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

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

4.6 40
by Matthew Polly
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

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,

…  See more details below

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.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781592403370
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/27/2007
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
659,952
Product dimensions:
5.29(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.74(d)
Age Range:
18 - 14 Years

What People are saying about this

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

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.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

American Shaolin 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
bozoTK More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tigerfaith is in the nursery...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She makes a nest in the corner of the den for herself, away from all the other cats.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Makes a nest for himself
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BHILL More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Miz_Ellen More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
rnmama More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago