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Thread: Topic Twelve: The trademark of the Shaolin name

  1. #1

    Topic Twelve: The trademark of the Shaolin name

    Copied from the Discussion Archive. For complete prior discussion, please go to Discussion Archive/Shaolin Topics/Topic Twelve. Some relevant posts from previous discussion have been copied here.

    Oh, this is a good one. Here's part of an email that I received about this very up and coming, and, most definitely, soon to be important issue.

    Dear Doc,

    Greetings. My name is xxx xxxx, and I am a Shanghai-based writer currently preparing an article concerning trademarks for the ‘The Witness’, the Hong Kong-based English-language news magazine for the Hong Kong legal community.

    China’s famous Shaolin monks have recently announced a more vigilant stance in the protection of their namesake. In their cause, they have established their own company to administer and protect their intangible assets, both locally and internationally. They have claimed that both Australian and German companies have agreed to ‘return’ their use of the trademark to the monks.

    For more on this, go to the section, Shaolin Topics Topic Twelve, in the site.

    My response to follow.

  2. #2

    Topic Twelve: Some relevant case law

    Well, I think that first, I have to make something perfectly clear. I am not a lawyer.

    I wake up every morning and I praise the various gods that I made the decision years ago not to go to law school.

    With that said, I must admit that I find this issue interesting, to say the least. Especially given Shi Yong Xin’s various stances, or, at least, my interpretation of Yong Xin’s stances, on the wuseng, otherwise known as the martial monks. Maybe a little background information is in order.

    The relevant history

    Historically and presently, there were and are two types of monks, with each type having different and varying degrees of the other type’s characteristics. All the monks were Buddhist, but their training in Buddhism varied, from bare minimal attention, to a life of complete devotion to Buddhist studies. On the other hand, the wuseng, or, the so-called martial monks, primarily devoted their studies to the training of gong fu. The martial monks also trained in Buddhist activities to varying degrees; the so-called Buddhist monks trained in gong fu. Over the past few years, one could find monks who devoted their lives entirely to the study of Buddhism, even though, as children, they were trained in gong fu. One could also find warrior monks, some who dealt heavily in Buddhism, some who demonstrated a moderate devotion, and others who really only cared about gong fu, though, claimed, to be “Buddhist monks”. It was quite the variety.

    Shaolin temple underwent some serious changes over the past few years, partly because of the ascension of the new abbot, Shi Yongxin. Most of these changes, though harsh at the time, have probably been for the better. But, as with all things, there has been some “growing pains”, in my opinion, with the transfer and assumption of power. Yongxin was well aware of the fact that the areas surrounding Shaolin temple had become, to some degree, a circus. Schools of varying quality were scattered throughout the previously beautiful Shaolin valley, stores had been erected, which sold all sorts of trinkets and other shit, right next to the temple walls. Restaurants, theaters, and all sorts of other kitsch tourist attractions enveloped the area. The end result, was a peaceful beautiful temple surrounded by not so peaceful and not definitely not so beautiful surroundings. It was deteriorating into quite the mess.

    Yongxin realized this, and, supposedly, because of pressure from one of China’s major Buddhist organization, he went through the motions to clean up the area. Part of this reason was China’s (and no doubt, Yongxin’s) desire to have the Shaolin temple achieve UNESCO World Heritage status. In order to return Shaolin to the once majestic Buddhist temple that it was, the village, schools, and tourist traps had to go. Also, there appeared to be a move to get the inhabitants of Shaolin more oriented towards a Buddhist life, as opposed to a martial one. The result, at the time, a short few years back, was the apparent alienation of some of the more experienced wuseng. Quite a few of the true martial monk masters felt a desire to leave, and go to other temples, for various reasons. The reasons for this might be varied and complex, and, no doubt they are only known to Yongxin, but, one might suggest one or more of three possibilities:

    One, that Yongxin, at that time the new abbot of Shaolin, wanted to move the orientation of the temple more towards a Buddhist lean, and less towards a martial arts one. Yongxin has martial arts training, but, even more important, is his rather extensive Buddhist training. His personal lean, years ago, in various people’s opinion, was more oriented towards Buddhist studies, and not martial arts. The wuseng might have felt a little “unwanted” when the new sheriff in town didn’t feel a need to have them around.

