Shaolin temple Kung Fu monks franchised to Yunnan

Trip Start Jan 30, 2007
Trip End Dec 31, 2011

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Flag of China  , Shanghai,
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Given the direction of China in recent decades - full speed ahead with capitalism - it isn't surprising that Buddhist monks from Shaolin Temple, known for kungfu legends, have been sent to work at four temples in Kunming, Yunnan province.

Master Yanlu, who is in charge of external relations at Shaolin, told China Daily Tuesday that 10 monks have moved to Yunnan, where they will help with charity and maintenance work at the temples, and also assist with the preservation of relics.

"The move will help to build a bridge between the cultures of Henan and Yunnan, and increase the influence of Shaolin," he said.

A strict selection process was used to choose the temples, each of which has strong spiritual and historic links to the 1,500-year-old temple, he said.

Shaolin monks will be based at the Yunnan temples for the next 20 years, the press release said.

However, while they are there, any money earned by the temples will be used solely for their upkeep and development, Yanlu said.

In a separate interview with Tuesday, Shi said Shaolin's advanced management system should be rolled out to more temples in China to help promote Zen Buddhism.

Dubbed the Shaolin CEO, Shi is a controversial figure who has challenged people's opinions of Buddhism and the role of the temple with his business-oriented management style.

His latest announcement has once again sparked controversy.

Sun Yuchun, a native of Henan, now living in Beijing, told China Daily Tuesday: "The monks at the Shaolin Temple no longer practice real kungfu, they just do it to make money."

Similarly, Lin Bo, a student at Nanjing University in Jiangsu province, said the Shaolin Temple should be "about culture, and not be run as a franchise store chain".

But not everyone thinks Shaolin's expansion plan is a bad thing.

An anonymous monk from the Buddhist Association of China said that under the right guidance, the Shaolin model could help improve the image of Buddhism.

There is a long tradition of senior monks going to smaller temples to help them spread Buddhist teachings, he said.

In 1994, under Yongxin's leadership, Shaolin became the first temple in the country to register its trademarks.

Shi, a former business administration student, is well aware of the commercial value of the "Shaolin" and "Shaolin Temple" brands.

The temple has also established institutes in Germany, Italy and Australia to promote Buddhism and martial arts.

In April, a company with close ties to the temple opened the online store Shaolin - Place of Joy, via e-commerce website

This is how AsiaNews reports it:

Shaolin gongfu skills franchised to four temples

ZHENGZHOU, CHINA: In the near future, gongfu pilgrims will no longer have to journey to the famed Shaolin Temple in China?s central Henan Province to study its renowned martial art.

Instead, the training is to be franchised and introduced in new locations in Yunnan Province, in the south of China, reported Xinhua.

Venerable Shi Yongxin, the abbot of the 1,500- year-old Shaolin Temple, has announced that his temple will introduce a "trusteeship" system at four Yunnan temples that involves the "integration of Zen Buddhism and martial arts". Each temple has considerable history behind it and is 2,000 years old.

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Shaolin monks will be dispatched to these sites as teachers. In exchange, all revenue earned through donations, tourism, and the sale of religious items will accrue to Shaolin Temple.

Just like with a commercial franchising agreement, there is a "contract period": The trusteeship period will be about 20 years.

Venerable Shi noted that the plan would also benefit the four temples.

"Our management model centres on culture, martial arts, education, charity and Zen Buddhism.

We hope these will help promote the popularity of the four temples," he was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

Venerable Shi has been called, sometimes unkindly, "the CEO monk" - on account of his willingness to run his famous temple as a business concern.

Under his regime, Shaolin Temple has ventured into movie production and gongfu shows.

Earlier this year, the temple was slammed for starting an online store to peddle a range of Shaolin-related products, including a book that supposedly revealed gongfu and medicinal secrets.

The latest commercialisation has drawn a flood of harsh criticism online.

"The temple has been degraded to a company," a netizen from Henan charged.

But Venerable Shi responded that the move was made "at the invitation of officials in Yunnan".
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