Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Shaolin Shakedown

THE SHAOLIN TEMPLE In the mountains of China’s Henan Province has been a place where countless monks have studied the way of Buddha, but the temple is best known for the physical feats of its monks. In the entire world you cannot find a greater number of grown men wearing saffron who can take a swift kick in the groin without even flinching. It’s the magic of Kung Fu.

Kung Fu may be heaped in ancient tradition, but that hasn’t stopped the temple from embracing modernization. The Shaolin temple is big business. Last year over 1 million tourists visited the temple and paid the $12.50 entrance fee. The monks tour the world putting on shows. They have cell phones. Many of them are studying for their MBA’s. They established a copyright in 1997 to combat misuse of their name in movies such as Shaolin Shakedown , which is a movie title I completely made up, but one I would consider purchasing. I even have a movie summary in mind:

Shaolin Shakedown: A coming of age story in which a young monk launches a hip-hop dance craze based on the fluidity of Kung Fu and the movements of small, friendly woodland creatures such as moles.

The temple is even getting in on the reality television craze. They will host a sort of Kung Fu Idol in which contestants compete for a position in a Kung Fu movie.

You can learn more about the Martial Art Moguls in a recent feature in the Asia Times.

In the interest of full-disclosure, I studied Southern-style Shaolin Kung Fu for a few years. My school was somewhat less prestigious than THE TEMPLE in China as it was in a strip mall in Ohio next to a Domino’s. I won the student of the year award once. If you don’t believe me prepare to face the wrath of my years of training, which means, that I will throw my 5x8 Kung Fu Award Plaque at you and runaway a safe distance before looking back to see if it inflicted any damage.

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