    Two, Yongxin might have gotten a little disgusted with the performance, actions, and concept of the wuseng. Some, as I’ve mentioned earlier, had great interest in Buddhist studies. Others, had no interest at all. The compliance with the various Buddhist monk “rules” varied to a great deal. Yongxin might simply have felt that, like the circus that had evolved outside the temple grounds, the wuseng had to go. Maybe they just were not going to fit in Yongxin’s new interpretation of Shaolin.

    Third, and more devious, was the possibility that Yongxin just wanted to “clean house”, that is, keep the monks that he knew were going to be loyal to him, and, that were going to support his new position of power, and “move out” the ones that he suspected of possible future disloyalty. Various actions and events over the past few years can be interpreted to support this possibility.

    It’s all educated speculation, based on interpretation and evaluation of various events over the years. The truth, is probably only known to a very few, and in my mind, he’s not going to talk about it.

    So, a few years ago, the martial monks scattered to some degree. The emphasis was on reiterating the Buddhist aspects of Shaolin. This change was noted by various people, including myself, and commentary on this appeared on web sites, my own included. The movement to remove martial arts from the birthplace of martial arts became a relatively hot topic, and, if you search on russbo.com, you will find, from about one or two years ago, rather extensive discussions on this topic. But, things change, as they always do.

    “Shaolin monk” tours started evolving, and various schools in the Shaolin valley started getting involved with various promoters to do tours, especially in Europe, as genuine “Shaolin monks”. Well, the whole concept of students traveling around the world, doing performances, and presenting themselves as “genuine Shaolin monks”, must have eventually been disconcerting to the powers that be at Shaolin. One reason might be the fact that this was an affront to the sacredness of being a Shaolin monk, the other, might be the fact that, from a capitalistic point of view, Shaolin gong fu is a more successful draw world wide than Shaolin Buddhism. No doubt, Yongxin figured this out over a period of time, and, eventually, one started to see “performances” of Shaolin warrior monks, in a poorly traveled eastern side alley of the temple grounds. Also, decisions were made to rebuild the decrepit wushu guan, in an attempt to lure foreign students, and no doubt, their money, to Shaolin. The whole idea of having foreign students travel thousands of miles to travel with former Shaolin temple monks, in their own schools, away from the financial coffers of the Shaolin temple, must have been slightly disconcerting. Besides, from an economic standpoint, it was a good idea to keep it all with the temple.

    Then came the period of village destruction, which started back in September 2000. The Henan government made the atrocious move to “relocate” the inhabitants of Shaolin village, including the schools, businesses, and homes. It was met with widespread outrage, and local demonstration. Images had been forwarded to me, and I posted them, along with a running commentary on events, as they happened, on a daily basis, on russbo.com. Eventually, the Shaolin community on the internet was buzzing with this outrage, and, eventually, the “relocation” ended. It was only to continue a year later, but, with a more gentle and fair approach. The movement of the village Shaolin schools to nearby Dengfeng and Zengzhou accomplished what the powers that be wanted: to clean out Shaolin village and attempt to return it to it’s previous historical condition. It also had the “unexpected” achievement of eliminating the local gong fu teaching competition.

    The world wide performances were another matter. Eventually, one tour, a performance group chosen by the temple itself, started traveling on tour. The other groups seem to have disappeared. The reason is unknown to me, but, knowing that each country has it’s own trademark laws, and methods of enforcing them, one can only imagine. Yongxin was starting to protect the Shaolin name worldwide, through a simple method of having his boys do the only “certified” performances. It was a good move on his part. The protection of the name, “Shaolin”, was going to be a different matter.

    Definition of trademark

    The US definition of “trademark” is as follows: “A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. (US government). Obviously, the name “Shaolin” implies the Shaolin temple, which in turn not only implies the “birthplace of Chan Buddhism”, but, also, and more well known, the “birthplace of martial arts”. It is a much revered name in the world of the martial arts, and, since, over the past ten years, there has been an increased exposure of Shaolin gong fu and the monks, there is a very popular resurgence in all things “Shaolin”. It is not uncommon for various martial arts schools and systems, to use the name “Shaolin”, for purposes of attempting to legitimize their art, or, increase its commercial value and appeal, all, without any regard to having any sort of connection with the Shaolin arts, as they are taught in the temple. One can liken the commercial usage and association of “Shaolin” with various other arts such as Judo, Kempo, or Shotokan, with the concept of claiming that your Hyundai has a Porsche derived suspension. Granted, all martial arts have, to some degree, roots in Shaolin. But it must be understood, that not all martial arts, are Shaolin gong fu, as they have been, or as they presently are, taught in the temple. There are major differences, and no doubt, Yongxin eventually figured this out. One would think….

    One would also think that Yongxin realized the commercial value of Shaolin gong fu. It seems to be a common movement by these wuseng, now, and historically, to travel and spread their doctrine. Over the centuries, the purpose seemed to have been mutual edification. Presently, another evil has interjected itself into that equation: money. Let’s face it, Shaolin is hot now, and Shaolin has a financial worth to it. What one finds interesting nowadays, is the fact that there are Shaolin monks who have left the temple over the years, to various countries, to spread their doctrine. What is also interesting, is, from various observations, that the temple proper seems to endorse the monks that Yongxin sent forth. The monks who have left prior to Yongxin’s ascension, or, those without any ties, seem to get minimal to no recognition; in fact, some of them are shown downright ignorance or indignation. The reasons behind this are unknown, but, the concept of control and commercialism come to mind.

    Trademark rights

    It is fully understandable why Yongxin wants to control the “Shaolin” name. And to do so, one usually needs a trademark. According to the US government (again, interpretations ans laws vary from country to country), one derives certain rights from having a registered trademark. They are: 1, constructive notice to the public of the registrant's claim of ownership of the mark; 2, a legal presumption of the registrant's ownership of the mark and the registrant's exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods and/or services listed in the registration; 3, the ability to bring an action concerning the mark in federal court; 4, the use of the U.S registration as a basis to obtain registration in foreign countries; and 5, the ability to file the U.S. registration with the U.S. Customs Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods. Having the “Shaolin” trademark, worldwide, would grant Yongxin and the temple certain privileges.

    Relevant court cases

    It’s going to be a tough sell though. There have been many court cases in the US, which discuss this concept of trademarks, more specifically, the trademark of generics. Two cases, one in a state Supreme court, another in a federal district court, demonstrate the difficulties associated with trademarking the “Shaolin” name.

    The first, WSM, Incorporated, Appellant, v. Dennis E. Hilton and Country Shindig Opry, Inc., Appellees, consisted of the following issue:

    WSM first made commercial use of the word "opry" in 1927 when the WSM Barn Dance Radio Program, which immediately followed a program of classical music, was referred to as the "Grand Ole Opry." "Grand Ole Opry" was registered as a trademark by WSM on July 11, 1950. WSM registered "Opryland USA" on February 6, 1973, a design of the same name on February 26, 1974, "Opryland Hotel" on February 17, 1981, and a design on April 14, 1981, "Opryland" for an amusement park on April 28, 1981, and "Opryland Talent Agency" on August 4, 1981.

    "Opry" was registered by WSM on January 12, 1982. Over the years WSM has operated the various enterprises, including the presentation of the Grand Ole Opry.

    Dennis Hilton commenced operating the Country Shindig on May 25, 1970, and used that name until the summer of 1973 when the business name was changed to Denny Hilton's Country Shindig Opry Show. As found by the district court, the name was changed after Hilton learned that potential customers believed that the show consisted wholly of dancing. On February 17, 1976, Hilton became the owner of a registered mark known as "Country Shindig."

    In each of the years 1979 through 1982, WSM demanded that Hilton cease his alleged infringement of the mark "Grand Ole Opry." This action was brought in the spring of 1982 making the following claims against Hilton and the Country Shindig Opry: (1) infringement of WSM's registered trademarks in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1114(1) (1963); (2) engaging in unfair competition in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1125 (1982) and Missouri common law; and (3) diluting the distinctiveness of WSM's trademarks in violation of § 417.061 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri.

