A Shaolin monk is a practitioner of the traditional Shaolin Kung Fu. He leads a saintly life that requires a high degree of discipline and self-restraint.
The art of Shaolin Kung Fu is one of the oldest and most popular forms of Wushu or Kung Fu. Although martial arts was already practiced widely in China for centuries, it became more significant with the arrival of Shaolin Kung Fu in 420-589 AD when Bodhidharma, an Buddhist monk from India came to China to introduce Chan Buddhism. He is considered the patriarch of this practice because he started the physical training of monks at Shaolin Monastery, which eventually led to the establishment of Shaolin Kung Fu.
Over time, Shaolin Kung Fu has played key roles in different parts of Chinese history including the rescue of the Tang emperor’s son Li Shimin by 13 warrior monks. Today, Shaolin Kung Fu is still practiced by a lot of monks in China and other parts of the world. Through meditation and martial art practice, these monks attain exceptional qualities and powerful physical attributes. Depending on the nature of training you get, being a Shaolin monk can take several years.
Learn about Shaolin Monks
Before you decide to be a Shaolin monk, you need to learn and research about the Shaolin way of life. The traditional lifestyle of Shaolin monks is entirely based on the rules and rituals that developed around 495 AD.
- Study about Shaolin monks and their lifestyle. There are several online resources that provide information on Shaolin temples and how the disciples are train.
- Join communities or online groups maintained by Chinese martial art enthusiasts and experts. There are several Kung Fu masters that can guide you in understanding the significance of becoming a Shaolin monk.
Understand the Purpose of Shaolin Kung Fu
A monk is someone who leads a spiritual life and believes in nonviolence. But in order to become a Shaolin monk, you need to learn Kung Fu and be a master in this art. Before you get carried away by the glory of this powerful martial art, you need to find the real purpose behind its practice.
- Find reading materials and videos on Shaolin Kung Fu. This can help you in getting a brief insight into this traditional martial art and how it can be perfected.
- Acknowledge the fact that Shaolin monks use Kung Fu as a medium for attaining physical and mental strength. They can use their skills for protection from enemies and not as a means for fighting.
Prepare Yourself to Embrace Buddhism
Buddhism is the basis of Chinese martial art. And when it comes to Shaolin practice, Buddhism plays a key role in shaping the characteristics and lifestyle of a practitioner.
- Every Shaolin monk has to be an ardent follower of Zen Buddhism. It is a version of Buddhism that gives more significance to meditation.
- In order to be a Shaolin monk, you need to believe and practice the principles of Buddhism. Note that, Shaolin preachers never ask their disciples to change their original religion but they only require them to follow the Buddhist way of life.
Follow the Principles of Shaolin Buddhism
A Shaolin monk should be a strict follower of Shaolin Buddhism and its principles. He should not only believe in them but also make bold changes in this lifestyle and habits to make the transformation truly effective.
- Shaolin Buddhism follows the principle of 4 noble truths that define the concept of desire and suffering. These values can help a Shaolin practitioner to be free from attachment and miseries.
- A monk’s life is all about renunciation. So be prepared to sacrifice the normal desires that attach us to the material life.
- A Shaolin monk should refrain from consuming meat and intoxicating substances like alcohol and tobacco.
Learn about Shaolin Schools
You can become a Shaolin monk only by attending a Shaolin school that preaches the Shaolin way of life and Shaolin Kung Fu. Once you are mentally prepare to adopt the Shaolin culture, you should explore the practical side of the process.
- Most of the popular Shaolin schools are located in Dengfeng which is a popular county-level city in China. Some schools have branches in different parts of the world.
- A Shaolin school trains the students in a traditional manner that was originally developed and followed by the Shaolin Monastery located on Mount Song.
Find a Suitable Shaolin Institute
Finding a good Shaolin school can be a challenging task if you are living outside China. Although there are various types of Kung Fu schools around the world, not all of them employ real Shaolin masters to train the students.
- Look for Shaolin schools that are run by Shaolin monks and masters. You can inquire with Shaolin students and trainers to get a brief idea about the nature of the training provided at various centers.
- Nowadays, Shaolin institutes have started demanded a considerable amount of fee from their students. You can compare the rates in association with their teaching reputation to find a suitable school.
- If you cannot find any good school in your country, you can consider the option of traveling to China to study at one of the many Shaolin centers situated in Dengfeng County.
Find a Reputed Shaolin Teacher
Before you join any Shaolin temple or institute, you need to investigate in detail the nature of the training provided. Your journey to become a monk can be easier if you have a great Shaolin teacher by your side.
- Only a teacher who is a Shaolin monk can reward his disciples with the title of a monk based on their years of learning, knowledge, and dedication.
- Mere completion of a Shaolin course or graduation program can’t entitle the disciples with the status of a monk. In order to be a monk, you need to convince your teacher about your merits and qualities.
Be a Devoted Disciple
In most of the traditional Shaolin schools, the training program is quite rigorous and strict. If you wish to become a real Shaolin monk, you need to be a devoted disciple right from the start.
- A Shaolin teacher would judge the abilities of his disciples based on their performance during the initial days. Accordingly, he may make changes to your training regimen.
- Most of the schools categorize the students into warrior monks and scholarly monks based on their level of dedication and interests. Warrior monks are offered advanced training in Shaolin Kung Fu.
Follow the Path of Renunciation
Joining a Shaolin school is just another milestone in your journey. However, if you are keen on being a monk, you need to closely observe the Buddhist way of life. This would entirely change your routine life.
- Only a strict disciple who can take the vow of celibacy can become a monk as he completes the training program. The title of a monk is rewarded by the trainer and it can take several years based on your performance.
- In order to be a monk, you need to give up all the desires that relate you to the material nature of life. You should adopt vegetarianism and never engage in hurting or killing any living creature.
Consider being a Lay Monk
Only a strict follower of Buddhism can become a Shaolin monk after he masters all the stages of martial arts and meditation. But if you are unable to lead a life of complete renunciation, you can still become a lay monk.
- Being a lay monk allows you to lead a married life and look for jobs outside your Shaolin temple. Many lay monks work as teachers in Kung Fu schools and training centers.
- Lay monks are allow to enjoy certain material pleasures like occasional smoking or drinking. Some of them even consume meat.
- By learning the art of meditation, you can prepare yourself to follow the strict regimen of a Shaolin temple. Shaolin students are required to spend several hours on perfecting their meditative powers.
Read books written by Shaolin masters and Buddhist monks to get a better insight into being a Shaolin monk.