Strongest Shaolin Monks

In 1980, famous martial artist actor Jet Li arrived at the Shaolin temple to shoot his feature film debut, Shaolin Temple which brought tourism and fame to Shaolin Kung Fu.

To understand the power of Shaolin Kung Fu, we shall share some information about Shaolin Monks and Kung Fu.

The strongest Shaolin Monk

Shi Yan Ming, 34th generation Shaolin warrior, is famously known as the founder of US Shaolin Temple and strongest Shaolin monk for winning several competition during his youth such as:

  • In 1985, Shi won the 65 kg (147 lb.) championship in the Xian National Sparring Competition. He also won the championship in the annual Shaolin Disciples Competition three years in a row (1988–1990), and was vice-coach of the Shaolin Temple Fighting Monks at Henan.
  • In 1992, Shi, who had won many national martial arts competitions, and was chosen to be among a group of select Shaolin monks invited by the American Kung Fu Association to tour the United States, the first such tour for the Shaolin, to spread the knowledge of Shaolin Kung Fu

Can Shaolin Monks Fight

Shaolin Monks do not win in modern MMA fights. This does not means Shaolin monks cannot fight. There are many people who fights well practicing Shaolin Kung Fu.

Based on US Shaolin Temple, students of Shi Yan Ming include members of the Wu-Tang Clan, Bokeem Woodbine, Tricky, Kadeem Hardison, Michelle Forbes, Rosie Perez, John Leguizamo, Bjork, Wesley Snipes. 

  • The main name that stands up was Wesley Snipes. Wesley Snipes is a true martial artists and trained since 12 years old. He had a 5th degree black belt in Shotokan Karate and a 2nd degree black belt in Hapkido. He has also studied Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Capoeira before learning Shaolin Kung Fu. Therefore, Shaolin monks definitely can fight and gained respect from martial artists.

Other people who tried Shaolin Kung Fu includes Roy Nelson and Jason Delucia (thanks to Reddit for the information).

  • Roy Nelson trained in karate and began training in Ark Wong's Ng Ga Kuen Shaolin Kung Fu when he was 15 years old. Nelson did trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under UFC veteran John Lewis in 2000 and had some success in UFC fights, though not using Shaolin Kung Fu.
  • Jason Delucia started out as a 5 Animals kung-fu stylist. A few years before his UFC 2 debut, he accepted the "Gracie Challenge" to come and fight the Gracies at their school. He lost, and so he trained there in BJJ (for over a month I think). It was the stuff he learned there that he used in UFC 2, even though he was billed as a "kung-fu fighter". By then, he had completely discarded kung-fu

Why are Shaolin Monks Strong

Besides practicing martial art, Shaolin Monks cultivating their mental strength 24/7 every day. Therefore, Shaolin monks are strong because they focus on mental strength and also does not require special equipment in gyms or weights to practice.

The late Shaolin monk Suxi said "Shaolin is Chan, not Quan". Chan means Zen and Shaolin monks focus on mental strength instead of martial arts. Shaolin monks also do not carries weights or workout in gyms that are typical for modern martial artists.

In Men's Health, Sheuyi, a Shaolin monk, said "our whole body is the machine" when asked about doing weights or cable machines.

Therefore, Shaolin monks rely on their body to gain strength. It could be as easy as doing headstands, relay races, press ups, and squats. They use traditional training methods and have not evolved at all.

A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research compared traditional resistance training (weights) to plyometric training and calisthenics, with both sets showing identical gains in exercises such as squats.

One of folk stories is that all monks start with sweeping the floor of the Shaolin Temple and the strongest monks are those who only sweep the floor.

Shi Dechao, a Shaolin monk, said to WSJ that real kung fu monks don't fight. They meditate and practice kung fu to reach enlightenment. The Shaolin Temple's decision to stay out of the 2008 martial arts competition, theld at the same time as the 2008 Olympics and passing out medals of its own. 

"Every fist contains my love," says the Dechao, also known as Big Beard.

Huang Jiahao, a Shaolin monk, who joined London’s Sadler’s Wells dance theatre also shared about life in Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng City, China as “regimented and timetabled”.

“At the temple we wake up at 5:00 am to attend morning prayer,” said Huang“Breakfast is at 6:00 am and then we study all day. Kung fu is not designed to be a stage show or performance."

Sky Hoon. About
Martial Art Fan
He started his love on martial arts by watching MMA and Angela Lee. He then started this blog to learn more about the different martial arts.
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