Shaolin Warrior Monks Wont Fight at Beijing Games

By: gbrajput

www.wushuindia.com - The Shaolin Temple warrior Secular Disciples, the world's most respected kung fu practitioners, will not to take part in the "wushu" events planned for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Just days after China finally decided to showcase wushu at the Games, the monks announced they would not turn their Zen-based martial art into a competitive sport to be "quantified" by judges.

www.wushuindia.com, Indian official Wushu news agency, reported the yellow-robed monks would not kick and chop for the world to watch because their art belongs to a sacred tradition.

"Chinese wushu belongs to competitive sports, whereas Shaolin wushu belongs to traditional martial arts," said Qian Daliang, general manager of the Henan Shaolin Temple Development Company.

"The two have different natures, standards and connotations. Performance in Chinese martial arts can be quantified, but Shaolin wushu cannot be measured in that way, as it contains Buddhist elements and showcases a harmonious combination of Buddhism and kung fu."

Last week, Zhang Faqiang, vice-president of the Chinese Olympic Committee, announced that wushu - as kung fu is known in China - would be "showcased" at the Beijing Games and predicted this could have "extremely significant implications" for it eventually becoming an Olympic sport.

Without the high-profile support of the storied monks, however, wushu may have a hard time rising above the status of ballroom dancing and bowling to become a medal sport.

The Shaolin fighting monks, who live and train in their temple high in the Songshan Mountains in China's central Henan Province, are the world's oldest and most renowned kung fu masters.



Thousands flock to their temple every year to study their art. Even ultra-fit Russian President Vladimir Putin made a stop there during a visit to China in 2006.

Legend has it that an Indian monk named Bodhi Dharma brought wushu to China in AD 527 when he visited the Shaolin temple and found the monks living the life of academics, sallow-skinned and in poor health from spending their days studying and meditating in dark, damp halls.

The Indian master brought them out into the sunshine and taught them exercises based on the movements of snakes, eagles, tigers, cranes and monkeys. And in the process, he changed their history.

In the centuries to follow, Shaolin monks refined their exercises into a martial art and whenever their temple came under attack from bandits or warlords, they were able to defend themselves and their beliefs.

Under Abbot Shi Yong Xin, Shaolin has become increasingly intent on preserving its reputation, heritage and religious roots.

The Henan Shaolin Temple Development Company he set up has trademarked the Shaolin name and protected it in court from illegal use by kung fu schools around the world.

Shi also led a vigorous fight to have Shaolin wushu recognized by UNESCO on the list it is currently compiling of "intangible cultural heritage.

He was unsuccessful, however. China was only allowed one nominee and it chose the ancient opera form, Kun Qu.

While the monks won't fight at the Olympics, they will march, if invited.

They said they are prepared to take part in the opening ceremonies and otherwise support the games "in a cultural and spiritual way."

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