    Following a two-day trial, the court entered its order and extensive findings of fact. n2 The court stated that the word "opry" is a dialectical variation of "opera," which has been in common use from the eighteenth century to the present, and that "opry" has been and is now used to describe a show consisting of country music, dancing, and comedy routines. The court found that the public is aware of the different ownership of the Grand Ole Opry and Denny Hilton's Country Shindig Opry Show and has exhibited no confusion in distinguishing them. WSM, Inc. v. Hilton, 545 F. Supp. 1212, 1214-16 (W.D. Mo. 1982).

    It basically boiled down to one issue, and that is, the ability to trademark the word “opry”. The courts decided that this word was a “generic” term, which the courts describe as “A generic term refers to a particular genus or class of which an individual article or service is but a member. The test for deciding whether a word has become a generic title of a product or service is one of buyer understanding, whether buyers understand by the word for whose use the parties are contending.” Basically, a generic term is one that has actual common usage. If a term is generically used, then it is assumed that it is common, and that it is used in association with many different, easily discernible, things. The US legal system considers whether a term is generic or not by using the following test: “The ultimate test of whether or not there is a confusing similarity between a designation and a trademark or trade name which it is alleged to infringe is the effect in the market in which they are used. In any event, the issue is whether an appreciable number of prospective purchasers of the goods or services in connection with which the designation and the trademark or trade name are used are likely to regard them as indicating the same source. That a few particularly undiscerning prospective purchasers might be so misled is not enough.” Basically, if the general public views a term as relating to one identifiable good or service, and that public, because of the use of the term, cannot judge the actual origin of the good or service, than, that term is probably not going to be considered generic, and trademark infringement is likely. “To avoid unreasonably restraining the public's use of the language, the exclusive appropriation of generic words must be discouraged. The public has an interest in the "natural enrichment of the language [and the prevention of the] 'diminution of the language through private acquisition.'" Folsom and Teply, Trademarked Generic Words, 89 Yale L.J. 1323, 1346 n.110 (1980) (citations omitted).”

    It gets a little more complicated. From the above example, it is readily noted that commonly used words, that have no identifying meaning that allocate them to one owner, cannot be a factor in trademark infringement. But, more importantly, and more relevant, is the understanding of what can and cannot be trademarked. The following case is more relevant, with respect to this Shaolin issue.

    This case was reviewed by the Supreme court of New Jersey: THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE FIRST CHURCH OF CHRIST, SCIENTIST, IN BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, AND THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE PUBLISHING SOCIETY, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS, v. DORIS W. EVANS, STEPHEN T. EVANS, ROY DOBBELAAR, JOANNE JANNUZZI, RUTH PFEIFER AND MARY BETH SINGLETERRY, AS MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE FIRST CHURCH OF CHRIST, SCIENTIST, PLAINFIELD, NEW JERSEY, AND THE FIRST CHURCH OF CHRIST, SCIENTIST, PLAINFIELD, NEW JERSEY, ALSO KNOWN AS THE INDEPENDENT CHRISTIAN SCIENCE CHURCH, PLAINFIELD, NEW JERSEY, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS .

    The plaintiffs wanted to prevent the defendants from using the term “Christian Science” in any name or organization, not affiliated with the plaintiff’s organization. The story, which is quite interesting, is as follows.

    Christian Science is a religion founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1866. As the religion grew, there developed an organizational structure. In 1879 The Church of Christ, Scientist, was founded in Lynn, Massachusetts. From 1881 until 1889 Mrs. Eddy was principal of the Massachusetts Metaphysical College, which was replaced by the First Church of Christ, Scientist (the "Mother Church"), established in 1889 and relocated in Boston, Massachusetts in 1892. 2 J. Melton, The Encyclopedia of American Religions 74-77 (1978). Plaintiff Board of Directors is a Massachusetts corporation that conducts the business of the Mother Church. The Church has a separate publishing arm, governed by the plaintiff Board of Trustees.

