The hold of Zen

By Satarupa Bhattacharjya and Qi Xin ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-10-08 07:29:22

The hold of Zen

Children learn kung fu in a school of the Taguo Education Group in Dengfeng, Henan. [Photo by Xiang Mingchao/China Daily]

'Keep going'

At its core, the order has 300 monks led by abbot Shi, whose office declined an interview request from the paper. He has been at the helm of Shaolin since 1999.

Young Chinese from different parts of the country are picked by the monastery through a test for the residential programs for kung fu and Buddhist studies. As the country's elite martial arts institution, Shaolin relies more on skills while screening students for the far fewer seats it has as compared with other kung fu schools, including the dozens in Henan.

The monastery encourages the masters and disciples to maintain a disciplined lifestyle that doesn't involve the consumption of alcohol or meat. Monks aren't allowed to marry either.

"It is our fate that has brought us here," says Shi Yanfeng, 27.

The monk came to Shaolin at age 15 from East China's Anhui province. Now as a teacher here, he sometimes goes abroad for the school's kung fu events.

Surrounding Shaolin, some 40 martial arts schools have thrived in Dengfeng in the past few decades, with the Tagou Education Group being one of the largest. Founded by kung fu master Liu Baoshan in 1978, it established its first school within 1,000 meters of Shaolin and today has six across the city.

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