Shaolin Temple's abbot Shi Yongxin is surrounded by reporters at the Eighth International Forum on Cultural Industries held in Beijing over the weekend.
China Daily, Jan. 10: The Shaolin Temple, one of China's most famous, is putting the overseas market at the top of its development plan, the temple's abbot, Shi Yongxin, said over the weekend.
Shi, the first Chinese monk to get a MBA degree, told the Eighth International Forum on Cultural Industries in Beijing on Saturday that the temple has established more than 40 cultural centers overseas, including in London and Berlin, The Beijing News reported on Sunday.
"Our warrior monks and Buddhist monks are spreading (Shaolin culture) in English, German and Spanish," he said.
The overseas centers, which provide martial arts training, workshops on Zen meditation and Chinese language courses, have been warmly received, according to Shi.
"Foreigners are more infatuated by Shaolin culture," Shi told China Daily on Sunday, adding that there has been ever-increasing demand for Shaolin kungfu training abroad.
Some Shaolin overseas centers are capable of handling a few thousand students at the same time, he said.
In the United States, for example, there are more than 130 martial arts clubs with some 400,000 students.
Regarding the question of future expansion, he said the temple will "follow the destiny", though the temple will definitely dispatch warrior monks to its overseas cultural centers to teach local fans authentic Chinese kungfu.
"Going out to foreign countries is not a problem for our monks, as they should always lead a wandering life," Shi said.
"It is a traditional way of practicing Buddhism."
The Shaolin Temple, established in AD 495 during the Northern Wei Dynasty (AD 386-534), is the principal temple for Chan (Zen) Buddhism in China and renowned for its unique practice of kungfu, including the martial arts boxing and qigong (Chinese breathing exercise).
Nestled in the Songshan Mountain of Central China's Henan province, the historic architectural complex of the Shaolin Temple was last year added to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list.
The monastery has become a popular tourist destination, which receives more than 2 million visitors every year, including 150,000 from overseas and 60,000 students who go there to learn at local martial arts schools.