American Shaolin

Monday, March 26, 2007

Matthew Polly tells us about realizing his dream of training to become a kung fu master at the Shaolin Temple in China.

American Shaolin is available for purchase at

Events: Matthew Polly will be speaking and signing books
And a there will be a martial arts demonstration by a Shaolin monk
Monday, March 26 at 7 pm
Astor Place Barnes & Noble

Comments [3]

Matthew Polly from Manhattan

Anyone interested in coincidences and therefore in seeing some video from time a Shaolin can visit this page:

Jan. 07 2008 10:05 PM
Matthew Polly from Manhattan

I just discovered this post and was amused by it. I arrived at the Shaolin Temple several months after the movie "American Shaolin" wrapped filming there. Several of my teachers had been consultants on the film, and they had funny stories to tell about the lead actor. I must say it pained me to discover that for that movie crew Shaolin had been so much easier to discover than it had been for me.

I was not able to find a copy of the movie until several years after I returned. Personally, I found it to be, well, frankly, a cautionary tale about how not to tell a story about Shaolin. In that sense, the movie was a powerful anti-influence. But there is no doubt that in this case there are general parallels between life and art. No quotation marks necessary.

Jan. 07 2008 09:41 PM
MJ Madigan from Hastings-on-Hudson, NY

Listening to Mr. Polly's depiction of his experiences at the Shaolin temple brought an eerie sense of deja vu. Polly's "real-life" reminiscences from the "early to mid 1990s" sound very much like the storyline of "American Shaolin", an Academy Entertainment/Seasonal Films feature film that was actually shot at the (maybe NOT so hard to find?) Shaolin Temple in Henan Province during the summer of 1991. "American Shaolin" was written and producted by Keith W. Strandberg (717-285-3001) and directed by Lucas Lowe. The actors were both American and mainland Chinese, most of them also adept in martial arts: Cliff Lenderman, Trent Bushey, Daniel Dae Kim, Billy Chang, and Reese Madigan, who starred as Drew Carson, the young "American Shaolin". Like Mr. Polly, Drew Carson was a humiliated weakling who traveled alone to the Shaolin temple on the advice of his martial arts teacher to study "with the best". Like Polly, he "ate bitter"...suffering many hardships and trials before being accepted by the Shaolin monks and proving his mettle in a challenge match. The film "American Shaolin" was released in video format in January, 1993 and soon gained a cultlike following. It has since been fodder for daytime television movie channels where it has appeared many times over the years. Hearing today's interview on Leonard Lopate, I thought it was quite a coincidence that life sometimes does imitate art, even when the art is martial...

Mar. 27 2007 12:37 AM

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