is find a good teacher. Someone who is willing to work with you. Talk to his/her students? Do you like what you see? The facility doesn't have to be the nicest looking but is it well maintained? Are you greeted when you come in the door. Are there pictures of the instructors and other martial artists. How much information are you given? Are you pushed up to signing right away.

    Once you have done that, study with him, and wait awhile. Maybe go to seminars or some tournaments, and talk to people and watch.


    • #3
      Another interchange I've had with a different individual, though, same concept. Some interesting points were brought up in this one however.

      my name is xxxx xxxxx. i am a 24 year old male who lives in xxxxx,xxxxxx. the reason i am sending you this email is because i found your website about the shaolin and read through a few of your pages and thought i should share my story and maybe ask for some advice. (sorry for the long story)

      when i was at the age of attending middle school (i forgot exactly what age) i saw a movie about bruce lee called "dragon: the bruce lee story". i instantly fell in love (not in a gay way). i watched the movie about two more times right after i finished watching it the first time. so slowly i started growing an interest in asian culture, more specifically chinese culture. of course naturally an interest of martial arts started to grow in me. i have never taken any martial arts training, other than watching and imitating the power rangers. i kind of did some research on martial arts, and eventually found out about a group of people called shaolin in china who studied really difficult martial arts. but that was just knowledge i had attained.

      i wasnt really expecting to learn anything, just curious. maybe about two years ago (2003) my interest in martial arts starting growing again. remembering my love for bruce lee, i started to do research on the martial arts that bruce lee had created ... jeet kune do. so i then started to look around for schools who taught jeet kune do. i found very small number of "schools" who taught it, but for some reason, in my mind i thought that if the teacher was not asian, then how well could i possibly learn. then i remembered about the shaolin.

      i did some research on them and then eventually made up my mind that shaolin martial arts was what i wanted to learn. but i found out the true shaolin teachings not only taught the martial arts but also includes learning buddhism. so i looked for schools that only taught the martial arts of it in america. i really didnt find anything near me, so i put my desire to learn shaolin aside for a little while.
      then my sister went to china to become an english teacher for about a year. now remember that i already have an interest in chinese culture, so when my sister returned to america and told me a bunch of little stories about her life in china, i decided that i wanted to definitely visit china, not only for the culture but also to see the shaolin at the temple in deng feng. so i did. but before i went to china i discovered a new "religion". throughout my life i have studied with three religions: jehovahs witnesses, catholicism, and then finally baptism. none of them rang "truth" to me. so for a while i was nothing, religion-wise. because of me interest in the shaolin, i heard of this "religion" called buddishm. so i did some research and i started to hear some rings of truth. i dont know much about buddishm other than basic things like letting go of desires and simplicity, but i want to pursue a buddhist belief. so because of that i definitely wanted to study with the shaolin. originally i planned to stay in china and do a tour for a month but i ended up staying for only a week. the reason was because on the 5th day my tour, my tour guide took me the shaolin temple in deng feng. i was excited as a school boy on the first day of school (sarcastically speaking of course, but i was very excited). my tour guide helped me "talk" to a monk who was there. i (well my tour guide) was asking about what would i have to do to study to become a shaolin monk. he told me that is was not possibly because only chinese people could be shaolin monks. i am not kidding when i say that my eyes starting to literally tear up. i felt like he basically told me my dreams are only dreams and not possible. i then asked him what if i was to change my citizenship from american to chinese. he said he did not know because i was the first person that he knows who has been willing to change my citizenship. he then told me that i needed to talk to the leader the shaolin. i believe his name is Shi Yong Xin. but the monk said he was not there but he had promised to get my contact information and ask the leader himself and then get back to me. so i gave him my information and continued with the tour at the temple. my tour guide noticed this man with about 3 policemen following him. so she asked the policeman who the man was, he said it was the leader.

