Amituofu Reddit,

I am Shifu Hengxin, 35th Generation Shaolin Disciple. I began studying Shaolin kung fu at the Songshan Shaolin Monastery in Henan, China when I was young and have traveled the world with the Shaolin Monk Delegation Tours to spread the culture of Shaolin and the philosophy of Chan Buddhism. I was asked to move to the United States to spread Shaolin teachings, and now operate a martial arts school teaching kung fu and qigong in New York City.

My passion is spreading love for the martial arts and Shaolin philosophy while passing on my knowledge to my students. I want to invite Reddit to ask their questions about Shaolin, martial arts, Buddhism and learning/teaching kung fu and qigong. I am here with my students to help me answer questions for a couple hours!

If you are in New York City, we invite you to visit the Shaolin Kung Fu Training Center:

Or participate in our free kung fu seminar Introduction to Shaolin Kung Fu this Saturday! Come train with us!:

My Proof:

Picture for Reddit:

and the AMA announcement on my school's website:

Some YouTube videos to watch:

Our short documentary series with Modern Mythology (



Shifu Hengxin performing Luohan Quan:

My students performing in New York City:

Comments: 104 • Responses: 22  • Date: 

OneSingleMonad16 karma

  1. How would you explain the interaction between the peaceful practice and study of Buddhism and the martial fighting style of Kung Fu? I have always viewed it as one learns the martial art, not to fight, but so that he will not have to fight.

  2. Is push hands real? I've seen lots of videos of much older masters throwing 3, 4, or 5 young men around like they were paper blowing in the wind. I want to believe, but it just looks so fake.

Thank you, I have the utmost respect for the dedication of you and your brothers.

Shifu_Hengxin27 karma

  1. The peace of Buddhism and its philosophy relates to kung fu being used to strengthen the body for long hours of mediation. But kung fu was also used for good, for self defense during war and to protect the king. The practical side can be used in that way, like you say, not to fight. It is good for self control and for promoting peace. This is important for martial artists, to use their judgement.

  2. Push hands is not practiced in the Shaolin temple. It is a real technique, but it can be exaggerated in the movies!

StudentJoseph13 karma


Could you please explain what Bodhidharma meant when he said "this mind is the Buddha," and also the concept of "transmission without words"?

Thank you, Amituofo,


Shifu_Hengxin22 karma

Basically, one of the disciples of the Buddha was looking at the Buddha. But Buddha did not say a word to him. Only had a smile. The disciple understood the idea of chan meditation from that. This is pure wisdom. Pure understanding.

Understanding without saying so much.

Drums_Guns_Rum10 karma

Greetings! Thank you for coming to Reddit.

For my clarification, what do you mean by 35th Generation? I thought that monks like yourself didn't have children, but I guess I've never really looked into it.

What is the most extreme, or just plain interesting Shaolin technique you can do?

Shifu_Hengxin24 karma

35th Generation refers to the lineage of the disciples from their teachers (shifus). My teachers were the 34th generation. It is not about children. Passing on kung fu from master to disciple.

The most interesting technique to me is the "Ground Fighting Techniques" - a form that practices a lot of jumps, sweeps and flips.

Drums_Guns_Rum7 karma

Following up on that, do you know the full lineage of your teachers by name, and the founder?

Thank you for your answers today.

Shifu_Hengxin14 karma

There is extensive poetry about the full lineage all the way back to the origins from Fuju, the creator of the 70 generation system -- he named all the generations. I am "Heng" for example. My masters were "Yan". The next generation will be "Miao".

I will try to translate it and post it here.

Gzopel6 karma

what happens after the 70th generation?

Shifu_Hengxin8 karma

Currently there are no names for beyond the 70th. The different master/disciple lines can grow at different rates but no one has reached 70th yet!

dmarxd10 karma

What would be your typical day/week schedule while conducting your training?

