Dearest Wonderguest, I have spent a great deal of time researching spirituality. Much of that research has fallen into the category of "eastern philosophy." Originally zen studies were most interesting. From the aged riddles of the Book of Equanimity, I learned how confusing subjective reality can be. I, having been lucky enough to live in the same town as Louis Steinberg, began to practice yoga -- 0f course this was only after the urging two of my very dear friends and what they have come to call the "JR Delay." This path of study has opened my mind to new experiences and helped me better communicate with the people around me. Recently I discovered that I was surrounded by people who practiced the martial arts. Ninjas, everywhere. This perhaps peaked my interest in learning self defense. Having been the victim of random attacks and the not so innocent victim of less-than-rouge fists, I decided that this might be beneficial. This research of self defense seems to clash with the harmonious nature of yogic practice. Well at least, I thought so until I stumbled onto the center portion of my Venn diagram. The point in which spirituality and yogic practice are mashed so closely together that its cosmic equivalence might be considered a black hole. The incredible Shaolin Monks....
The Shaolin Monastery…
was founded in 464 AD (for a proper date on the Chinese calendar here’s the format…uh… figure it out?) and is largely regarded as the most famous Mahayana Buddhist Temple. According to legend, Bodhidharma himself paid a visit to the temple. In doing so, the Dharma ranger brought his brand of wall-gazing Buddhism to the Monks at Shaolin.
Now this is where the story leans more towards legend: Apparently before leaving the temple, Bodhidharma left behind the book Yijin Jing (Muscle/Tendon Change Classic) which was written in ancient Indian. The Monks used these techniques with extreme rigor and in doing so achieved the skill and fame which they enjoy today.
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The Monastery is home to many monks. Some are preforming monks and others are monks immersed in the study of Zen. Regardless of their position at the temple they all practice what is commonly called Shaolin Kung Fu. Intense is the best way to describe Shaolin Kung Fu training(this is definitely not the best way). Through a series of harsh and controlled activities, the Shaolin Monks practice to make their bodies extremely tough. For fun, scroll through the video below to any point and see how intense this training is!
Shaolin monks are often revered for abilities such as uprooting trees, one finger push-ups, and being on the blunt end of a whole heck of a lot of pain. This list of exercises is enough to spark any imagination. It may seem a list of ridiculous feats near impossible to accomplish but consider for a moment if being a Shaolin Warrior was your day job. Instead of collating documents, you would be challenged to balance on a spear day in and day out. It’d be extremely different. To say the least, extreme!