The Way of the Mantis (part 1)

Three hundred years ago in the Chinese province of Canton, there lived a young man by the name of Dushu.  Dushu was the son of a very wealthy merchant, but he did not wish to carry on his father’s line of work.  His greatest ambition was to enter a Shaolin temple, and the only way anyone entered a Shaolin temple was that they must become a monk.  And as all the Chinese people knew, this was no easy task.

At the age of twenty, Dushu set off for the province of Shantung, where there was a Shaolin temple under the great Shaolin Master Change.  When he arrived at the temple gates he asked the monk that was on watch if he, Dushu, the wealthy son of a Canton merchant, could have attendance with the great Master Chang?  The monk did not reply, but disappeared for a brief time.  When he reappeared he told Dushu that Master Chang had no business with him.  Dushu replied in a loud and desperate voice that he had come a long way to see Master Chang and, besides, this was no way to treat a rich merchant’s son.  The monk made no reply nor did he make any further replies for three more days, in which Dushu just sat at the bottom of the gate – waiting.  Dushu had been warned it would not be easy to gain entrance in the Shaolin temple, but nevertheless he was determined.  And so he waited.

On the fourth day the great temple gate opened and a monk came out and bade Dushu to follow him.  Dushu, feeling a half sense of success, quickly did so.  The came to the inner courtyard of the temple and there stood a small middle-aged man.  This was Master Chang.

“An what is it you wished to see ma about young man?” asked Chang

“Master, I have traveled a long way at great expense to come to the temple so that you might take me in as a monk” replied Dushu.

“Ah, so you wish to become a Shaolin monk?  Well have you ever had any Kung Fu training?  For in order for you to become a monk at your age, you must first prove to me that your body and mind have been well disciplined” said Chang.

Dushu knew this well and in his younger years he had studied many fighting arts, but all his teachers had told him there was nothing as good as the Shaolin Kung Fu.  But nevertheless Dushu was quite determined and replied in a rather assuring tone that his body and mind were quite well disciplined and besides, he had a considerable fortune that he got from his father, and that surely would be more than enough to pay for the disciplines he had not yet learned.  Master Chang game a half smile saying,

“You have much to learn of the Shaolin ways, but nevertheless since you seem to be so determined, I will allow you a chance at showing me your great discipline.  I shall grant you’re a bout against my least skilled student.”

Dushu was about to protest having to fight the lowest student but something inside him stilled his thought.  Inside a few minutes, there was a young bald-headed monk half Dushu’s size standing before him.  Dushu inwardly reassured himself that this would not be such a hard task afterall.

Master Chang clapped his hands and the student and Dushu bowed.  Just as the student was re-erecting from the bow, Dushu jumped at him with a kick and found himself on the ground.  He quickly got up and started swinging as fast as he could.  But to Dushu’s amazement, all of his blows were stopped and he was once again easily thrown to the ground.  He got up once more and in a fit of rage began to strike out a fast as he could, but again he was easily blocked.  Then the student struck three very fast blows to the center of Dushu’s body and he was on the ground once again.  Only this time he could not get up.

The master clapped his hands, and the young monk left.  Then Master Chang said,

“When you are able, you may leave.”

To be continued….

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