The power of the Shaolin brand

We just recorded a fun podcast about the myth and reality of the Shaolin brand over on the Heretics podcast. If you like Chinese martial arts then I think you’ll like it.

“When you can take the pebble from my hand, it will be time for you to leave.” – Master Kan

Here’s the blurb:

“Did Western movies and TV lead to the creation of the Shaolin Warrior monks? Did the modern Shaolin fake something that had already been reinvented anyway? Did the Qing Dynasty really destroy the Shaolin temple, or did they instead create it? What influence did three subsequent phases of communism have on Shaolin? Was there a Southern Shaolin Temple, and what about the modern stuff at Wudang Mountain? These questions and more answered in our new episode on the infamous temple and its monks.”

Check out the full episode on Heretics.

2 thoughts on “The power of the Shaolin brand

  1. Hi Richard,

    I’m certainly not that interested in “Shaolin” to want to listen to a multi-part series on it, let alone record one. I think we covered the main points in one episode. If you want more then I quite like the accounts of people who went there in the 80s/90s/ and later. I’m currently reading American Shaolin, which has been recommended to me for ages, but I’ve never got around to reading before, and really enjoying it – it’s very funny. Also Monkey Steals Peach video channel has a Shaolin series on there where will went there and recorded everything quite recently. That’s good. G.


  2. Shaolin is probably one of the best examples of historical use of branding from China. It has historically been used to sell products, ideas, and propaganda. With the Shaolin name attached, it is natural to start making assumptions about the content of whatever it is to which the name is attached.

    Based on your previously scathing commentaries on topics like Yang Luchan and your depth on other topics like Xingyiquan, I expected a deep, multi-part expose´ on the Shaolin brand. I suppose it is too easy a target, since a majority of the stories we associate with the Shaolin monastery and brand are excerpts from works of fiction. You did touch on some highlights though.

    My general response as soon as I hear the word Shaolin is for my BS warning meter to go into the red. The same is true for “Wudang”, “qigong”, and several other labels where the emphasis is more on the brand, or categorization, than the nature or quality of the content or product.

    I am always pleasantly surprised to discover something of value wearing one of these labels.

    Thanks for addressing this topic.


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