American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of Iron Crotch: An Odyssey in theNew China [NOOK Book]

Overview

The raucously funny story of one young American's quest to become the baddest dude on the planet (and possibly find inner peace along the way)

Growing up a ninety-eight-pound weakling tormented by bullies in the schoolyards of Kansas, Matthew Polly dreamed of one day journeying to the Shaolin Temple in China to become the toughest fighter in the world, like Caine in his ...
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American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of Iron Crotch: An Odyssey in theNew China

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Overview

The raucously funny story of one young American's quest to become the baddest dude on the planet (and possibly find inner peace along the way)

Growing up a ninety-eight-pound weakling tormented by bullies in the schoolyards of Kansas, Matthew Polly dreamed of one day journeying to the Shaolin Temple in China to become the toughest fighter in the world, like Caine in his favorite 1970s TV series Kung Fu.

American Shaolin
is the story of the two years Matthew spent in China living, studying, and performing with the Shaolin monks. The Chinese term for tough training is chi ku (?eating bitter?), and Matthew quickly learned to appreciate the phrase.

This is both the gripping story of Matthew's journey and an intimate portrait of the real lives of the Shaolin monks, who struggle to overcome rampant corruption and the restrictions of an authoritarian government. Laced with humor and illuminated by cultural insight, American Shaolin is an unforgettable coming-of- age story of one man's journey into the ancient art of kungfu, and a poignant portrait of a rapidly changing China.


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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
“I loved American Shaolin.”—PJ O’Rourke

“An original and insightful book.”—Boston Globe

“Polly is an easy amateur to root for.”—Entertainment Weekly

“It takes a special kind of person to leave the comforts of Princeton University and move to rural China to smash his forearms against tree trunks. Meet Matthew Polly.”—NY Post

“I picked up American Shaolin and read it straight through. It is first rate. Polly’s book tells more about what's going on in China and has more insights into the real China than anything in recent years. It is a wonderful true-life story with profound, behind-the-headlines observations about Chinese life. A tip of the Stetson to Matthew Polly.”—Dan Rather

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101216842
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 2/1/2007
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 304,783
  • File size: 894 KB

Meet the Author

Matthew Polly is the author of the national bestseller American Shaolin. A Princeton University graduate and Rhodes Scholar, his work has appeared in Esquire, Slate, and The Nation. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 40 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(28)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(0)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 40 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 26, 2009

    One boys journey to becoming a man

    Amituofo Matt
    Even if your not well acquainted with martial arts. you soon will be. Matt Polly's incredible descriptions of the Shaolin Temple and its inhabitants not only open your eyes but also jump out of your seat right into the book. American Shaolin truly is a book that you don't want to just blaze right through but read as if your in the story.

    Matt is boy who is as skinny as a stick, and if you punch him, seems like he is going to break in half like a tree being cut down. Matt was always the one being bullied at the school yard and constantly picked on by his peers for his weak stature.

    Matt being in martial arts growing up loves to watch kung fu movies, anywhere from Bruce Lee to Jet Li, it didn't matter as long as there was action. Then Matt being as crazy as he is decides to take a break from Princeton University and head to the Shaolin Temple to train with the Buddhist monks he always saw in the chop-socky flicks he used to watch.

    Expecting to find a little hidden city of its own, he comes up to a tourist infested, communist run down town with many kung fu academies. Finally when all this craziness is behind him he ends up in the wushu center, this is where Zen Buddhism and Kung Fu were invented, this was his salvation in order to find himself.

    Matt being a 6'3 man isn't the best selection to being a martial artist but he pushes through. His willingness to eat bitter ( lots of pain) is truly incredible and awe inspiring to anybody of any age. His first months at Shaolin are incredibly heart stopping, not only because he's the only foreigner for miles, but the idea of having a white foreigner (laowai) training under the monks is really 1 in a million before Matt went to the Wushu center to train.

    " To suffer and learn a lesson, one pays a high price, but a fool can't learn any other way." The way Polly uses these quotes before every chapter is really compelling and really gets you thinking about what their real meaning is behind them and if they truly apply to you as an individual. " Only those who have tasted the bitterest of the bitter can become people who stand out among others." This one really get you thinking because if you think you've gone through life thinking it was hell, well was it? Was it the worst that it could've been.

    Matt uses humor to illuminate the greatness of the Chinese culture and gives us a real insight to the customs and shows us really how the two cultures differ in a way we find today as unbelievable. A must get to be enjoyed by all.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2007

    Not what I expected... Better than I expected

    Matthew Polly is a fantastic comedic writer. I caught myself laughing out loud a numerous times. I'm not at all into kung fu or any martial arts, but this book entails a lot more than just about an american wanting to learn some high kicks. You will laugh and enjoy the author's journey as he changes and matures from the beginning to the end. This book is an adventure, indeed.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2007

    Funny, Fascinating and a GREAT Read!