    The Mother Church, which is the center of a world-wide religious organization, bears the formal name "The First Church of Christ, Scientist." Local members of the organization consist of branch churches or societies, the difference between the two being primarily a matter of size. Branch churches are formally designated "First Church of Christ, Scientist," followed by a geographical designation, unless they are the second or third branch within one city, in which case the numerical designation changes. These names are prescribed by the Church Manual, and are provided for in New Jersey by statute, N.J.S.A. 16:3-2. Typically, the branch churches establish "Christian Science Reading Rooms," where publications relating to the religion are made available to the public.

    The individually-named defendants are trustees of the defendant church (the "Plainfield Church"), which was formerly a branch church affiliated with plaintiffs. The Plainfield Church became an authorized branch of the Mother Church in 1892, the year the Mother Church was first located in Boston. In 1977 a doctrinal schism developed between the Boston organization and the Plainfield Church. On June 16, 1977, plaintiff Board of Directors gave notice that it was withdrawing its recognition of the Plainfield Church as a branch of the Mother Church. The letter of notice also declared, "Former First Church, Plainfield, no longer has the legal right to identify itself publicly as a 'Church of Christ, Scientist' or a 'Christian Science Church' or in any other way use the term 'Christian Science' or similar words to describe any of its activities."

    After receipt of this notice, defendants began taking steps to disassociate the Plainfield Church from the Mother Church. The Plainfield Church terminated its status as a corporation formed under N.J.S.A. 16:3-1 to -11 (which refer consistently to "church of Christ, Scientist," and nowhere use the expression "Christian Science church"), and reincorporated as a general religious corporation under N.J.S.A. 16:1-1 to -12. It adopted the name "Independent Christian Science Church of Plainfield, New Jersey."

    Plaintiffs filed this suit on July 21, 1980. Their cause of action rested on asserted trade mark and service mark rights in the phrases "Church of Christ, Scientist" and "Christian Science." They sought to enjoin defendants
    from using as the name of, or in connection with, any church, religious group, society, association, organization, or service now existing or which may be organized or exist, independently of the Mother Church and its branches, the names or designations, "Church of Christ, Scientist," "First Church of Christ, Scientist," "Branch Church of Christ, Scientist," "Christian Science Church," "Independent Christian Science Church," "Christian Science Reading Room," "Independent Christian Science Reading Room," or any name so similar thereto as to be likely to deceive the public or lead to confusion.


    Plaintiffs alleged that the terms used by defendants so nearly resembled plaintiffs' names and marks (trademarks and service marks) as to be likely to cause confusion, mistake, and deception, to constitute false representation, and to result in unfair appropriation of plaintiffs' name, reputation, and good will. They charged that use of the terms constituted a false designation of origin and a false description or misrepresentation under federal trademark law, section 43 of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C.A. § 1125”.

    The opinion offered by the court was relevant:

    “The fact that defendants seek here to use the name "Christian Science Church" now, after plaintiffs have used the phrase with little competition for a long period, makes no difference. Plaintiffs simply cannot appropriate, from the public domain, the common name of a religion and somehow gain an exclusive right to its use and the right to prevent others from using it. This principle is fundamental to the law of trademarks, the body of law under which plaintiffs seek relief.

    Generic names are regarded by the law as free for all to use. They are in the public domain. * * * To grant an exclusive right to one firm of use of the generic name of a product would be equivalent to creating a monopoly in that particular product, something that the trademark laws were never intended to accomplish. [McCarthy, supra, § 12.1 at 521”

    Basically, people cannot appropriate from the common domain the name of a religion and somehow gain an exclusive right to its use and prevent others from using it. This principal is fundamental to the law of trademarks. Also, generic names are regarded by law as free for all to use. They are in the public domain. To grant an exclusive right to one firm of use of the generic name of a product would be equivalent to creating a monopoly in that particular product, something that the trademark laws were never intended to accomplish

    How this relates to the usage of the term “Shaolin”, is going to be interesting, if, it ever becomes an issue that ends up in the US courts. The law is pretty clear about the use and protection of trademarks; what might remain to be seen, is whether or not the term “Shaolin” is commonly used enough by the public domain, to refer to various things, to enable it to be referred to as “generic”. Quite interesting however, is the fact that if you search the US government trademark database, there are currently twenty seven trademarks issued, which contain the word “Shaolin”. Two of them, appear to be trademarks issued to representatives of Shi Guolin, a disciple of Shi Yongxin. The others appear to be unrelated commercial ventures.

