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UPDATED: 15:47, November 18, 2004
Shaolin monks leave for Brazil to perform Chinese kung fu
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A martial arts group from Shaolin Temple in central China's Henan Province left Wednesday for Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The group will perform Chinese kung fu for audiences in the country's largest city November 20 and 21, said Master Shi Yongxin, head of the delegation and abbot of Shaolin Temple.

The 27-member group has prepared 26 programs for the Brazilian audience as part of the cultural exchange between the two countries, he said.

This is the first time for the group to perform in Latin America. The performers have staged many performances at home and abroad.

Shaolin Temple, home of the famous Shaolin Boxing, is located in the Songshan Mountain in Hunan Province about 40 miles southwest of the provincial capital Zhengzhou.

Built in 496 in the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589), the temple was originally constructed for Bodhidharma, the legendary Indian monk who came to China to spread Buddhism and introduce Indian forms of exercise. The Chinese monks that he gathered here as followers combined this with Chinese techniques to produce this unique form of "wushu."

The militia monks of Shaolin rose to fame during the early Tang Dynasty (618-907) by helping its founding emperor Li Shimin suppress a local rebellion.

After 1,500 years of development, Shaolin martial arts are representative of both Chinese martial arts and Zen martial arts.

The current Shaolin group was formed in 1979 to glorify the traditional Chinese culture. It has 120 militia monks aged between seven and 50. The group has performed in more than 40 countries and regions and has won world-wide reputation.

In recent years, the Shaolin martial arts group has sought ways to expand its influence worldwide. A branch monastery opened in Germany and several monks were dispatched abroad to spread Chinese martial arts.

During the past 20 years, nearly 10,000 foreign martial arts fans from more than 80 countries and regions have made pilgrimages to the Shaolin Temple.

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