Shaolin in Trinidad Train-Harder-dad
December 1st-6th 2005.
35th Generation U.S.A. Shaolin Temple Disciple Shi Heng Guo in cooperation with the Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago, extended an invitation to Shaolin Monk Shi Yan Ming, founding Abbot of the USA Shaolin Temple, to visit Trinidad and Tobago in order to establish Heng Guo's kung fu school as a new branch of the U.S.A. Shaolin Temple.
Shifu Shi Yan Ming (in yellow) and his disciple Shi Heng Guo at the welcoming celebration at Port of Spain International Airport in Trinidad. Shaolin in Trinidad
Shi Yan Ming continues on his history making journey to spread Shaolin Martial Arts or Ch'an Buddhism to the whole world. Accepting an invitation from his disciple Heng Guo and the government of Trinidad and Tobago to come and share the over 1500 years of traditions and training of the Shaolin Temple Martial Arts or Ch'an Buddhism with the people of Trinidad and Tobago, Shi Yan Ming arrived in Port of Spain with three of Heng Guo's disciple brothers for a week long visit. Joining Shifu were Heng Nai, Heng Zhou, and Heng Fa. This was the first time that a Shaolin Monk had been officially invited to the Caribbean nation, located off the coast of Venezuela.
Greeted by Heng Guo at the Port of Spain Airport, Shifu was welcomed into a special area established for important dignitaries. The visitors enjoyed a brief welcoming speech by Airport officials before they were whisked through Trinidadian customs and out into the waiting throng of acrobatic Lion Dancers, the frenetic sounds of Chinese drums, and Heng Guo's students, friends, extended family members, the Wushu Federation, and representatives of the local martial arts and Chinese community. A large banner proclaimed Shifu's official visit to the curious crowd, and onlookers quickly gathered to watch the unfolding history. News cameras quickly dashed in to record the first Shaolin monk to step foot on the soil of Trinidad. After some brief interviews by local news media, Shifu spoke from his heart about the loving welcome received by the Shaolin contingent and posed for some of the onlookers craning their necks and sticking out cell phones and cameras to catch a piece of the action.
After lunch at a local Chinese restaurant, Eagle's, Shifu was shown around Port of Spain, enjoyed coconuts, some scenic views of the city from the hills, and "doubles" from a local street cart, courtesy of Sifu Khabir. The day ended back at the hotel, with a small tremor gently shaking Port of Spain.
The next day saw several rounds of local television interviews, where Shifu, accompanied by Heng Guo, spoke about Shaolin Temple Martial Arts or Ch'an Buddhism, explained philosophy and it's history, kissed his toes, explained some action language, and spoke about the many benefits of training in authentic Shaolin traditions. Soon it was back to Eagle's for seaweed noodle soup, with prodigious helpings of Chinese vinegar.
Shifu Shi Yan Ming demonstrating what he means by "action language" as he kisses his toes on early morning TV.
A special meeting was arranged with the Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs, the Honorable Mr. Roger Boynes, who invited Shifu and his disciples down to his offices to discuss the future of Shaolin in Trinidad, and to offer his assistance as Heng Guo firmly helps Shifu plant the seeds of Shaolin in his homeland. Shifu presented the Minister with a special piece of calligraphy, done in traditional style and being executed in one fluid stroke. Shifu chose the character "Long," which means "Dragon," which he also signed with a dedication to the Minister. The Minister proudly displayed the calligraphy immediately in his meeting chamber. Power, Strength, Peace, Love, Harmonies. Shifu chose this character because the dragon embodies many virtuous characteristics which should serve as an important understanding for the Minister to keep in mind and as he executes his office.
The rest of the day was occupied with more sight seeing, training, and a fantastic dinner of Trinidadian specialties. An emotional visit to Heng Guo's temple in Couva was followed with a short but intense training session, and soon it was time for a special demonstration for Shifu by Heng Guo's dedicated students. The students performed a rousing set of basics and forms, and then celebrated Shifu's visit with a fantastic buffet of curried chicken, roti, curried goat, chick peas, and other Indian and Trinidadian dishes.
The next day was scheduled for seminars and a lecture and discussion, to be held at the Sports Arena back in Port of Spain. The seminar attracted people from many different backgrounds. Many members of the local martial arts schools came to train, students from university, housewives with their children in tow, young and old, and were joined by members of the local Chinese Community who were in attendance as they geared up for their coming anniversary celebrations. Everyone took to the floor of the arena to learn Tai Ji, Shaolin Ji Ben Gong, Chi Kung, and to listen to Shifu speak about Shaolin Temple Martial Arts or Ch'an Buddhism. Shifu took some questions from the audience and attendees after a group demonstration by Heng Guo's students, and then did several rounds of picture taking and well wishing.
It was off to eat, and then some time to relax at a beach house located on one of Trinidad's pristine beaches.
On Monday, Shifu was accorded a special honor, being invited to meet with the President of Trinidad and Tobago, His Excellency Professor George Maxwell Richards, who was very excited about the Shaolin Monk's first official visit to his country. As Shifu and his disciples were announced to the President, a round of refreshing coconut water was offered to the guests and a conversation soon developed between the two leaders. The President spoke with the Shaolin monk at great length about Shaolin Temple and Shifu's goals of spreading the teachings and traditions of the Temple to Trinidad. The President pledged his support in this endeavour, recognized how Shaolin could greatly benefit some of the troubled youth of the nation and expressed his desire to work with the Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs to bring Shifu back to Trinidad in the near future. Shifu presented His Excellency with a piece of calligraphy, and for this auspicious occasion he chose the character "Pho," which means "Buddha." All things are contained in this word. Executed in one clean stroke of the brush, His Excellency spent some time studying the character and absorbing the sweep of it's powerful lines.
Shifu Shi Yan Ming adding the finishing touches to the Character Pho (Buddha). Shifu dedicated this calligraphy drawn in one stroke by his own hand to the President of Trinidad and Tobago.
Shifu and his disciples at their audience with His Excellency Professor George Maxwell Richards.
After the meeting with His Excellency, it was time to train more seaweed soup, and then catch some of the live music for which Trinidad is world famous for as Shifu and his disciples checked out some Soca Parang at a local club.
All too soon it was time to leave Trinidad for colder climates, but with the warmth and love expressed by Heng Guo and the Trinidadian people for Shifu and the Shaolin Temple, it was obvious that it would not be long before we return to water the seeds of Shaolin in Trainharderdad.
Shifu and the USAST would like to extend a special Amitabha to Heng Guo, his mother Davika, Shaolin Mommy, Heng Guo's Brothers, Bob the President of the Trinidad and Tabago Table Tennis Association, Sifu Khabir, Mr. Mohammed, Michael and his Dancers, Shaolin sister, the owner of the S bar, Special Water Lohan, Li, and all the people of Trinidad and Tobago who showed us all so much love and warmth.