Learning kung fu will soon become as easy as opening a smartphone app. In an attempt to increase its appeal to the younger generations and propagate Zen Buddhist culture, the Shaolin Temple has signed a co-operation agreement with China Mobile Games and Entertainment Group (CMGE) allowing the latter to use Shaolin’s brand to develop games for both mobile devices and television.
The deal should include a video game and a mobile app to learn kung fu interactively without making the long trip to the temple, says Want China Times.
With fame as old as the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), the Shaolin Temple is located on the Song Mountain, in central China’s Henan Province, and is often regarded to as the cradle of kung fu.
Shi Yongxin, monastery head of the Shaolin Temple, claimed that the temple needs to keep pace with technology to attract new audiences and expand its influence.
And indeed, this is only the latest of many initiatives; the 1,500 year-old temple has decided to adapt to the digital world (monks are way more tech savvy than you think). As a matter of fact, the temple already has nine subsidiaries, managing its business of martial arts studies, calligraphy, medicine, food, and movies.
The temple registered its website’s domain in 1996, becoming the first temple in China to do so, and went on to open an English version in 2010.
In 2008 it opened an official Taobao account, an online retail market where it sells all sorts of merchandise including its famous Shaolin medical book.
Later on, the temple signed up on Weibo (2010), Tencent (2012), and WeChat (2013). The three accounts are updated around 30 times a day and now have 68,000, 83,000, and 3,500 followers respectively.
The choice of a kung fu video game was not a bolt from the blue. All of the Shaolin office areas have Wi-Fi connection, and the younger monks use smartphones regularly. They even offer online Buddhist ceremonies–people can receive Guiyi certificates in six weeks, without ever travelling to the Song Mountain.