American Shaolin by Matthew Polly
Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of Iron Crotch: An Odyssey in the New China

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The raucously funny story of one young American's quest to become the baddest dude on the planet (and possibly find inner peace along the way)

Growing up a ninety-eight-pound weakling tormented by bullies in the schoolyards of Kansas, Matthew Polly dreamed of one day journeying to the Shaolin Temple in China to become the toughest fighter in the world, like Caine in his favorite 1970s TV series Kung Fu.

American Shaolin
is the story of the two years Matthew spent in China living, studying, and performing with the Shaolin monks. The Chinese term for tough training is chi ku ('eating bitter'), and Matthew quickly learned to appreciate the phrase.

This is both the gripping story of Matthew's journey and an intimate portrait of the real lives of the Shaolin monks, who struggle to overcome rampant corruption and the restrictions of an authoritarian government. Laced with humor and illuminated by cultural insight, American Shaolin is an unforgettable coming-of- age story of one man's journey into the ancient art of kungfu-and a poignant portrait of a rapidly changing China.


About Matthew Polly

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Matthew Polly is an award-winning travel writer for Slate. A Princeton University graduate and Rhodes Scholar, his work has also appeared in Esquire, Playboy, and The Nation.
Published February 1, 2007 by Gotham Books. 404 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Sports & Outdoors, Travel, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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But he still didn’t feel like much of a badass, so in 1992 he headed for the ultimate sleep-away sports camp, the fabled Shaolin Temple Wushu Center in Henan Province in the heart of Communist China.

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The Guardian

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Bruce Lee and Me: A Martial Arts Adventure by Brian Preston 305pp, Atlantic, £8.99 American Shaolin: One Man's Quest to Become a Kungfu Master by Matthew Polly 366pp, Abacus, £10.99 In The Matrix, Neo undergoes an accelerated virtual training program in the martial arts.

Apr 28 2007 | Read Full Review of American Shaolin: Flying Kick...

Publishers Weekly

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In this smoothly written memoir, 98-pound weakling Polly makes the age-old decision to turn his nerdy self into a fighting machine.

Nov 20 2006 | Read Full Review of American Shaolin: Flying Kick...

Entertainment Weekly

Muscularly challenged and relentlessly self-critical Matthew Polly leaves Princeton to become an ''enlightened badass'' in his memoir American Shaolin.

Jan 26 2007 | Read Full Review of American Shaolin: Flying Kick...

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