National Geographic : 2011 Mar
' impending death reached his most enigmatic student on an isolat- ed mountaintop above the Shaolin Temple. ere Shi Dejian, a 47-year-old Buddhist monk, had already endured a trying week. A television crew had trekked up the vertiginous series of switch- backs hacked into the granite mountainside to reach the monastery. ey brought with them a professional mixed-martial-arts ghter, whom they planned to lm testing his skills against the monks. (He went home bruised.) A neurology team from Hong Kong University had arrived to study the e ect Dejian's rigorous meditation regimen has on his brain activity, and he had spent an exhausting night applying his chi tech- niques to ease the pain of an ill friend. en there had been the Communist Party o cial from Suzhou who had barged through the gate and demanded a cure for his brother's diabetes. For a man who seeks solitude, Dejian nds himself inundated with people. He owes this parade of strangers largely to Internet video clips that show him demonstrat- ing traditional Shaolin kung fu forms, often while balancing atop needlelike precipices or on the sloping roof of his cli side pagoda, one In a scene for a Chinese TV series, stuntmen portray Shaolin monks battling bandit gangs during the Qing dynasty. Not your average nonviolent Buddhists, the monks loom as heroes in the national psyche.