For the first time in history, the notoriously guarded warrior monks of the fifteen-hundred-year-old Shaolin Temple - a Chinese Buddhist sect dedicated to preserving a form of kung fu known as the "vehicle of Zen" - have allowed their secretive society to be documented. With the blessing of the main abbot, Justin Guariglia earned the trust and full collaboration of the Shaolin monks to create an astonishing, empathic record of the Shaolin art forms and the individuals who consider themselves the keepers of these traditions. Over the past eight years, Guariglia has deftly captured the changing context of this ancient sect as it encounters the increasingly hyper-modern world of contemporary China. This amazing work by one of today's most promising photographers provides viewers with a rare opportunity to examine the energy and spirit of the Shaolin's unique Zen practice, which has previously been seen primarily via pop-cultural interpretation in such films as "Crouching Tiger", "Hidden Dragon".
JUSTIN GUARIGLIA lived in Asia for nearly a decade and now resides in New York City. He has worked for National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, and Newsweek. Guariglia was nominated for the International Center of Photography's Young Photographer Infinity Award, received an Eddie Adams Workshop award, and was named by Photo District News as one of the top "30 Young Photographers under 30." MATTHEW POLLY is a Princeton University graduate, martial artist, and Rhodes scholar. His recent book, American Shaolin, is a memoir of the two years he spent training at the Shaolin Temple.