American Shaolin Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of Iron Crotch: An Odyssey in the New China (Hardcover)
|Author: Matthew Polly|
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|Laced with humor and illuminated by cultural insight, this coming-of-age tale explores one young American's quest to become a kung fu master at China's legendary Shaolin Temple. 8-page photo insert.|
From the Publisher:
Bill Bryson meets Bruce Lee in this raucously funny story of one scrawny AmericanÂ's quest to become a kung fu master at ChinaÂ's legendary Shaolin Temple.
Growing up a ninety-pound weakling tormented by bullies in the schoolyards of Kansas, young Matthew Polly dreamed of one day journeying to the Shaolin Temple in China to become the toughest fighter in the world, like Caine in his favorite 1970s TV series, Kung Fu. While in college, Matthew decided the time had come to pursue this quixotic dream before it was too late. Much to the dismay of his parents, he dropped out of Princeton to spend two years training with the legendary sect of monks who invented kung fu and Zen Buddhism.
Expecting to find an isolated citadel populated by supernatural ascetics that heÂ'd seen in countless badly dubbed chop-socky flicks, Matthew instead discovered a tacky tourist trap run by Communist party hacks. But the dedicated monks still trained in the rigorous age-old fighting formsÂ?some even practicing the Â?iron kung fuÂ? discipline, in which intensive training can make various body parts virtually indestructible (even the crotch). As Matthew grew in his knowledge of China and kung fu skill, he would come to represent the Temple in challenge matches and international competitions, and ultimately the monks would accept their new American initiate as close to one of their own as any Westerner had ever become.
Laced with humor and illuminated by cultural insight, American Shaolin is an unforgettable coming-of-age tale of one young manÂ's journey into the ancient art of kung fuÂ?and a funny and poignant portrait of a rapidly changing China.
Matt Polly, a tall scrawny kid from Topeka, Kansas, dropped out of Princeton after three years of East Asian studies, and traveled to the famous Shaolin Temple in China to turn himself into a kung-fu master. His humorous memoir is less about the rigors and discipline of his martial arts training, and more about the surreal experience of living in China as the country slowly entered the globalized world.