    Now, to your questions:

    “In your mind, does this move by the monks signal a turnaround by mainland companies? Does this signal greater knowledge and vigilance amongst Chinese companies? Or should the move by the monks be considered a ‘one-off’ event?”

    I really don’t have any idea what other Chinese mainland companies are doing, or, what they are concerned about. It does appear, that Shi Yongxin is concerned either about the worldwide presentation of Shaolin, or it’s commercial value, or some combination of both. Moves to trademark the name Shaolin in the US is going to meet a certain amount of humorous conflict, as, it is quite commonplace for martial arts schools here to use the term Shaolin in their name, or in their description, even though those schools might not teach anything that closely resembles what has been, or what is currently being, taught at the temple. If the monks, that is, Yongxin, attempts to trademark the term for his own usage, and, he decides to enforce it, he’s going to be spending a lot of time with US attorneys. He’s not going to be able to sell enough books to pay for those legal bills. It seems like a futile effort. .

    “What has prompted the monks ie. Shi Yongxin to do this at this point in
    time? What has provided the motivation?”

    I think that the motivation, if, one has not figured it out by now, might possibly be considered to be the same factor that motivates the rest of the world to trademark a term for their protection. It has to do with commerce, and value. It has to do with money. Why else trademark a term? Because you like it?

    “Would you be able to provide perspective on the monks’ stance, and also in relation to what the ramifications of their current action will be for you and your organisation?”

    I can’t speak for all of the monks, nor can I speak for the ones that I know. I do know that the monks that I’m friendly with, really don’t care to any degree. Some of them have traveled to various parts of the world, and have used the Shaolin moniker, without Yongxin’s permission. The monk’s feelings on the matter seem to be, that any place that they call home, any place that they use to teach their tradition and their gong fu, is a “Shaolin temple”. Which is why, you find, in almost all cases, that name used in various ways, in the names of their respective schools. It’s been my experience that these guys are not interested in legal or business ramifications; they are more concerned with teaching. Issues such as these are just not relevant to them. And as for my organization, I don’t see how it is going to be an issue. Far too many institutions and people use the term, and sometimes, falsely, for their own commercial gain. As I’ve mentioned, people have already trademarked the term Shaolin in combination with other words, not only in this country, but, already, in others. I just don’t see how creating a trademark of the term Shaolin, if, even possible, is going to prevent the current usage of the term in previously trademarked instances. And with such a widespread use of the term, even though it is used incorrectly, dealing with the process of trying to alter this usage would be incredibly expensive, if possible at all. I understand the concerns that Yongxin has, and I understand the reasoning, but, with my very limited understanding of the law, it doesn’t seem possible for Yongxin to successfully achieve his goals in this respect. What’s right is right, but, sometimes, trying to make it right, is not worth it.

    doc

    Please go to the Discussion Archive, Shaolin Topics section, Topic Twelve, for more interesting commentary on this very important issue.

  3. #3
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    I hope to see more on this soon. I've been interested in this since I saw the first "shaolin" school I can remember. I'm surprised that this didn't happen sooner in some ways.

  4. #4
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    So lemme get this straight. This means all the schools teaching shaolin gungfu that are not directly connected to the current temple administration will have to call themselves something else, ie. they won't be able to say they teach "shaolin" gungfu?
    "Be Cool" - Lao Tzu

  5. #5
    How many of these schools teach Shaolin gong fu, as it is presently taught at the temple, and as it has traditionally been taught at the temple???

    Now there's something for you to think about....

