blog article - travel experience

Training with Shaolin Monks:
Embracing Discipline, Mindfulness, and Transformation

The ancient art of Shaolin Kung Fu is more than just a martial art; it is a way of life that encompasses discipline, mindfulness, and physical mastery. Our journey to train with the Shaolin Monks in China was one of the most profound and transformative experiences of our life. 

arrival at the shaolin temple

Located in the serene Shandong Province, Huigan Temple became our home for the week. While not as renowned as the Dengfeng Temple, Huigan Temple held an authentic charm and was the new training ground for our masters who had recently relocated. The temple’s tranquil surroundings and rich history set the stage for an immersive cultural and physical journey.

While Dengfeng Temple is the most famous Shaolin temple, our masters had recently relocated to Huigan Temple in Shandong Province. This move was driven by the desire for a quieter, more focused training environment away from the tourist crowds of Dengfeng. Huigan Temple provided a serene and authentic setting for our training, allowing us to immerse ourselves fully in the discipline and culture of Shaolin martial arts.

Known as one of the most demanding training regimens in the world, our time at the Shaolin Temple proved to be one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of our world travels. 

why we decided to train with shaolins in china?

Our decision to train with the Shaolin Monks in China stemmed from a desire to experience the authentic, traditional roots of Kung Fu. The Shaolin Monks are legendary for their unparalleled discipline, physical prowess, and deep spiritual practices. Training with them offered us a unique opportunity to push our limits and gain insights from masters who have dedicated their lives to the art of Kung Fu. We wanted to immerse ourselves in the rich cultural heritage of Shaolin martial arts and learn firsthand from the best.

Diogo and Isabela in a shaolin temple, china – photo by @wearecrazyenough

embrancing the shaolin life

Our daily routine began at 7 a.m. with temple duties and breakfast. The structured schedule was a vital part of the Shaolin lifestyle, emphasizing discipline and mindfulness. Each day consisted of two intense training sessions, each lasting three hours. The mornings were dedicated to conditioning and forms, while the afternoons focused on applications and sparring.

We were privileged to train under Shifu Shi Yanpeng, a 34th Generation Shaolin Warrior Monk and disciple of Venerable Abbot Shi Yongxin. His expertise and dedication were evident in every lesson. Shifu Shi Yanpeng’s rigorous training pushed us to our limits, but his guidance and encouragement kept us motivated.

Beyond physical training, we immersed ourselves in Chinese culture and philosophy. We attended classes on Chinese language and Buddhism, which deepened our understanding of the cultural context behind Shaolin martial arts. These sessions enriched our experience, offering insights into the philosophical foundations that underpin Kung Fu practice.

Diogo with shaolin shifu in china – photo by @wearecrazyenough

Isabela in a hard qigong training – photo by @wearecrazyenough

Lessons in Mindfulness
and Discipline

One of the most valuable lessons we learned from the Shaolin Monks was the importance of mindfulness. Each movement, each breath, was performed with complete awareness. This mindfulness extended beyond the training sessions to every aspect of daily life, from eating to walking. The monks taught us that true mastery begins with the mind, and only through mental discipline can one achieve physical excellence.

Discipline was another cornerstone of the Shaolin training. The monks adhered to a strict schedule, and there were no shortcuts or easy paths. Every skill had to be earned through hard work and perseverance. This discipline was not just about physical training; it was about cultivating a strong and resilient spirit.

the power of community

One of the most inspiring aspects of our journey was the sense of community among the trainees. People from all over the world came to Huigan Temple, each with a unique story and a shared goal of pushing their boundaries. The camaraderie and mutual support among the group created a powerful environment of encouragement and resilience.

Diogo with Shaolin Shifu Shi Yanpeng – photo by @wearecrazyenough

Diogo practing sanda with Shaolin Shifu Shi Yanpeng – photo by @wearecrazyenough

 Shaolin Shifu explaining Kung Fu forms techniques – photo by @wearecrazyenough

Exploring different Kung Fu Styles

Some of the styles we learned in China with Shaolin Monks:

  • Sanda: This Chinese kickboxing style combines traditional Kung Fu with modern combat techniques. Sanda includes powerful strikes, kicks, and grappling moves, making it a comprehensive martial art. Training in Sanda was both physically demanding and mentally challenging, requiring precision and agility.
  • Hard Qigong: This aspect of training focused on building physical and mental endurance. Hard Qigong exercises included striking hard objects, breath control, and meditative practices to cultivate inner strength and resilience. The monks’ mastery of Hard Qigong was a testament to their incredible dedication and discipline.
  • Shaolin Forms: We practiced traditional Shaolin forms, which are a series of choreographed movements that teach balance, flexibility, and coordination. Each form has its unique sequence and rhythm, helping us improve our physical control and mental focus.

the shaolin temple we trained in china  – photo by @wearecrazyenough

another view of the shaolin temple we trained in china  – photo by @wearecrazyenough

Men and women stayed in separate rooms, divided by sex – photo by @wearecrazyenough

the stairs we climbed everyday in the beginning of each training to do the warm up, china – photo by @wearecrazyenough

one experience of a life time

Our  time with the Shaolin Monks was a transformative journey that pushed us beyond our physical and mental limits. It was a humbling experience that taught us the value of discipline, mindfulness, and the power of a supportive community. The lessons we learned at the Shaolin Temple continue to influence our life and our approach to challenges.

As we left the temple and returned to our travels, we carried with us a newfound sense of purpose and clarity. Training with the Shaolin Monks was more than an adventure; it was a journey into the depths of human potential and the extraordinary power of the mind.

For anyone seeking a transformative journey that challenges both the body and the mind, we wholeheartedly recommend immersing yourself in the world of Shaolin Kung Fu. It is an experience that will stay with you forever, shaping your path in ways you never imagined.

Thank you for reading about our journey. Stay tuned for more stories and adventures from our travels around the world.

diogo and isabela

we are crazy enough

last day cerimony with our shifus – photo by @wearecrazyenough

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