|Members of United Studios of Self Defense (USSD) from the United States visit the Shaolin monks at the Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng, central China's Henan Province July 3, 2011. A group of 138 members of USSD visited the Shaolin Temple, the birthplace of modern martial arts and performed with Shaolin monks on Sunday. [Li Bo/Xinhua]
A total of 138 martial art practitioners from the United States and Canada, on a pilgrimage to the birthplace of Chinese Kung Fu, arrived at the famed Shaolin Temple in central China's Henan Province and showed their skills Sunday.
They performed nine-section whip, falchion-wielding, tiger boxing and crane boxing and their performance was applauded by on-looking tourists and Shaolin Temple monks. Warriors monks of the temple also showed their Kung fu skills.
The pilgrimage group was organized by the United Studio of Self Defence (USSD), a franchise kung fu training center that has hundreds of thousands of registered members in the U.S..
Shaolin Temple abbot, Shi Yongxin, told the 138 pilgrims that the temple has been and will continue to be an active proponent of the cultural exchanges on martial arts.
Taking disciples of different cultural background is conducive to the promotion of the Shaolin culture, Shi said.
The Shaolin Temple, built more than 1,500 years ago during the Wei and Jin Dynasties, is famous for Buddhist teaching and Chinese martial arts, particularly Shaolin kungfu.
Shi said the temple itself was created as a result of a cultural exchange tour of a famous Indian monk in the 5th century and that in later history Shaolin had been facilitating the exchanges of Kung Fu cultures in China and beyond.
Shi also expressed the hope that foreign practitioners will carry on the Shaolin culture and make friends with Chinese people.
"It's an incredible honor to perform for the abbot and other people here in the temple," said Jody Neal, an USSD member from California, who said he had been a big fan of Shaolin Kung Fu after getting to know it in some TV shows 20 years ago.
On behalf of the temple, Abbot Shi also awarded certificates to USSD Kung Fu practitioners to recognize their martial arts skills.