2008-06-26 13:28:52 GMT 2008-06-26 21:28:52 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English
ZHENGZHOU -- You do not have to live an ascetic life in the famed Shaolin Temple to learn martial arts - you can now buy the secrets of kung fu online, in a move that has caused controversy.
The Shaolin Temple in China's Henan Province has come under fire for selling "Shaolin Kung Fu and Medicine Secret", a series kung fu instruction manuals. Priced at 9,999 yuan (1,450 US dollars), it is the most expensive item in the temple's online shop.
The series, allegedly complied by Shi Yongxin, the celebrity abbot of Shaolin, has been questioned as to its authenticity and originality, with some Chinese netizens saying parts of the new series could be found in other older books.
"Read a book and become a kung fu master? It is absurd," said Chai Huabing, a Chinese netizen.
"If it is true, then anyone who can afford the book can be a kung fu star," he added.
"The Secret series does not guarantee that its readers will become kung fu masters,"said Gu Liying, an official with the Shaolin Stage of Joy Co. Ltd. which runs the temple's online shop and a shop near the temple where customers can taste the monks' vegetarian food and buy souvenirs.
"They mainly tell about exercise techniques and the medical knowledge of keeping fit," she said.
"Some medical prescriptions and exercising methods in the books were passed orally from generation to generation in the temple."
Only a handful of inexpensive items listed on the website have been sold since it opened.
Shaolin is no stranger to criticism of its commercial activities. The virtual business is the latest commercial venture in which abbot Shi has spared no efforts in exploiting the Shaolin legend.
He has earned the nickname of the "CEO monk", since many people have accused him of running Shaolin like a business. Under his leadership, the 1,500-year old temple built up its own website, delved into film production and sent its monks on world tours, performing feats of agility and balance.
But his supporters said it is a good way to develop Shaolin in such a brand-oriented society because commercialized operation helps to protect and spread Chinese kung fu further.