      so we ran back to the original monk we were talking to and told him the leader was there and to see if we could talk to him. so he went off and about a minute or two later, he came back and said that the leader would see us. you do not know how hard my heart was beating.

      so we basically spoke with him asking if it were possible for me to study to become a shaolin monk. he was mostly worried about me being able to adjust to their way of living. i told him that i knew it would be a lot different but i believed i was willing to go through it to basically pursue my dreams. he asked how my chinese was, i said not good. he asked what i knew about buddhism, i said the very general things. he asked what i studied in school, i said i was going to study philosophy (thats if i decided to live in america). he then told me that what he would do is give me a "trial" period to see if i could really adjust to their way of living. he said some of monks knew little english, but it should be good enough for me to know what they want me to do. if i could adjust to their way of living, then i could train at the temple for as long as a wanted and after a certain period of time, if i prove myself worthy then they could teach me to become a shaolin monk. he even offered to start the day after, but i told him i had some responsibility in america to finish (mostly debt) before i could study with them. i told him that it may take me some time. he then said that i should return whenever i was ready and to prepare myself mentally for the change, oh and bring some money because the temple was full but they would help me find housing near the temple and that i would just need to help with chores around the temple since i will be studying for free. then he told me that he had to go attend some other business and left. there were two other people in the office we were in, not monks though. i was/am really worried about the whole time issue thing and the money thing. we spoke to one of the other guys in the office and told him that i would return within a year or two and that i thought i would need some kind of letter or something to remind them of me going over there. but the guy told me that the time was not an issue, just to some when i was ready and that i would not need anything from there when i do come back. he said just come to the temple. so we left and then i decided to go home as soon as i could so that i could start paying off my debts as soon as possible.

      the reason i am telling you this is because i wanted to get someone elses advice or opinion on this whole issue. do you have any suggestions or words of advice? anything would be greatly appreciated. i hope to hear from you soon.


      Why do you want to do this?


      well i could be like everyone else in america and strive for a job that i dont like, start a family, and raise them to do the same; or i could look for inner-peace. i dont know if becoming (or trying to become) a shaolin monk will help me to achieve happiness, but i have to try.


      Have you looked at some of the areas that I suggested? The Topics Section, the Dear Doc section in the Forums, etc, etc?? I've discussed this issue about, "what to do with one's life" before; I suggest you dig these things up, and read them.

      Also, I might add, as I've had this discussion before with many other people, that Shaolin is not what it may seem to be. Trust me on this,
      it's not a happy place to live.

      But, you need to make up your own mind. And the way to do that, is to educate yourself about what you want to make a decision about, like
      anything else in life. One way to learn about the temple, is to read the site. I've got a lot of stuff in there, but, I think if you read and read, you'll start to learn things about it that you didn't realize before.

      We'll talk more. Start learning.

      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)


      • #4
        Interesting on several levels, thanks for posting this one doc.
        practice wu de


        • #5
          Yea, if you read the whole thing, there's actually quite a few good "points" in there.
          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)


          • #6
            Interesting that SYX was actually willing to accept him, after he proved himself. But that he couldn't live there, that there wasn't room. Sounds fishy.

            I can't help, because of the controversy that surrounds SYX, wonder if he wouldn't end up taking this guy for his money in some way, or leave him living a wasted life, running errends for the temple and not learning much.

            However, that's wild that he put the kid up to being able to start the following day. Talk about a mind f**k !!! Leave all your life behind, live on the other side of the world and become a martial monk.

            Sounds like a movie or a novel. He was givin the option to live the life we all have dreams (like while your asleep, or day dreams) about but would never actually consider. Often because, lets be real, you would never be accepted into that type of life.

            But he was. Wow.... I think if Yongxin himself asked me that, i would forget my name, shit my pants, and and try to remember what made the whole room start spinning in the first place because I wouldn't know where I was or what the hell was happening. That's one hell of a decision !
            "Winners turn to losers, losers are forgotten..." - A Tribe Called Quest


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