Their Kung Fu Is Good: Shaolin Monks at the Asia Society!

Do not pick a fight with these men: Monks from the Shaolin Temple, appearing at Asia Society New York on May 23, 2011. (Courtesy Shaolin Temple)

A world-famous cultural phenomenon arrives in New York this Monday, May 23, when monks from China's legendary Shaolin Temple take to the Asia Society stage.

Located in Dengfeng, in the Henan province in central China, the Shaolin Temple was founded in the fifth century CE and is revered by martial arts aficionados worldwide as the birthplace of Shaolin kung fu. It is also a Mahayana Buddhist monastery that UNESCO designated as a World Heritage Site in 2010.

On Monday, under the auspices of Shi Yong Xin, Abbot of the Shaolin Temple, masters will provide demonstrations of authentic Shaolin technique, along with explanations that place Shaolin martial arts in their original Buddhist context — an aspect of the discipline that has often been overlooked once kung fu became a global pop culture craze several decades ago.

A few tickets are still on sale for May 23rd. But if you can't make it to the event, the performance will also be a free live webcast on at from 7:00 to 9:00 pm ET. 

In the meantime, for a slightly declasse introduction to the monks of Shaolin, try the following video, in which two hulking gweilos, American mixed martial artist Jason Chambers and football pro Bill Duff, visit the Shaolin Temple.

Video: A visit to Shaolin (3 min., 43 sec.)

Finally, for more information on Shaolin, please visit

About the Author

Profile picture for user Jeff Tompkins
Jeff Tompkins is New York Content Manager at Asia Society.