Shifu_Hengxin13 karma

When I was in the temple, we would wake up very early and train for some hours. A lot of exercises like running up the mountain and a lot of leg work and strength training. A lot of basics! 300 stair jumps, for example. It's not very fancy! Hopping up the hills, crawl down stairs.

After breakfast, we would do basics like punches, kicks and jumps. Then we would do the traditional forms. Then work with weapons -- swords, staff. Everyone practices individual weapons.

At the end, back to exercises. Each segment is about 3 hours!

dmarxd7 karma

Wow the dedication that requires is amazing! As a follow up question if I may, how did you manage to keep motivated to do this sort of training every day?

Shifu_Hengxin12 karma

Of course it is very hard work. You have to really enjoy the art and enjoy the challenge. If you want something, you work hard for it. That's some people's nature.

SergeoRosas9 karma

What's one thing that most people thing about Shaolin philosophy , but is actually incorrect ?

Shifu_Hengxin14 karma

Usually, everyone believes Shaolin is about the martial art aspect. But actually, the temple is a Chan Buddhism monastery.

Troomaan7 karma

When will we see Northern Shaolin/Wu Shu in MMA?

Shifu_Hengxin9 karma

It is really hard to predict. A lot of schools do different things, so the styles can be very different. We cannot predict how the styles will evolve or who will want to try it and how they will use it.

Troomaan3 karma

Sir, I thank you for your answer and I have a follow up question. I go to several Chinese Martial Arts tournaments each year. I have noticed a sharp decline in the number of competitors that participate in any type of sparring (point, continuous, Sanda/San Shou). Further, the gentleman in charge of the circuit I go to has stated that the amount of sparring competitors has been on a decline. What do you think is the cause of this trend? Do you think this trend is beneficial to Chinese Martial Arts or detrimental?

Shifu_Hengxin10 karma

Martial arts does focus on the art and the fitness. The self defense and fighting is just a part of it. It is hard to answer for other schools and what they decide to teach.

I think a lot of schools are simply focusing on the fitness and the art. Now that the times have changed, the self defense aspect has lower needs in the real world. Meanwhile, those who are interested in the fighting are very attracted to different schools. Like MMA schools. This is just what I think. It is hard to say why for each school. But the culture still has both sides.

uberlad7 karma


Shifu_Hengxin28 karma

Try to make the right decisions. Always try hard. Never give up. It sounds simple but it is so hard to do.

ketchup_packet5 karma

What's it like for you living in nyc?

Shifu_Hengxin9 karma

I really enjoy living in nyc. I can see and experience different cultures, which is really important to me. And I expose them to my culture. There are a lot of opportunities for people.

When I first saw New York I was amazed. It is a great city even though I've been to a lot now.

nicodomeus4 karma

I thought Shaolin warriors did not use computers?

Shifu_Hengxin28 karma

I think we have to follow the society we are living in. A long time ago no one had computers and now everyone uses them. Shaolin is all about adapting to new environments.

jcm2themax4 karma

  1. How many forms of Kung Fu do you currently know?
  2. Have you trained other westernized styles like boxing, fencing, etc.?
  3. If you have weapons training, what is your favorite to use?
  4. What is your favorite food to eat after a day chocked full of training?

Shifu_Hengxin9 karma

Shaolin kung fu is a very big system. In its history no one has learned everything. I am only learning Shaolin kung fu.

My favorite weapon is the staff. It looks simple but is actually very difficult. And it has a lot of different techniques to master. It is one of the most famous weapons of the Shaolin temple.

In the temple, we ate a lot of rice. My favorite then was actually eating Chinese bread -- it is like a fluffy steam bun. I still like them!

Advils_Devocate3 karma

I am interested in learning about all of these disciplines/philosophies (much more than could be answered in a forum) so if I traveled to China, how accepting would a monastery be of a foreigner such as myself (assuming I know the language and was open-minded).

