Shi Yan Ming at US Naval Academy at Annapolis

Professor Shannon French has created an elective course at the US Naval Academy at Annapolis. Her course, “The Code of the Warrior” features a survey of warrior cultures throughout the world. The class is designed to provide her students, America’s future military leaders, with a course of study that will help foster their understanding of their responsibility as warriors. By studying the warrior cultures of the early Vikings, the South African Zulu, the Western Plains Indians, the Samurai of Feudal Japan, and the Warrior Monks of the Shaolin Temple, Dr. French displays to her students the rich tapestry woven by these warrior societies. The study of their history excites the students with an understanding that this is their heritage, available to tap into, and lends context to their future roles amongst our armed forces and the world which they will be changing. The class ends with each student choosing a topic for a final class presentation amongst their peers.

Shaolin Monk at Naval Academy in AnnapolisIt was on this background that MIDN Johannes Schonberg reached out to the USA Shaolin Temple. It was his hope that he could do his presentation on Shaolin, which usually proved to be one of the most popular segments of Dr. French’s course. Each year, Dr. French would use the Discovery Channel’s “Secrets of the Warriors Power” as course materials. MIDN Johannes Schonberg realized that one of the documentary’s featured martial artists was established in New York City, and this inspired him to attempt to contact the Temple to try and arrange a visit from Shifu Shi Yan Ming for a presentation. It was with great honor that Shifu Shi Yan Ming accepted the Naval Academy’s formal invitation to come and present to the MIDNs of Annapolis the 1500 years of traditional Shaolin Chan Buddhism or Martial Arts which have been handed down to him and which he has chosen to share with the world.

He was the first Shaolin Monk, and the first Buddhist monk, to address the MIDNs of Annapolis and help them to develop and understand how to develop their warrior ethos. Navy SEAL CAPN Schoultz opened his home to Shifu and two of his disciples. They spent the night with the Captain’s family after a lovely dinner at one of Annapolis’ Japanese restaurants. The next morning, MIDN Johannes came to collect Shifu for breakfast in the main dining hall. After the Pledge of Allegiance, the MIDNs welcomed us with a special announcement- “We’re joined this morning by Warrior Monk Shi Yan Ming from the Shaolin Temple.” As we sat at breakfast with MIDN Johannes’ squad, we felt like a part of a large extended family, where they shared with us their future plans and military posts over pancakes and muffins.

Shaolin Training at Naval Academy in AnnapolisSoon it was time for Shifu’s presentation. Two presentations were offered to the students, faculty, and Navy staff. Shifu explained Chan Buddhism ending his presentation with the MIDNs learning about Dong Chan and Bu Dong Chan. Shaolin Temple Chan Buddhism is Martial Arts – the mental and the physical must be made into one. If you stretch your physical, and work on your physical ability, you also help develop your mental ability. Flexibility must be trained very hard, and one must constantly push oneself. If you can help yourself, then you can help others, and help the world. Shifu explained that there are millions of different Buddhas, for millions of different people. Shifu said that for some people, No-Action-Meditation (Bu Dong Ch’an) will work, but the Shaolin philosophy also includes Action Meditation, (Dong Chan) so it was only natural that the lecture ended with Shifu inviting the MIDNs to come onto the USNA’s soccer field for some stretching and gong fu training.

Shi Yan Ming with Midshipmen in Annapolis