Markets in everything the future of kung fu?

by on February 18, 2011 at 6:34 am in Economics, Sports, The Arts | Permalink

Today, however, temple officials seem more interested in building the Shaolin brand than in restoring its soul. Over the past decade Shi Yongxin, the 45-year-old abbot, has built an international business empire–including touring kung fu troupes, film and TV projects, an online store selling Shaolin-brand tea and soap–and franchised Shaolin temples abroad, including one planned in Australia that will be attached to a golf resort. Furthermore, many of the men manning the temple's numerous cash registers–men with shaved heads and wearing monks' robes–admit they're not monks but employees paid to look the part.

Over tea in his office at the temple, Yongxin calmly makes the case that all of these efforts further Buddhism.

As for some of the traditional styles, perhaps Baumol's cost disease is operating:

"There are no high kicks or acrobatics," he says. Such moves create vulnerable openings. "Shaolin kung fu is designed for combat, not to entertain audiences. It is hard to convince boys to spend many years learning something that won't make them wealthy or famous." He seems drained by the thought. "I worry that is how the traditional styles will be lost."

Here is much more, and for the pointer I thank The Browser.

Peter February 18, 2011 at 4:05 am

Sounds like the Fairtex kickboxing academy in Thailand. Fairtex originally was an extremely rigorous training camp for Thais and a few foreigners who were fully dedicated to fighting. Attendees lived in Spartan accommodations and spent at least 12 hours a day in brutal training. More recently, however, it became popular, a rather unorthodox tourist destination in fact, and now offers much more comfortable accommodations and significantly less intense training regimens.

franko February 18, 2011 at 5:32 am

ufc is the future for kungfu adherents, i suspect – plus they have to add other schools of fighting

txrider February 18, 2011 at 7:52 am

Not surprisingly, Maoist officials were uncomfortable with a religious organization teaching adherents to fight. As a result, traditional kung fu has been centered in Hong Kong for decades now. The transformation of the Shaolin Temple into a tourist destination is exactly in line with post-Mao Chi Com values, to get rich is glorious.

I don't think UFC is the future for kung fu adherents any more than the NFL is the future for a rugby player. Very similar to the outsider but to practitioners, totally different thing.

thomas sabo March 9, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Tyler has also failed to consider the Salad Spinner.

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