Inside Shaolin Monastery, the home of kung fu and Zen Buddhism, where thousands of boys as young as 5 train to be martial arts masters
- The Shaolin Temple in central China was built in the Fifth Century, and is the original home of Kung Fu and Zen Buddhism.
- It's nearly been destroyed many times by Chinese warlords, and more recently Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution.
- It's a mecca for young boys (and some girls) who dream of escaping poverty, becoming warrior monks, or film stars.
- Since the boom of Hollywood martial arts films and an ambitious abbot started monetizing the temple and its cultural capital, Shaolin has experienced a renaissance.
- But now it's greatest threat might be its own commercialization.
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Kung Fu's first home is hard to kill.
Since it was built in 495 AD, Shaolin Temple, the original home of kung fu and Zen Buddhism, has been attacked and nearly destroyed multiple times. It's survived, with a motto: "In defense like a virgin; in attack like a tiger."Its recent boom is partly due to kung fu film stars like Jet Li who made it popular, and an influx of martial art film classics like "The Matrix," "House of Flying Daggers," and "Kill Bill."
The other reason is an ambitious abbot named Shi Yongxin, dubbed "China's CEO monk," who's turning the temple into a global brand.
Today, it's a training ground for thousands of young boys as young as five, who dream of becoming warrior monks, or martial arts film stars.
Here's what the home of kung fu is like.