Shaolin monks show prowess in Brooklyn

Shaolin monks show prowess in Brooklyn
Photo courtesy of Brooklyn College

Your kung fu is strong — now taste my Tiger Style!

Bona fide Buddhists hailing from the legendary Shaolin Temple are flying to Brooklyn College on Nov. 28, to shower audiences with displays of their furious kung fu.

“They are masters of kung fu,” said Shaolin Warrior interpreter Han Wanqiao. “They crush metal bars on their foreheads, they smash stone slabs on their belly, they lie on beds of nails, they thrust a spear on their throat, and bend the spears into a curve.”

Aside from absorbing blows that would maim or kill lesser men, the Shaolin masters will exhibit their fighting prowess, displaying styles ranging from the famous crane mimic to more esoteric forms of battle.

“They will demonstrate Chi kung, an inner strength exercise, allowing you to control your strength and make deadly movements,” Wanqiao said. “Also, they mimic animals; eagles, tigers, scorpions.”

The martial masters may be far from their home in the Pagoda Forest, but the monks do not allow their travels to infringe on their rigorous training — you can take the monk of the Shaolin Temple, but you cannot take the Shaolin Temple out of the monk.

“They are no longer in the Shaolin Temple, but they still have their tradition. They do meditation everyday. They practice martial arts intensively, and during the tour they don’t have much time, so they take 30 minutes before the show to warm up, leaping, jumping, stretching,” said Wanqiao.

As powerful as they are in battle, the Shaolin monks are not — despite popular misconceptions — invincible, according to Wanqiao.

“They can be killed by conventional weapons, they are not immortal,” he said. “They get the flu sometimes, like ordinary people.”

Shaolin Warriors at Brooklyn College [2900 Bedford Ave. between Gleenwood Road and Avenue I, (718) 951–5000, www.brooklyncenteronline.org]. Nov. 25, 3 pm. $30

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4514.