Keeping the legacy of Shaolin alive
Historically, Shaolin disciples began their training as early as 5 years old, when they were offered to the temple by their parents for training in martial arts or Chan Buddhism. It is considered imperative that training begin at an early age in order to acquire the necessary skills to become an authentic Shaolin monk. Currently the Shaolin Temple in China no longer accepts and trains young disciples in Martial arts or Chan Buddhism, the Temple in China operates today as a World Heritage site preserving the physical premises for tourism.
Nonetheless, the Chinese cultural tradition of parents enrolling their children in martial arts schools at the age of 4 or 5 is still strongly in place, where such schools flourish with enrollments ranging from 1,000 to 20,000 students. In fact, when the Shaolin Temple of China today sponsors a world tour of the "Shaolin Fighting Monks", those performers are actually hired from these Kung Fu schools to represent the Temple, rather than actually being raised and trained at the Temple.
The level of Kung Fu at these Chinese schools, and the Chinese tradition of a martial arts training in conjunction with academics, remains at a high level. It is a deep part of the Chinese psyche and culture that recognizes martial arts as an integral part of an education, making their graduates more confident and better disciplined to engage in whatever life's endeavors they encounter, be it a profession or a trade, family or good citizenship.
There exists in China a void as the martial arts training has been split and separated from the Chan Buddhist training. The martial arts education at these institutions does not incorporate the Chan Buddhist principles brought to China 1500 years earlier by Bodhidarma. Unless a Shaolin Temple is recreated within Shifu Shi Yan Ming's lifetime, the knowledge, history, philosophy, and traditions of Shaolin Temple will be lost forever.
Adapting the Shaolin concept to American culture requires an adjustment in form and appearance, while preserving the basic core. There is no historical reference to demonstrate that American families share the same Chinese cultural virtues of full time martial arts training for their young children away from home in a residential environment. Nonetheless, we have developed a plan to adapt the Shaolin model in American culture as a way to continue the authentic Shaolin Tradition.
In sum, we envision a martial arts summer camp operating as the primary financial engine to operate a full time orphanage and foster home, where those children without parents or functioning households can acquire discipline, virtue, philosophy, and enhanced education permitting them to leave the temple as a part of an extended family to lead wise and productive lives. In this manner young children, otherwise left behind to bland institutional rearing, will receive martial arts or Chan Buddhist training leading to an enhanced education. These individuals will enter society with discipline, confidence, and compassion, along with a first class academic education.
In time, we envision the foster home/orphanage morphing into a private boarding school where parents who are inclined to a disciplined school environment for their children would reap the benefits of incorporating martial arts or Chan Buddhism into a comprehensive educational platform.
In these forms we believe that eventually the authentic ancient Shaolin Temple's traditions will be transposed into western culture with a western appearance while maintaining the unspoken authentic Shaolin core.
(Read about the USA Shaolin Temple's Impact