    There just aren't enough books written like this an unusual topic and a true story about a boy who takes it upon himself to make his Kung Fu dream (and every other kids') a reality! If you want a story so unique and unexpected, you've got to pick up Matthew Polly's American Shaolin. From the contrast in fighting styles to the diversity of cultures, this book provides a captivating story. The personalities were wild and the conflicts, both physical and mental were too real. I wanted to call Polly and ask him to take me back to China with him! I wanted to experience the Shaolin Monks as he did. I read 4-5 books a week business, humor, spiritual. This is probably the best thing I've picked up in 10 years.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2007

    Wildly Funny, Entertaining and Informative

    American Shaolin is worth 10 stars at least. Matthew Polly had a fascinating experience as a Kungfu student in China and is able to share this great adventure through his superb writing ablity. His humor and intelligence amazed me. There is no hyperbole in my review-just total appreciation for this funny, unusual incredible book! Thank you, thank you thank you, Matt!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2014

    To Darkstrike

    Tigerfaith is in the nursery...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2014

    Libertyheart

    She makes a nest in the corner of the den for herself, away from all the other cats.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2014

    Dustflight

    Makes a nest for himself

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2014

    ~`| CelestialClan Warriors' Den |`~

    ~Lionstar &starf

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2013

    Based on the sample...

    I really like the book I want to read more of it, it's worth the money as far as I read and it's worth the read even though the sample is 16 pages.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2012

    Eh

    Its ok but its taking me three weeks to write this report because its just cant hold my attention i have to really focus to get any reading and writing with no distractions
    So four stars

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    Matt Polly tells this personal adventure with alot of humor. This is a great story even if your not interested in martial arts. However the eBook version does not have photos.

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  • Posted August 27, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Great read! Anyone remotely interested in the martial arts (along with anyone else) should read this book!

    This was a wonderfully entertaining book. I admit, I am a martial artist, so that made it even more enjoyable. But this book is funny, interesting, and informative. Learn a little about China, Kung Fu, and the difference between cultures. This is a super easy read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 26, 2010

    Geek's Odyssey in the Orient

    This is the story of an insecure young man and his search for enlightenment and the ability to really kick righteous a$$--maybe more of the latter than the former. Matthew Polly has written a funny coming-of-age memoir that sheds light on a crucial point of modern history: China's re-emergence in the modern world.

    Don't be mislead by Polly's nervous habit of charting his progress by making little lists of his shortcomings. This is splendid writing worthy of a Twain travelogue with all of Twain's prowess of observation. Matthew Polly comes to grips with a small part but crucial part of China and manages to gain experience that goes deep into the psyche of this fascinating country. His explanation of the Chinese drinking game of Playing Hands (a more complex version of Scissors, Paper, Stone) elucidates an aspect of Chinese thinking that should make this book required reading for diplomats and business people who must deal with the Chinese.

    But if deep cultural insight is not enough, read this book for the riveting account about the nice Ivy League boy going to the fabled Orient to become a kung-fu expert. The traditional Chinese proverb the author quotes at the very beginning of the book sums up the story well:

    "To suffer and learn a lesson, one pays a high price, but a fool can't learn any other way."

    In this case, the author's pain is the reader's gain. I found this book absolutely riveting and stayed up way too late in order to finish reading it. Enormous fun!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 11, 2010

    courageous young man

    Loved it. Matthew is not only a bright young man but also very courageous. I have been to china with tourist guides, and was still daunted by all the bureaucracy a person must go through to get anywhere or anything done. To go there on your own, on a mission like finding the Shaolin temple, not even knowing if it still exists takes great determination and courage. What an interesting and inspiring goal. I think that many people on an adventure like this would not have been able to record and write such a well balanced book. Matthew not only reveals in his book the technical aspects of shaolin karate but, also did a great job of telling the reader about his social events that went with the academic pursuits. Lots of fun and informative.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2010

    Great Read for anyone

    This was a great read for anyone, it is really enlightening about China culture, Shaolin and martial arts in general. I would recommend this to anyone, especially martial artists.

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  • Posted May 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I want to learn Kung Fu

    After reading this book all I could think about was Kung Fu and I am a banker. The book goes so much farther than to outline what it is like to be a Shaolin monk. The book teaches of Chinesse culture and the challenges that many young people face as they try to realize who they really are. Excellent Book.

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  • Posted March 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Really Enjoyable!

    If you love Kung Fu, Shaolin Monks, and/or Buddhism you will really enjoy reading this book! It is very entertaining and interesting! That is a hand full of pictures but that little bit tells a lot and show some crazy things! You will be surprised how entertaining the book is! Go ahead and get stuck in to it! :)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2008

    Not an Avid reader but captivated

    I was immediately drawn in by the cover - the Burger King held by a Shaolin Monk made me laugh and open the book to see the story line. I loved it. took only 5 days to finish it reading only part time.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 40 Customer Reviews

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