Journal of Martial Arts Anthropology

Abstract - The journey to the cradle of martial arts: a case study of martial arts’ tourism

Background. The study presents the account of a trip to the Shaolin monastery within the anthropological framework of martial arts and concept of martial arts tourism.
Problem. The aim of the paper is to show the uniqueness of the place of destination of many tourists including the authors. The study is meant as a contribution to the further study on the tourism of martial arts.
Method. The main method used here is participant observation, and additionally, an analysis of the subject literature. This is partially a case study, and an analysis of facts, literature and symbolism. The method of visual sociology was also used (the main material are photos taken during the trip).
Results. The authors conducted field research in the area of Dengfeng: Shaolin and Fawang temples cultivating kung-fu. The description is illustrated with photographs (factual material) and analysis of facts. It was found that in the case of the Shaolin centre both commercialisation of martial arts and tourism occurred. However, as wushu schools around the historic monastery are functioning, this is still an important place for martial arts, especially related to the Chinese tradition.
Conclusions. Shaolin appears as a special place, especially on the map of “tourism of martial arts”. The whole world of martial arts has been benefiting from the Shaolin heritage up to now. The Chinese were able to commercialise this popularity, arranging in the adjacent area of the monastery a museum for tourists and wushu schools.