About Shifu Yan Lei
Shaolin Steel Jacket, Sanshou fighting, and Qi Gong
Shifu Yan Lei was born in a traditional family in the Xin Jiang province of China. The son of a fisherman, he is the youngest of seven children.
“It was a struggle for my parents to look after seven children. I was constantly hungry. I was very naughty as a child; always skipping school and getting into street fights.”
He began his martial arts life at the age of fourteen when he travelled to the other side of China to train in the Shaolin Temple in Henan province.
“Temple life was very hard and sometimes I hated it. I had to get up every morning at five-thirty and prepare my teacher’s breakfast and bring him water so that he could wash himself, and then I would take the boys running up the mountain. But looking back I feel very happy. Temple life gave me a strong focus. I stopped fighting on the street and trained every day, honing my Shaolin skills.”
His Master; the Shaolin Abbot; Shi Yong Xin gave him the name Lei - meaning thunder - and he became a 34th generation fighting disciple. When he was eighteen he travelled to different Kung Fu schools to learn additional Kung Fu and Qi Gong skills from famous masters.
“Because I was young my main interest was in fighting but the more I studied the more I realised that in order to do physical exercise you need to look after your internal organs through the practice of qi gong. This will give you a longer martial arts life. I then went back to the Shaolin Temple to read all of the ancient books they have on the subject.”
At the age of twenty-eight he was invited to the West to teach authentic Shaolin martial arts.
“Shaolin has become very famous but unfortunately a lot of what is taught is not real Shaolin. The Buddha said, “Question everything I say. Test it for yourself. Don’t just take my word for it.” This is the same with Shaolin. Try it, see it works for you, once you see it working then you can give your full commitment but be wary of claims people make. There are a lot of so-called secrets about Shaolin but the only secret I have found is that you have to train consistently.”
Kung Fu literally means hard work, for example, for a virtuoso violin player their playing is their kung fu. They cannot learn violin in a year, neither can a person learn kung fu in a year. It takes time but it is worth it.
“If the Shaolin Arts were in pill form then everyone would take it because the results are a longer healthier happier life and I don’t know of a single person who doesn’t want this.”