Wing Chun Blog - Sifu Linda
Roots of Wing Chun Tour
Fuzhou - Southern China - Putian Shaolin Temple
November, December 2015
The third stop on our Journey is Fuzhou in Southern China, population 2,124 million.
Our Motel is very spacious and lush, it has huge windows that overlook a beautiful lake. It has a very romantic arched walking bridge that leads onto a small lush island with traditional pagoda type buildings. Very alluring. There are masses of people everywhere, the streets are raging.
We enjoy a group meal at a Thai restaurant. Again the meal was fabulous. Then head off to the 3 lanes and 5 alleys, a very ancient part of town that's been around for 6oo years.
The buildings are made of dark red wood that are covered in the most intricate carvings and the lanterns and lighting down the laneways make you feel like your back in time.
We are up at 6am the next morning for our spiritual journey to the Putian Southern Shaolin temple, temperature is going to be 23 degrees and high humidity.
Our guide explains that Fuzhou city has two main rivers; one in the South and one in the North. The South river is the White Dragon and the North river is the Black Dragon. These two rivers surround the city and keep it safe.
It takes about two hours to reach Putian, with its population of around 3 million.
We pass under the 'Shaolin Gate' and drive down Shaolin Road before ascending up the mountain to the Temple. There is an air of anticipation, we were all very excited to be there.
As we climb the mountain we enter into the low hanging clouds, it's very dense and the visual is down to about 6 meters in front of the van. We are 500 meters up and surrounded by dense lush forest, then the road opens up and the Temple Grounds suddenly appear.
Wow, surrounded in mist it looks so magical.
There are red balloons, lanterns and flyers hanging from tall poles, with a bright orange carpet laid out on the walk way. Through the mist the colours really brighten the place up and add even more of an air of mystic. Apparently they were holding 'The Silk Road Buddhist Convention'.
Our guide walks us through the Temple buildings and orates the history for us.
The Putian Temple was built during the Tong Dynasty after 13 Shaolin staffed monks saved the future Emperor Taizong in 621AD after he had been captured by a warlord.
After this episode, the Emperor arranged for 3 of the 13 monks to gather a force of 500 martial monks to wipe out the pirates that had been plaguing the Fukien/Fujian Province coastline.
After the pirates had been subdued and with the emperor's permission, some of the Monks stayed and set up Temples in the Fukien/ Fujian Province.
The temple was totally destroyed around two hundred years ago and after rediscovering the site in the mid 1980s, reconstruction began in the early 90s.
The types of martial arts practised at the Temple are the Five Ancestor Crane Sun Fist, Five Zhue Yang Quan/Fujian White Crane and Hung Kuen.
The Chinese Government announced that this Temple is the site of the original Temple.
We admire the great statues of 'The Guardians' of the East and West which are as ferocious as ever with their wide eyes and warrior stare. Quite a contrast to the calm peaceful faces of the Buddhist statues; they are huge covered in gold plate with beautifully coloured decorative clothing.
The sacred rooms are filled with the smell of incense, and the most ornate rosewood furniture pieces that have been intricately carved into beautiful patterns and designs.
It is always a thrill to do some training at the Temples so we find a spot out of the way to practice some Wing Chun forms and drills.
The Chinese love their Kung Fu heritage and it did not take long before we had drawn quite a crowd observing and taking photo's.
Its then that a monk walked past, observed our practise and invited us to join the Convention.
We are introduced to the Head Abbot from Sydney, Australia, who of course speaks English.
What a bonus, can't believe we have an Aussie Monk here. What are the chances.
We get a group photo with the Sydney Abbot, the paparazzi are going crazy, snapping photo's left and right. It's like we are movie stars. We enter the conference room and the media inside go ballistic with photo's, it's quite embarrassing as the conference is in full swing.
We are invited to the vegetarian lunch but explain that we must go as we are on a tight schedule. Yin Yan, the head Abbot of the Shaolin Temple gets a group photo with us and organises a Shaolin performance by the young monks for us before we leave.
We are thrilled.
The Sydney Abbot takes us down to the main Temple, a crowd started to gather around the square awaiting the Shaolin performance. About 25 monks were preparing to perform for us.
In typical Shaolin form they are loud, strong, energetic, flexible and dynamic. They do a couple of group forms and one does a solo form.
The head abbot of Sydney asked whether one of us would like to do a performance.
Wow I could not believe my ears, a once in a lifetime chance was being offered. So I presented myself up to perform a shorter version of Biu Gee. I felt very honoured and humbled, to perform in front of the Head Abbot and the Monks of Shaolin.
With my adrenalin pumping and a huge crowd watching I endeavoured to give one of my best performances. When I finished I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. It would have to have been the highlight of my trip.
it still blows my mind when I say that I have performed at the Shaolin Temple.
We bid our farewells and head back to Fuzhou.
Wow what a day, something always unexpected happens on our Wing Chun tours.
That surprise was amazing.
The rest of the trip is tourism with our next stop being Shanghai, then finishing in Beijing before returning to Melbourne Australia.