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

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  6. #6
    doc: thats very interesting though... coz your gong fu brother Gene also does "Bak Siu Lum", which is a northern shaolin system transposed to the south of china. How does it fit in to all this as its documented to come from the temple a few generations ago.

    as far as i can see the shaolin in the temple doesnt have any of those bak siu lum forms in its curriculum? Even though they "recognise" it as derived form shaolin?

    dave
    simple and natural is my method,
    true and sincere is my principle --Tse Sigung

  7. #7
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    How many of these schools teach Shaolin gong fu, as it is presently taught at the temple, and as it has traditionally been taught at the temple???
    Who's to say what's traditional and what's not any more? It's generally accepted that what's taught at the temple these days isn't 100% "traditional", as such... but then, what of the schools teaching styles descended from the southern shaolin temples? Do they have any less right to the shaolin name than the current temple (even if they're not fully intact traditional styles), seeing as how the current northern shaolin wushu is probably just as subjected to distortions and modifications, especially since modernised sports wushu, as any hypothetical southern styles? What about the Wudang temple's shaolin heritage? How many sentences in a row can a man possibly finish with a question mark?
    "Be Cool" - Lao Tzu

  8. #8
    Well, this is the problem. Where do you draw the line?

    Do you consider things that have some direct correlation with Shaolin at some time in the past, to be "Shaolin"? In that case, the problem is, you can almost associate just about any style, in most places of the world, as a "Shaolin" style, mainly because Shaolin's influence over the centuries has been fairly widespread. The problem is, a great deal of your Japanese martial arts, to use an example, have had varying degrees of influence from Shaolin, but if you compare what is currently taught in some of these Japanese styles, with what has been traditionally taught at Shaolin, there's little similarity. And yes, traditional stuff is still being taught at Shaolin, and from what I hear, Shi Yongxin has apparently heeded the call of the internet, and is trying to reintroduce more traditional stuff in the training for the the new temple monks (he has his masters that he has to please also, such as the Chinese government, which is more interested in propagating the more competitive wushu).

    But my feeling on all of this is, and this is my opinion, from watching Yongxin's movements over the years, and the progress and alteration that has occurred at the temple itself, is that Yongxin is going to want Shaolin's name associated only with schools that he "approves" of, and those schools are going to be schools taught by monks who have left the temple, in the "good graces" of the temple. It's going to get interesting. I've made the point that the term "Shaolin" can't be trademarked, as it's too common a name. It's in a post somewhere either here or in the Archive, can't remember where it went. The term "Shaolin Temple" can be trademarked, and, in my opinion, there's going to be lots of action with respect to this issue, coming from Yongxin and his associates or attorneys, in the future.

    Keep an eye on this issue. It's an important one, and it's not over yet.

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

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  9. #9
    Wood,


    Who's to say what's traditional and what's not any more? It's generally accepted that what's taught at the temple these days isn't 100% "traditional", as such...

    I've still don't understand why this issue is so misunderstood. Yes, there's plenty, if not mostly, wushu taught in the temple. But there is still a fair bit of traditional stuff taught there (which, it seems, is what people want more of as Doc just mentioned). Just because there is a mix of the two, it doesn't mean that one cannot identify or that this negates the traditional stuff. Traditional is still traditional. Wushu is wushu. Both are there. Capiche?

    Peace

  10. #10
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    Yeah, but that's my point (sorry for not making it clearer).

    If there's "wushu" and traditional shaolin styles at the temple, will he differences become lost- that is to say, by looking at a totally traditional, un-"wushu"-ised school, then at the various modernised aspects of shaolin temple training, you can see which parts are traditional at the temple and which aren't. The problem is that these non-temple traditional schools technically, IMHO, have as much right to call themselves "shaolin" as the temple does, so if they're not allowed to call themselves as such, future generations may not have the benefit of knowing the difference.

    The problem is that "traditional shaolin" gong fu in itself changes depending on which specific person is teaching it to you. It seems to me that variations on shaolin are as different as the people passing on the knowledge- wong fei hung's style is different form wong long's style is different from fong sai yuk's style is different from ng mui's style is different from chee seen's style is different to jiang nan's style etc etc etc and so on, so to introduce an element of "this IS OFFICIALLY shaolin and this is NOT shaolin" starts to go against the whole sort of unwritten tradition that we have here.
    "Be Cool" - Lao Tzu

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