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BOOK OF THE MONTH
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American Shaolin
Matthew Polly

Classification : Travel & Adventure
Pub Date : Apr 05, 2007
Imprint : Abacus
Page Extent : 384
Binding : PB
ISBN : 9780349120157
Price : 850

About the book

Matthew Polly was your typical 98-pound weakling with sand kicked in his face - until he decided to learn to kick back. Dropping out of university he travelled to China to study at the granddaddy of all Chinese martial arts monasteries: the Shaolin Temple the birthplace of both Zen Buddhism and kungfu.

But as Confucius might have said path to becoming kung fu master very difficult. For one thing no one knew where exactly the Shaolin Temple was. And asking for directions proved problematic - after three years spent learning Mandarin in college Matthew couldn't understand a word outside the classroom. He finally found the Shaolin village hidden away between five mountain peaks. But the hard part was yet to come. The Chinese term for tough training is chi ku (eating bitter) - and Matthew quickly leaned to appreciate the phrase. By the end of the second day of training his knees were in agony and he was walking like the dead - and that was just the induction.

American Shaolin is the hilarious story of Matthew's remarkable two-year travel odyssey - a tale of gruelling training forbidden romance and an eye-watering insight into the art of 'iron-crotch' kungfu.

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Read Review   Want to write a review?
A lively, humorous, and thought-provoking memoir>
Smoothly written . . . Polly has a good eye for characters and introduces the reader to a Finnish messiah, a practitioner of "iron crotch" kung fu, and his nagging girlfriend. We get the inside dope on Chinese dating, Chinese drinking games and a medical system apparently modelled on the Spanish Inquisition>
Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li and David Carradine all played Shaolin Monks, but Matthew Polly actually lived it. In American Shaolin, he enters China's most famous temple, the birthplace of zen and martial arts, and uncovers unique insights on religion,>
A sensibility more alien to my own than Matthew Polly's is hard to imagine. I consider foreign cultures to be really . . . foreign. I don't spiritually quest; I go to church. As for the martial arts, I own a gun. But I loved AMERICAN SHAOLIN. Reading it was like being abducted by an alien -- a brilliant, funny, and hospitable alien who took me to another universe of sensibility. There I enjoyed myself immensely>
     
Matthew Polly
Matthew Polly is an award-winning travel writer. A Princeton University graduate and Rhodes Scholar his work has appeared Esquire Playboy The Nation and Slate. This is his first book.