Sanjini is an actress and writer
ACTION FILM "EYE OF THE EMPRESS"
On 2 July 2013, actress Sanjini descended into the heart of China at the historic Shaolin Temple. The Shaolin Temple of China is located on Mount Song near Denfeng in the Henan Province. The temple is led by the 33rd Abbot Shi Yongxin.The monastery was founded in the fifth century and is famous for its association with Chinese martial arts and in particular, Shaolin Kung Fu.
For 1500 years, the Shaolin monastery has been destroyed and rebuilt many times. The first Shaolin Monastery Abbot was Batuo who came to China from India in 464 AD to spread Buddhist teachings. The Shaolin Temple was built by Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Wei Dynasty in 477 AD.
Perhaps the best known story of the Temple’s destruction was when it was destroyed by the Qing government in the 1600’s or 1700’s. This destruction supposedly helped spread Shaolin Martial Arts through China by the means of five fugitive monks.
Today, surrounding the Shaolin Temple are dozens of kung fu schools with thousands of young boys who practice kung fu every day. They jog early in the mornings, do cartwheels and other drills and train their bodies in every way to become Shaolin Kung Fu experts.
I arrived at the hotel in Denfeng at 10.00 pm on 2 July 2013. I was told to rush to my room and change into my gi (karate uniform). We were then driven to the Shaolin Temple and were in a state of nervous anticipation. We arrived at the Shaolin Temple at 11.00 pm and I got to see glimpses of it in the dark with a few lights that were lit.
My black belt test began in a large hall that felt like an oven of sweltering heat. A large part my test also took place in a dark court yard outside where it was very quiet. We did katas and pinans of our choice in the pitch dark in front of the other students in my group. I did much better than the ten to fifteen students in my group. I had practiced my forms at my gym in Vancouver almost every day for four months. My dojo in Vancouver closed ten months ago so I had no choice but to practice by myself.
We also had to meditate a few times in the dark while our test instructor talked to us about being humble. I had waited for such a long time to get to this moment – after spending many years of ups-and- downs with my martial arts training, being taught by numerous teachers (over 24) and being involved in the political mayhem surrounding my school (United Studios of Self Defense).
Usually black belt tests are much longer but because we were travelling for a long time that day and we were tired, the test ended at 2.00 am. We had to wake up a few hours later and be back on the bus at 6.00 am because we had to be at the Shaolin Temple.
On 3 July 2013, we were at the Shaolin Temple and the ceremony started at 8.00 am. Abbot Shi Yongxin led the ceremony and welcomed our school and all the students (200 plus) to the Shaolin Temple. Then the Shaolin Monks performed a show for us demonstrating their spectacular acrobatic and martial arts skills. Their magnificent martial arts skills made me feel like I knew nothing in comparison. The warrior monks performed different animal forms (praying mantis, drunken dragon, snake, etc.), they also performed with different weapons (swords, bo staff, ropes, etc.) and they showed their strength (push-ups and hand-stands with two fingers) and limberness (crazy contortions).
We were then handed our certificates with the Abbot Shi Yongxin present to congratulate us. After I received my Shodan Ist Degree Black Belt Certificate, I was interviewed by China’s news station CCTV. I answered a few questions about the thrilling experience of being in China with its long history of Shaolin Kung Fu and being able to test at the Shaolin Temple. I also explained the importance of Shaolin Kung Fu in my life and worldwide.
For many people, Shaolin Kung Fu/Kempo improves your health, is good exercise, helps with focus and concentration, helps discipline children, gives you a sense of inner and outer confidence, increases chi energy or power, increases strength and flexibility, aids in self defense, etc. For me personally, I like martial arts because keeps me balanced physically, mentally and spiritually. Shaolin Kung Fu/Kempo is a sport and an art form and I especially like the art of it. That is why it is called “Martial Arts”. It gives me an added skill as an actress so I am more interested in the aesthetics of how I look while performing Shaolin Kung Fu/Kempo and especially when playing a character such an action heroine.
Earlier this year, I shot an action film called “Eye of the Empress”. I play an action heroine who fights three henchmen and has a showdown with a Mexican Narco King. You can view my film at:
After completing the black belt test, I got the opportunity to train with the Shaolin Monks at the Shaolin Temple about four times. They taught us a form called Shaolin 7 Stars (Qi Xing). I was so mesmerized by these Shaolin Monks. They are so young and so amazing with their abilities. The Shaolin Monks who taught me told me to continue to study hard.
On 4 July 2013, besides training with the Shaolin Monks we attended a Kung Fu Show at one of the schools. Afterwards in the small town of Denfeng, we watched 45 minutes of spectacular, grand fireworks to celebrate the 4th of July!
From 8 to 14 October 2013, the Shaolin Monks will be at the Los Angeles Convention Center. This is the Songshan Shaolin Temple of China and Association of North America Shaolin Kung Fu Masters and Practioners to share and learn Kung Fu. This is the first North American Shaolin Cultural Festival. To register and see more information go to:
e-mail: [email protected]
Abbot Shi Yongxin has also signed with a movie production company in Beijing to remake the film “Shaolin Temple”. I would love to cast the Shaolin Warrior Monks in my next movie or the sequel of “Eye of the Empress”. I would also love to get paid performing with the Shaolin Monks in any Hollywood movie! It would be a dream come true!