SONGSHAN SHAOLIN TEMPLE
“Center of Heaven & Earth”
China Songshan Shaolin Temple
named World Cultural Heritage Site
by UNESCO, August 1, 2010
Songshan Shaolin Temple website
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Master Shi Yanran, Executive Director
of Shaolin Temple USA
34th generation Shaolin Temple Buddhist Monk
Master Shi Yanran with mentor Abbot Shi Yongxin in front of the California State Building during their visit to the State Capital on March 21, 2004 for the official proclamation of "Shaolin Temple Day."
Shaolin Temple Abbot Ven. Shi Yongxin and Shaolin Kung Fu Monks after a performance in San Francisco on "Shaolin Temple Day," March 21, 2004. Master Shi Yanran (4th right, front row) was a member of the delegation.
Venerable Abbot Shi Yongxin officiated the grand opening of Shaolin Temple Culture Center in San Francisco, March 19.
Shaolin Temple USA
Our RootsSongshan Shaolin Temple of China
Shaolin Temple USA is an institution for the learning of Shaolin Kung Fu culture and Chan Buddhism. The Temple currently has four Shaolin Culture Centers located respectively in San Francisco, Fremont and Sunnyvale, California, and in Herndon, Virginia. These centers offer classes in Shaolin Kung Fu, Shaolin Qigong and Shaolin Wellness lessons for children and adults. Classes are taught by Shaolin Kung Fu monks from the world famous Songshan Shaolin Temple in Henan Province, China.
Shaolin Temple USA’s mission in America and its unique identity is deeply rooted in Songshan Shaolin Temple's 1,500-year tradition and cultural legacy:
- Shaolin Temple USA is Songshan Shaolin Temple’s first branch organization in North America. Our Shaolin Temple Culture Centers in San Francisco, Fremont and Sunnyvale, CA and Herndon VA are official overseas cultural, educational and training centers of Songshan Shaolin Temple.
- Venerable Shi Yongxin, Abbot of China Songshan Shaolin Temple, presides as Permanent Advisor to this institution. Abbot Yongxin personally founded and headed the world renowned Shaolin Temple Kung Fu Monks Corps over two decades ago.
- The mission of Shaolin Temple USA is to spread Shaolin Kung Fu Chan (Zen) culture through the unique Shaolin disciplines of martial arts: Kung Fu and Qigong.
- Shaolin Temple USA draws first-hand teaching resources from the Shaolin Temple’s 1,500-year old treasure chest of traditional Shaolin Kung Fu training manuals and physical wellness classics that have never been revealed to the outside world, and from a long lineage of Kung Fu masters who pass their mantle to younger generations of Shaolin disciples.
- Many of the Kung Fu Monks at Shaolin Temple USA have toured the world with theatrical productions featuring Shaolin Kung Fu such as Shaolin: Wheel of Life and performed in more than 1,500 productions for audiences in over 40 countries, including many heads of states and dignitaries such as Queen Elizabeth II of England, President Vladimir Putin of Russia and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger of the United States.
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- Shaolin Temple USA shares its rich heritage with people of all backgrounds and ages by teaching and promoting Shaolin Kung Fu as a unified form of physical and spiritual culture. Shaolin Kung Fu is more than martial arts. It is a discipline that helps people achieve better physical and spiritual balance and wellness.
- Shaolin Temple USA’s curriculum includes traditional Shaolin fist and weapon systems, Qigong, Shaolin Wellness Exercises and Chan (Zen) meditation, with comprehensive, structured and well-balanced programs designed for people of different ages and physical aptitude.
- Besides Shaolin Kung Fu classes, Shaolin Kung Fu Chan workshops are conducted from time to time to offer more opportunities for people to further study the art and wisdom of Shaolin Kung Fu and Chan.
The Origin of Shaolin Temple
Shaolin Temple was established in 495 A.D. during the Northern Wei Dynasty of China. The Wei Emperor Xiaowen built the temple on Songshan Mountain of Henan Province to host the Indian high monk Batuo. In 517 A.D., South Indian Buddhist monk Bodhidharma landed in Shaolin Temple. He spent nine years meditating in a cave on WuruPeak behind the temple and founded the Chan School of Buddhism. For physical fitness between long meditation sessions, Bodhidharma created a series of exercises to stretch his limbs and strengthen his body. These exercises were taught to Shaolin monks to improve their health and thus began tradition of Shaolin Kung Fu and Shaolin Kung Fu monks. Bodhidharma was honored as the First Patriarch of Chan Buddhism and Shaolin Temple revered as the birthplace of Chan Buddhism, known to the Western world as Zen (Japanese name for Chan), and the cradle of Shaolin Kung Fu.
Shaolin Kung Fu and Shaolin Kung Fu Chan
For 1,500 years, Shaolin Kung Fu was passed down from generation to generation as a unique cultural and spiritual system manifested in the form of martial arts. It embodies not only the essence of Chinese martial arts but also the wisdom of Chan Buddhism. It is a treasured child of the cultural exchange between ancient China and India two great ancient civilizations of the world. It is a unique cultural phenomenon founded on Buddhist teachings of “no self” and “inconstancy.” The wisdom and courage inhabited in Shaolin Kung Fu is widely understood and respected by people of different cultures all over the world. Shaolin Kung Fu has become an integral part of mankind's spiritual civilization. Shaolin Temple monks emphasize that Chan and Kung Fu are the two integral aspects of their Buddhist regimen: Chan meditation leads to spiritual enlightenment, while Kung Fu not only maintains physical wellness for the pursuit of Chan, it is also a form of Chan cultivation.
Sharing Shaolin Culture with the World
In the 21st century, under the leadership of Abbot Shi Yongxin, the Shaolin Temple embarked on the monumental task of unearthing and compiling precious Shaolin classic manuals such as 72 Shaolin Supreme Teachings, Shaolin Medicine, Shaolin Wellness Kung Fu, Yijinjing (Change of the Sinews) and Xisuijing (Bone Marrow Cleansing) that have never been revealed to the world. The goal is to preserve and elevate these treasures for the benefit of the world in improving the people’s health and building a harmonious society.
Today, Shaolin Temple is the only temple in China that trains martial monks. The world rediscovered Shaolin Temple through the popular kung fu movie Shaolin Temple starring Jet Li in 1982. Since then, tens of thousands of martial arts enthusiasts visit Shaolin Temple every year to learn kung fu from the masters. Teams of monks have toured over 60 countries and performed their art as a world spectacle for world audiences and many heads of states. Overseas Shaolin cultural centers are established to more directly and accurately transmit the essence of Shaolin culture to people of the world.
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The Shaolin Temple Kung Fu Monks Delegation visited St. Paul of Brazil as part of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s entourage in his official visit to South America. Shaolin Kung Fu was showcased in an Experience China cultural extravaganza, November 2004.