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HomeTai ChiREVIEW: American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of Iron...

REVIEW: American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of Iron Crotch: An Odyssey within the New China

I’ve been that means to learn the story of Matthew Polly’s account of his time spent coaching on the well-known Shaolin monastery for years, however I lastly received round to it lately due to my subscription*. And what an amazing learn it’s! I’m positive we will all determine with the teenage Polly, uncertain of himself and his place on the planet, who falls below the spell of Kung Fu and decides to dedicate his life to the pursuit of it as some sort of escapism from the pressures and fakeness of the trendy world. To Polly, Kung Fu represented one thing chic, pure and otherworldly that truly meant one thing. However in contrast to most of us, he did extra than simply dream about it, he really went to Shaolin and lived there for nearly a 12 months, at a time when there was no Web, no simple method to get there and China had solely lately opened as much as foreigners, so most Chinese language individuals had by no means even seen a Laowai within the flesh earlier than.

Polly’s story might finest be summed up as a sequence of misadventures punctuated by moments of chic martial arts inspiration. He manages to get into all kinds of scrapes involving by accident offending senior get together officers, being entered right into a match towards a San Da champion and hilarious misadventures with the alternative intercourse. Half Invoice Bryson-style travelogue, and half kung fu geek-out, it is a rewarding, even emotional, look into what the Shaolin monks had been actually like within the Nineteen Nineties, simply as their worldwide fame as stage performers was beginning to unfold and take over from the magical picture all people had of them from the Kung Fu TV present. (Apparently, at one level Polly watches the Kung Fu TV present with the monks who laughed their heads off on the concept of burning a dragon and tiger into your arms by lifting a sizzling anvil and dropping it into the snow – “why would you try this???”)

What you actually get from this e book is a way of what the Shaolin monks are actually like again then, and the way far more human, relatable and right down to earth they’re in comparison with the lofty concepts all of us have of them. It solutions all the large questions like, how good are they at really preventing, how severely they take the “monk” aspect of their lives and the way they prepare iron first, arm, head and even iron crotch.

The little snatches of Chinese language you decide up by studying the e book are additionally a hidden bonus and convey the characters to life marvellously. By the tip of the e book you’re feeling like they’re your folks and you recognize them simply in addition to Polly did. Anyone who likes this weblog would love this e book. Beneficial.

N.B. The quilt with a monk holding a Burger King bag is consultant of the thought of American values seeping into China, however a bit of deceptive as there have been no Burger Kings in China then, and definitely nothing like that within the rural backwater of the Shaolin village.

*Like numerous different books, American Shaolin is included in the fee Audible subscription, so if you’re a subscriber you get it free.


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