In 2014, I had the privilege of becoming a Shaolin disciple of Grandmaster Shi Deyang, in presence of my a group of my students as well as my 2 sons Riley and Kai. The ceremony, held in the Hall of Guan Yin within the Shaolin Temple, was scheduled on the anniversary of Guan Yin’s enlightenment, underscoring the deep spiritual foundations of the Shaolin path. On this significant day, I was given the disciple name Shi Xing Ao, a name that symbolizes my commitment to the teachings and values of the Shaolin tradition, in particular in Australia. Australia in Chinese is 澳大利亚 (Àodàlìyǎ)..
The stone tablet installed at the front of Venerable Grandmaster Shi Suxi’s Pagoda by Shi Deyang is a profound symbol of respect and continuation of the Shaolin lineage. This tablet not only honors the memory of Venerable Grandmaster Shi Suxi, a pivotal figure in the Shaolin heritage, but also lists the names of his disciples, including both my English name, David Greenland, and my Shaolin disciple name. This act of commemoration serves to bridge past and present, ensuring that the contributions of his disciples in the in the ancestral linage are permanently recorded.
As the owner of Emerald Dragon Martial Arts, my role extends beyond teaching martial arts; it involves imparting the Shaolin philosophy and way of life to students. This responsibility is heightened by the recent acknowledgment of my son by Grandmaster Shi Deyang, who has been honored as the first Grand disciple, receiving the name Shi Yong Li. His position as head coach at Emerald Dragon Martial Arts is pivotal in continuing the lineage, embodying the Shaolin principles of discipline, spiritual growth, and martial proficiency.
The installation of the stone tablet by Shi Deyang is a testament to the enduring legacy of the Shaolin warrior monks. It reflects a deep commitment to preserving the teachings, history, and spirit of the Shaolin tradition. By listing the disciples, including the newer generations, it creates a tangible link between the past, present, and future of Shaolin martial arts. This continuity is crucial for the survival and vitality of the Shaolin way, ensuring that its teachings remain relevant and accessible to future generations.
In this light, the role of each disciple, including my own and that of my son, is not just to learn and master the martial arts but to uphold and transmit the values and wisdom of the Shaolin tradition. It is a journey of personal growth, spiritual development, and dedication to a lineage that has contributed immensely to the martial arts world and beyond. The stone tablet stands as a reminder of this ongoing responsibility and the collective commitment to honor and advance the Shaolin heritage.