Shifu Shi Yan Ming Leads a Seminar in Barbados
On Thursday, June 3rd, Shifu Shi Yan Ming and one of his students from the USA Shaolin Temple traveled to Bridgetown, Barbados to conduct a seminar and spread Shifu's message of peace, love, and self-understanding. Shifu was invited to Barbados by the Better Idea-Better Future organization, which is dedicated to providing a relatively secluded island with a wealth of ideas and cultural experiences. Better Idea-Better Future founders Gyles Pollard and Sagal Awad arranged for Shifu to visit the island for 5 days, conducting interviews, demonstrations, and a seminar teaching kung fu, tai chi, and qi gong.
The first few days of the trip focused on introducing Barbados to Shifu and Shaolin. In radio broadcast and televised interviews Shifu shared with Barbados his unique knowledge of Shaolin Temple History from Da Mo to the Wu Tang Clan. He offered his unique perspective on life at the Shaolin Temple and how it has evolved over the last few decades. He articulated his vision for the future of the Shaolin tradition. And, of course, he explained his particular interpretation of Kung Fu itself. All of this he did within a Barbadian context. How Barbados could be part of the Temple legacy, how it's culture could incorporate parts of Shaolin life, how Kung Fu might enrich it's people. For three days Shifu gave Barbados an intellectual introduction to Shaolin. On the fourth day he gave a physical introduction...
On Sunday June 6th Shifu taught a six hour seminar at the Barbados Community College Gym. The turnout was diverse with young children, teenagers, the middle-aged, and the elderly all in attendance. The first half of the seminar focussed on Kung Fu. Shifu gave a visceral glimpse into the severity of the training he'd been talking about for days, and also revealed the true secret of Kung Fu -- "More chi, Train harder." For the last half hour of this first half Shifu gave a lecture on Chan philosophy, Shaolin history, and Kung Fu. While it's possible many of those in attendance already heard much of this in the three days prior, the words take on a new meaning immediately after training. The second half of the seminar focussed on Tai Chi and Qi Gong. While some of those in attendance may have been familiar with Tai Chi or Qi Gong before, they probably weren't prepared for how Shifu teaches it, with relentless repetition, exhaustive extension, and constant focus. The seminar ended with several of the attendees shaking hands with Shifu, taking photos with him, and sharing with him their reasons for being there.
The last night was spent celebrating and discussing. Both Shifu and the Better Idea-Better Future organization feel that Barbados is an ideal location for a future Shaolin Temple. It's people seemed receptive to the messages of Chan and excited about the bennefits of Kung Fu. It could be a place where the Shaolin tradition is transplanted and allowed to grow into a unique branch of the overall Shaolin legacy, and ultimately contributing back to the source every time the two reconnect. It was hopefully the first of many future USA Shaolin Temple - Barbados trips.