My name is Yan Min Chen (but my Shaolin Temple name Shi Yan Ming). I started training in Kung Fu when I was 13 years old in a local Kung Fu school. Thanks to my dedication and academic achievements, I was awarded admission into the Shaolin Temple in 1997. Having become a full-time Shaolin Temple Warrior Monk, I specialised in traditional Shaolin forms, traditional weapons and San Da (Chinese Kickboxing). Throughout the course of my training career, I became inspired by the ways that Shaolin training could transform a person’s life, and as a result, I formed a life-long commitment to the Shaolin way of life. After many years of learning under the Shaolin Temple, I was awarded the rank of Shaolin Master.
Reflecting back on my training in the Shaolin Temple, these experiences have taught me many valuable lessons. These lessons are not necessarily about the Shaolin temple itself. At the time, the most valuable lesson I learned was how I could progress my future development. I learnt that this applies not only from a physical point of view, but also a personal, and theoretical point of view. I found my philosophical development particularly problematic because although I had access to many resources, it was difficult to traverse the varying opinions and ideas.
I experienced the biggest change in my learning was when I first came to the UK in 1998 to perform in the first-ever “Wheel of Life” stage show. Through the show, I was fortunate to travel to lots of places across UK and Europe, and met all kinds of people. The most fascinating part of this opportunity was that I was introduced to Western culture and education. I was exposed to many new ideas; new perspectives; and new ways of expressing myself both personally, and artistically. After the tour, I found that I needed to absorb and process what I learned, and evaluate my preconceptions.
I moved to the UK in 2000, where I was hoping to develop my knowledge further, and share it with other people. My transition was turbulent in the beginning; with adjusting to a new country, and culture, different food, traveling, and tending other life essentials. The hardest aspect of this period was learning to adapt to every situation, and to different people appropriately.
In 2003, I was inspired to establish a group for the purpose to sharing knowledge and to promote learning but focusing on Chinese martial arts, and culture. In the latter part of 2003, I opened the Shaolin Temple School of Kung Fu in the beautiful coastal town of Bournemouth. Later in 2006, the Shaolin Temple School of Kung Fu changed its name to UK Shaolin Temple.
Over the years, while UK Shaolin Temple has expanded, my efforts have been featured in many publications, commercials, television broadcasts, and several documentaries and movies. These opportunities have acted as outlets to express my approach to martial arts training and philosophy.
Today our UK Shaolin Temple community continues to expand and improve, and we have more friends, and supporters from all over the world. Throughout this journey I have been fortunate to make many friends, and meet other like-minded people who have helped to progress my goal of providing a place to share knowledge and learning. The support of our community gives me enormous pleasure, as well as, drive and determination to continue on this mission.