Yesterday we visited Shaolin Temple, the place where Kung Fu originated. The temple dates back to AD 477, and although it all seems very touristy and modern now, it still has a very special and good feel about the place. The natural setting in the valley, surrounded by mountains, is very special. We saw various ancient temple buildings, and ancient trees with indentation marks from where the monks would practice “finger punching” over many hundreds of years. We also climbed one of the mountains to visit “Dharma Cave” – where apparently Bodhidharma – a famous Indian Monk, traveled here in AD527 and lived for 9 years in the cave- most of that time spent staring at the wall meditating – and thus founded Zen Buddhism.
Kung Fu at Shaolin is now a big industry, both the domestic training industry (there are a number of schools, some of which have 20,000+ students) – parents send their children here hoping that they will become a movie star like Jet Li or Jackie Chan – and for the tourists. There are various shows – we just saw the “free” one at the temple itself – it was quite fun and good skills were shown by the boys – but you could tell there wasn’t much spiritual left about the Kung Fu they were practising.
Here’s a short video clip to give you the idea (High Def – probably best to download this rather than play in browser): Kung Fu Show at Shaolin