July 1, Dengfeng
On the day after we had visited the Shaolin Temple at Songshan, we arose, ate breakfast and piled back on the bus for the 2-hour ride back to Luoyang. We had spent the night in Dengfeng, which is the closest town with “western hotel accommodations” to the temple, about 10 miles away. We traveled back through farmland until we arrived at the small village that has grown up around the Shaolin temple.
We were coming in through the east side of the town which was a different way than we had arrived the day before. On the east side there is a small park with a huge statue of a Shaolin monk in the center. I had not noticed it on our way out the day before, but it is quite an impressive sight. I was gawking at it as our bus rolled by, and by the time I had thought to reach for my camera it was too late. Our bus followed the road curving out of town toward the north as we headed for Luoyang.
Our group was in 2 buses due to the large size (44) and fortunately, people on the other bus had the good sense to tell their driver to stop at the monument for a closer look. After our driver realized that the other bus had stopped, he pulled over and headed back so that we could get a look at the statue. We drove up and parked on the backside of the statue. I stepped out and began walking around the perimeter of the small park, marveling at the statue as I gained a better perspective of it.
The statue was mounted on a large rock about 7 meters high. The sculpture was about another 7 meters high so that people who walked to the base of the monument were dwarfed. The monk stood solidly on that rock facing east. He was dressed in one of the traditional Shaolin uniforms which crosses over in the front (like our uniform tops) and is held with a belt around the waist. It had large open sleeves that extended only to the elbow. Pants extended a short way past the knees giving way to bare feet which were anchored to the rock. The monk stood erect with his hands in the Shaolin salute. His face was peaceful yet serious and had an intensity that captured and held your attention.
As I walked, I had been glancing down enough to keep from tripping on things and running into people. I was approaching Grandmaster Sin who was staring up at the statue in reverence. As I got closer he spoke, “Chris, look at the power that the artist put into this statue. His legs are thick and rooted like nothing could move him.”
I stopped walking and tried to more intently observe the sculpture. Grandmaster Sin spoke again, “You can see it in his forearms, too. Look at the muscles, their definition and strength. The feeling of raw power and control the artist conveyed in this is really amazing.”
I studied the monk’s hands and arms which extended out from his sleeves. They looked like thick tree stumps that could shatter granite with a single punch. His legs were solid and centuries of training were depicted in this monument to the Shaolin monks. The facial expression punctuated the feelings portrayed by the rest of the sculpture – calm and contemplative, but able to explode in a torrent of destruction if necessary.
Standing there looking at this monument with Song Mountains in the background was one of the many magical moments of this trip. The few words from Grandmaster Sin and the impact of the statue caused me to reflect back on my own Shaolin training. These moments and their captured memories serve as inspiration when I am training, giving me motivation and energy as I continue the study of Shaolin-Do.
3rd degree Black Belt