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The Shaolin Workout
by Sifu Shi Yan Ming
2006

Shaolin Workout by Sifu Shi Yan Ming The subtitle to this book reads, "28 DAYS to Transforming Your body and Soul the Warrior's Way." The implication here is that if you read this introduction to martial arts exercise and philosophy and follow its direction for 28 days, you will be completely transformed. Naturally martial art purists are horrified. They point out that it takes years of intense, unrelenting practice to become a truly adept martial artist. They are right about that. But they are wrong about this book.

Sifu Shi Yan Ming, the man behind The Shaolin Workout is a 34th-generation Shaolin warrior monk who defected from China to the United States in order to spread the teaching of Shaolin Kung Fu. He landed in New York City and soon was exhorting his American students to "Train harder! More Chi!" And because Yan Ming is such an impressive, imposing presence, that's exactly what they did. Along the way, he collected the usual assortment of celebrity clients and news clips. Yan Ming is overflowing with charisma, so the public milieu suits him. Does any of this detract from his devotion to his art? Flip through the book and examine the vividly dramatic color photos of Yan Ming in action, and you'll have to agree that 1) he's a powerful presence and 2) his form is eloquent.

In reality, The Shaolin Workout is an invitation to visit Yan Ming's world of fire and action — to dip your toe in it to see how it feels. He's a powerful proponent of meditation, but instead of contemplating the world in stillness, he promotes meditation in action, which is the very foundation of not only martial arts, but also all true physical activity. Yan Ming gives you 28 days' worth of simple, basic exercises to learn. (Don't worry — you are definitely not expected to do these stretches and moves as deeply or as beautifully as Yan Ming. That's why you have to Train Harder! More Chi!) Each day also includes an insightful meditation that runs the gamut from inspiring to completely irreverent. (Want to stir things up at home? Adopt Yan Ming's celebratory abit of spouting, "Merry Christmas!" and "Happy New Year!" during any season, at any time.)

So will these 28 days completely transform you? If you follow the directions in the book with the same exuberant spirit in which they were written, the answer will most likely be yes, since you'll be compelled to continue exploring martial arts. And as anyone knows who has studied this form of philosophy and movement, it's not just exercise, it's a way of thinking and a way of life. Before the years of diligent, finely honed practice comes the spark, the inspiration, the initial desire to follow the path. So can The Shaolin Workout transform you in 28 days? It can transform you in an instant!

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