Credo: Shi Yan Fen
Trainee Shaolin monk, 17
Sunday 09 November 2008
I wanted to become a Shaolin monk as I was enamoured with kung fu – we are the only monks in China who practise it.
Growing up in the Shaolin monastery was hard, because I was only seven years old when I had to leave my family. It was a big change, but I am used to it now.
Buddhism is a very flexible religion. I can leave at any time if I want to start a family or run my own business.
Training to develop your 'Qigong' – your inner air – is important. It's something we use a lot when performing. When you see one of us hit on the head with a sharp or heavy object, you may think it's a trick, but it's not. The power of the mind stops the pain and the qi absorbs the blow.
The infiltration of kung fu into Western culture is a good thing, even in films such as Kung Fu Panda, as it introduces people to Chinese culture. But as a monk, the most important thing about kung fu is that it helps with my spiritual training.
I do not get nervous before a show because the power of qi allows me to believe I am back in the temple.
Kung fu makes you calm, but I would use my skills to defend myself if I had to.
My parents, who run a factory, are proud of my decision to become a monk. I'm the first in my family to go down that path. Though the temple is in the same province as my home town, I see my family only once a year, as I need to focus on my training.
I would probably be attending university and would study to be a teacher, if I wasn't training to be a monk.
It's very exciting to come into contact with different cultures. The food and customs are so different, but it's a challenge I enjoy. I loved Oxford: the old buildings make it look like a time capsule, and I recognised the Oxford University library from the Harry Potter films. But it's hard to be away from home.
The Shaolin Monks are at the Hackney Empire, London E8, until 22 November, www.shaolinwheeloflife.com
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 3 Antonio Martin shooting: Mayor says there should be 'no comparison' to Ferguson
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...
£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...