Seventy-one Russian Shaolin disciples made a pilgrimage to the Shaolin Monastery, a Buddhist temple on Mount Song, near Henan province's Dengfeng city in Northern China on July 6.
The Russian disciples will spend half a month in the monastery experiencing the charm of Shaolin culture and exploring the mystery of Shaolin Kung Fu with Shaolin masters. This is the largest pilgrimage ever for Russian disciples. The trip was organized by Shi Yanbin, a renowned Shaolin Kung Fu and preacher in Russia who practiced Shaolin Kung Fu in the 1980s.
Shi Yongxin, the abbot of the Shaolin Monastery, hosted a ritual prayer service for world peace, and the Russian disciples worshipped him according to Shaolin etiquette. The Russian disciples then exchanged fighting skills with their Shaolin counterparts in combat, and masters in the Shaolin Monastery performed classical Shaolin Kung Fu. The Russian pilgrims were especially amazed to learn that four Shaolin masters are from Africa.
In fact, the disciples practicing Kung Fu in Shaolin Monastery make up an international family and come from more than 20 countries including Germany, France, Switzerland, Denmark, Spain, Pakistan, India, Malaysia, the US, Canada, and Argentina.
Shi Yanbin launched the Moscow Shaolin Kung Fu School, which during the past nine years has attracted 6,000 Russians interested in Shaolin culture. Many of these disciples expressed their interest in a pilgrimage to the Shaolin Monastery, and so Shi decided to organize it. They selected 71 outstanding students in the Moscow school, among whom are government officials, policemen, university students and businessmen. The oldest is 65 and the youngest 12..
The Russian people's love for Shaolin culture may be inspired by their president Putin. In President Putin's 2002 speech at Peking University, he said that his two daughters were practicing Kung Fu with a Shaolin master. Since then, the Shaolin Monastery has sent many disciples to Russia to promote cultural exchange. President Putin's personal visit to the Shaolin Monastery on March 22 in 2006 further aroused Russian interest in Shaolin Kung Fu.