A decade after the inaugural North American Shaolin Cultural Festival in 2013, the renowned Shaolin Temple is set to host another significant cultural exchange event in the United States. The 2023 North American Shaolin Games, along with a series of martial arts-related activities, are scheduled to take place in Los Angeles on November 11 and 12. This announcement was made at a press conference held on November 7.
Organized by the Songshan Shaolin Temple in China, in partnership with the Shaolin North American Association, these games are expected to be a vibrant platform for kung fu practitioners to showcase their skills. The event aims to further popularize this ancient martial art in North America. Approximately 500 Shaolin disciples from over 40 states in the US, as well as participants from Canada and Mexico, will partake in the events.
Shi Yongxin, the abbot of the Shaolin Temple, expressed at the press conference that Shaolin kung fu enjoys global recognition. He emphasized that kung fu is not just a physical exercise but also a path to achieving Zen and enlightenment through wisdom. The kung fu competition, a long-standing tradition of the Shaolin Temple, is designed to encourage Shaolin disciples to diligently pursue self-improvement and constant self-transcendence.
The opening ceremony is set to host dignitaries from various fields and will feature top performers in different kung fu categories. Winners, known as the 2023 North American Shaolin kung fu stars, will be awarded medals, trophies, certificates, and accolades, fostering motivation and recognition of their skills.
Shi Yongxin highlighted that the tradition of Shaolin kung fu competitions has gained international momentum since 2011. Events like the European Shaolin Cultural Festival and the North American Shaolin Cultural Festival have placed the kung fu competition at their core. In 2022, the Shaolin kung fu online competition continued this legacy, drawing 5,320 participants from 94 countries across six continents.
The Shaolin Games, prior to arriving in the US in 2023, were successfully held in Zambia, Singapore, and Argentina, showcasing the global appeal and influence of Shaolin kung fu.
During his North American visit, Shi Yongxin also addressed a gathering at Meta’s headquarters in San Francisco. In his speech titled “Zen Meets AI,” he discussed the relationship between Zen Buddhism and artificial intelligence. He noted that while AI has advanced capabilities in data processing and can mimic human perceptions, it cannot replicate the awakened consciousness central to Zen Buddhism. Shi Yongxin urged humans to seek inner wisdom and transcendence, even amidst rapid AI advancements. He suggested that AI could serve as a tool to assist Zen practitioners by providing access to relevant texts and easing their spiritual journey.
The 2023 North American Shaolin Games in Los Angeles symbolize not just a celebration of martial arts but also a significant cultural exchange, bridging Eastern and Western philosophies and promoting a deeper understanding of Zen and martial arts traditions.