Zen Buddhist Monk. Teacher. Kung Fu Master.
- Written byCassidy Strawn
Precise, flowing and animalistic, Sifu Wang Bo’s movements exemplify the art of the famous Shaolin Temple in China. More commonly known here as it is portrayed in Hollywood movies, the Shaolin Temple is the birthplace of martial arts. Wang Bo trained there for 13 years, going on to win many world martial arts championships and meet global leaders such as Queen Elizabeth II and President Vladimir Putin of Russia. After studying with his father from the age of 4, Wang Bo practiced at the Shaolin Temple from age 7 to 20 with no days off. His time there taught him martial arts, but it also taught him immense discipline. “It was a very tough life in the temple.
If you don’t follow the rules, you get beat. Very serious, very hard,” he describes. “You have to wake up on time. You have to eat with no sound. You’re supposed to make no noises and be very quiet.” The temple had several rules, including no consumption of meat or alcohol and an intense studying and practice schedule. Punishment would follow any broken rules. Relocating to relaxed California three years ago challenged Wang Bo with a new lifestyle—greatly different from what he had grown up with. “To move here, it’s totally different than where I come from. I come here, and I have to find my own way to survive,” the Palos Verdes resident says. “My first year here, I have to find ways to communicate. It’s like you throw someone to the jungle; he has to learn how to survive.” In order to succeed, Wang Bo kept up the discipline he learned growing up. “If I want to do something, I have to make it happen. I learned discipline at temple, and that has been very important in my life,” he says.
Although he visited America a few times before for martial arts demonstrations, he decided to come here alone three years ago and originally stayed with a friend in Oceanside. Then he met Gustav, the owner of Sacred Stone Gallery in Redondo Beach. Wanting to learn Tai Chi, Gustav put together a class in Veterans Park for Wang Bo to teach. From this first class in the park, Wang Bo now has his own martial arts studio and about 85 students. Wang Bo clearly has a passion for his practice, one he notes was created thousands of years ago by enlightened men. “We need this art,” he says. “Kung fu is one of the techniques you can make your mind and body combine. Practice will give you a very strong feeling in your heart.” In order to become a martial artist, Wang Bo says that a student must have a good teacher, work very hard and practice with passion and feeling. “The hardest part is yourself. Let’s say you could just go to work and do work. Well, you could also go to work and try your best. It’s your choice if you wanna go deeper and deeper,” he teaches.
Wang Bo offers a full schedule of courses at his Shaolin Studio in Torrance.
For more information, call 310-325-0116 or visit shaolinarts.org.