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At the Shaolin Temple in China, every Buddhist warrior monks must face a test that will change the course of his life forever. Discover just what people do for faith in some of the most stunning sacred places on Earth…


The Shaolin Temple became world famous as the home of kung fu after being discovered by Hollywood more than 50 years ago. Four hundred monks live and study on the temple grounds, and one quarter of them are warrior monks.

Final exam for Shaolin Temple warrior monk

For the warrior monks, kung fu is not just a martial art, it’s a spiritual practice. To pass the final test, aspirants must prove themselves before a panel of senior monks in both kung fu and Buddhist teachings. Those who fail the text must wait at least three years to retake the test.


Believed to have been founded more than 1500 years ago, the Shaolin Temple remains the main monastery of the Shaolin school of Buddhism and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with its Pagoda Forest.

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This is the first picture I took inside of the Shaolin Temple. We had arrived late the night before with some rain…I walked out my room and I was in a small courtyard towards the front of the complex. I remember being awe struck…I’ve wanted to train there for 17 years and I had finally made it. My Sifu at the time had passed away a few days before. I have him to think for getting me back to my training and taking me to China to visit Shaolin…He got me there…even though he wasn’t there with me in that moment…he was…he was a stubborn man and I learned a lot from him. And he set a standard for my training that I’m thankful for. I miss Sifu Timmer often but I’m also thankful for the journey I’ve had that’s lead to my kung fu family I have now. I can’t believe it’s been 2 years since he passed and I was at in Shaolin. Amituofo. I just have to train harder. . . #shaolin #shaolintemple #shaolinkungfu #amituofo #chinesemartialarts #cma #kungfu #sifu #travel #china #henan #henanprovence #martialarts #honor #remember #kungfufamily

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Visiting the temple, let alone joining, requires a bit of intestinal fortitude — especially for foreigners traveling in China for the first time. After flying to Luoyang, tourists looking for the most economical and culturally immersive means of transport to the temple can grab a bus from Luoyang Long-distance Station for the scenic 80-kilometer trip through the Songshan mountain range.