Some questions that maybe could be answered here; if there is no 'self' then what is to stop people from doing wrong and just blaming it on their form or mental processes?

to expand on that thought, where does morality (self-questioning & God-questioning as well) fit in to the philosophy of 'no self'?

To add, I believe morality, the fact that we can question our own existence and the existence of God(s) to lend credence to the fact/belief that we all contain a soul. I'm aware of how the aggregates work together and one can fool the other (perception can affect our feelings or our judgements) but nothing in the aggregates seems to suggest why the question of God and our own existence has been an age-old thought. "I think therefore I am", if you will, because we can question our own existence we actually do exist.

Shifu_Hengxin6 karma

Other people can go study in China. In the monastery, many people start when they are very young so they will be less accepting. The monastery is for the monks, not necessarily for exploring the philosophy. It is not really about foreigners or Chinese, but about those who want to live there for the religion. But the monks will answer questions you have - it is part of their service. And other places to study certainly be very accepting.

EatingSandwiches13 karma

What is your favorite Tofu dish?

Shifu_Hengxin17 karma

Ma Po Tofu. Nice and spicy!

leizhu2 karma

Amituofu Shifu. Of the 18 commonly taught Shaolin forms, do you have a favorite one? If so, which one and why?

Shifu_Hengxin9 karma

Xiao hong quan is my favorite. It is also called "Youth Grand Form". It is the most fundamental form that every generation of Shaolin disciples must master. It's nickname is "Mother of the Forms"

Gzopel2 karma

Woah, never thought I would have this opportunity, I've seen lots of videos and documentaries about some crazy kung fu training techniques, but never heard what kind of monastic practices are carried on a Shaolin Monastery, I guess it must be different in some way to ones of a regular (non-martial) Chan Monastery.

Shifu_Hengxin5 karma

The monks pray and give service in the morning and again in the afternoon. Service is in the monastery is a daily event that involves praying and chanting. They offer incense and there are instruments being played (the wooden fish, for example).

Monks meditate frequently and also will answer people's questions and host events (meditation events).

Thac02 karma

Amituofo Shifu, Besides the study martial arts what is your practice and what are the general practices found most commonly in your lineage?

Shifu_Hengxin5 karma

Some of my brothers do not do martial arts. They study for the religious aspects at the monastery.

Ryukane2 karma

Amituofu, Sifu. What are the origins of qigong? And how did it transform into those superhuman feats? Or is that just a natural progression of practicing this technique? Thank you!

Shifu_Hengxin8 karma

Shaolin Qigong is from Bodhidharma. It was a method that was brought to the temple for health purposes. It is to help the practice of meditation. The superhuman feats is not the important part. The goals of qigong are to focus on improving the body and strengthening the mind.

AnarchyBurger1011 karma

This might amuse you, maybe not.

But for an actual question, Qigong is interesting in that it seems a relatively easy to learn exercises that can help people with neurologic problems maintain balance and generally get around better. Plus you can learn it with less risk of falling over and destroying something, such as furniture, unlucky house pets, or yourself. :D

Then again, I keep hearing these things about people who get into it that just simply go off the deep end. So is this just a general martial arts thing? Some people get a bit too into it and lose perspective, or does it actually drive people insane?

Shifu_Hengxin6 karma

Qigong is about developing a healthy lifestyle. It is a low impact system for everyone like you say. The Shaolin Qigong specifically is a set of physical exercises. The other parts of qigong some people have heard of is more mental than physical, so we have to be careful about which we are talking about. There are stories of people teaching qigong very differently and it can maybe promote certain behavior. Belief can be very strong. I don't think it is about martial arts, this kind of thing can apply to everything.

TheWindBeganToHowl1 karma

What did you think of the TV show "Kung Fu"? Was the scene where when he left he had to pick up a boiling pot leaving tattoos on his arms based on anything real?

Shifu_Hengxin8 karma

I did not watch the TV show. But I have never seen something like that in the monastery. That is something for the movies.