WHERE IS SHAOLIN KUNGFU TAUGHT IF NOT AT THE SHAOLIN TEMPLE?
And if not (at the Shaolin Temple), where is it (Shaolin Kungfu) being taught?
-- Nicholas, USA
To have a good answer, it is necessary to be clear about the question. This may sound odd, but it is where the confusion starts.
The question is “Where is Shaolin Kungfu being taught?” It is very important to be clear about what is meant by “Shaolin Kungfu”. Most people, often without their conscious knowing, accept Shaolin Kungfu by its outward forms. So long as the forms they practice are Shaolin kungfu forms, they regard it as Shaolin Kungfu.
We in Shaolin Wahnam do not stop at the forms. We focus on the benefits, the forms being the means to realize the benefits. To us, Shaolin Kungfu brings combat efficiency, good health and spiritual cultivation. If the forms are Shaolin Kungfu forms but the practice does not bring combat efficiency, good health and spiritual cultivation, then it is not Shaolin Kungfu but just Shaolin Kungfu forms.
It is the same with Taijiquan and chi kung. Many people practice the outward forms of Taijiquan and chi kung, but do not get the benefits these arts are purported to give. To us, they only practice outward Taijiquan forms and outward chi kung forms, but not genuine Taijiquan or genuine chi kung.
If you are contented to accept outward forms as “Shaolin Kungfu”, then it is taught in many places all over the world, including by modern Shaolin monks inside and outside of China.
But still it is not taught in the modern Shaolin Temple. The modern Shaolin Temple has become a very important tourist attraction. Thousands of people visit it every day, and there is just no space to practice “Shaolin Kungfu”. When people said they went to the Shaolin Temple to practice “Shaolin Kungfu”, what they did was to practice modern wushu in the numerous wushu schools around the Temple.
As I have said before, wushu is a magnificent art and it demands much devotion to master it, but it is different from traditional Shaolin Kungfu. Wushu practitioners, for example, do not practice combat application. Some wushu practitioners are formidable fighters, but they use Kick-Boxing or other martial techniques but not wushu or kungfu forms for combat.
Many wushu practitioners sustain injuries, especially knee injuries, from their training. We do not regard this as contributing to good health. Wushu training pays no attention to spiritual cultivation. When wushu was invented by the modern Chinese government, it was meant to be a physical sport.
If you conceptualize Shaolin Kungfu not just by its external forms but by its benefits of combat efficiency, good health and spiritual cultivation, then Shaolin Kungfu is very, very rare today. We are proud to say that we in Shaolin Wahnam are one of these rare schools.
Like what you have said, a lot of people, especially those who are practicing only external Shaolin forms, are not happy to hear my answer. But when I am asked respectfully by sincere persons who want to know, I have to courageously tell the truth as a Shaolin disciple, rather than say pleasant things to please the questioners.
The above is taken from Question 2 of January 2008 Part 1 of the Selection of Questions and Answers.
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