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Scholar-Warriors or Immortals

Scholar-Warriors from an Intensive Taijiquan Course in Sabah
Scholar-Warriors from an Intensive Taijiquan Course in Sabah


Classically, there were four types of Shaolin Monks: Administrative, Scholar, Warrior or Martial and Service Monks.

As Sifu taught today in Shaolin Wahnam, we do not really need go to war to be Warriors or shave our heads to be Monks or write classics to be Scholars. We aspire to their ideals, such as the clarity of thought and intellectual depth of a Scholar, the Courage and Righteousness of a Warrior, and the Compassion and Cosmic Wisdom of a Monk.

The Patriarch of Internal Arts, Zhang San Feng, was adept at Confucian scholarship, wrote Treatises, a Master of Shaolin Kungfu and a Taoist Immortal. We may generally say that he is a Scholar-Warrior-Monk

The Taoist Sage Lao Tze was a royal librarian and author of Tao Te Ching who eventually rode on a buffalo, disappearing into the western mountains to be a hermit. We can generally say that he is a Scholar-Monk.

The 1st Zen Patriarch in China and Originator of The Shaolin Arts, the Venerable Bodhidharma, was a southern Indian prince who received training in the arts of war and Buddhist meditation at the king’s palace. We may generally say that he is Warrior-Monk .

The 6th Zen Patriarch, the Venerable Hui Neng, despite being illiterate, was famous for an enlightening winning poem in a temple competition and whose teachings were recorded in the famous Platform Sutra. We can say he was purely a service monk i.e. neither a Scholar nor a Warrior Monk, who became an Enlightened Monk.

Sigung Ho Fatt Nam was a Taoist Master, Zen Master, Shaolin Qigong-Kungfu Master, Master Healer and avid photographer. Sigung is certainly a Scholar-Warrior-Monk.

Sifu, if Zhang San Feng taught four un-Enlightened students, each a lay Scholar, a lay Warrior, a Monk, a lay Scholar-Warrior respectively, aiming to become Immortals i.e. still in the phenomenal realm and if all other things were equal, how will the four rank in descending order of relative speed i.e. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th to attain the above mentioned aim? Perhaps also possible ranking in absolute time frame i.e. months, years, decades, lifetimes, etc?

Would the ranking be the same if the aim is to become an Enlightened Monks i.e. attained Zen or merged with the Tao?


As the term Scholar-Warrior is figurative, i.e. we do not really have to write classics to be Scholars, and we do not have to go to wars to be Warriors, I would say that Zhang San Feng, Lao Tze, Bodhidharma, Hui Neng, my Sifu Ho Fatt Nam were all Scholar-Warriors. There is no doubt about their Wisdom and Courage.

If Zhang San Feng were to teach four students, a Scholar, a Warrior, a Monk and a Scholar-Warrior, to become Immortals, presuming all other things were equal and also presuming that we have a real Monk dedicated to the highest spiritual cultivation, not one who just shaves his head, what would their ranking in descending order be?

I would rank them as follows:

  1. 1st – the Monk

  2. 2nd – the Scholar-Warrior

  3. 3rd – the Warrior

  4. 4th – the Scholar

My justification is as follows:

A Monk has qualities that even a Prime Minister and a General cannot measure to. A Monk is therefore higher than a Scholar-Warrior.

A Scholar-Warrior is higher than a Scholar or a Warrior.

Both a Scholar and a Warrior need wisdom and courage, but the need of a Warrior is greater. One who aspires to be a scholar but has neither wisdom nor courage, will fail as a Scholar. One who aspires to be a Warrior but has neither wisdom nor courage will be dead.

Although the Monk ranks first in becoming an Immortal, which is still in the phenomenal realm, the question is whether he will be contented to be an Immortal. He may aim to merge with the Great Void, which is Transcendental.

When we have a teacher in Zhang San Feng, and students who are a Scholar, a Warrior, a Monk and a Scholar-Warrior, we have the best teacher and students. But becoming Immortals still take time.

My estimate in descending order is as follows:

The Monk – 10 years.

The Scholar-Warrior – 12 years.

The Warrior – 15 years.

The Scholar – 18 years.

All students in Shaolin Wahnam aspire to be Scholar-Warriors. Many, like our Masters, already are. But we don’t aim to become Immortals. We aim to have good health, vitality, longevity, mental clarity and spiritual joys, and those who practice Kungfu and Taijiquan, combat efficiency.

If you like this one and want to read more about The Three Golden Rules

you might like this article.

If you feel ready to practice Genuine Shaolin Cosmos Qigong you might want to check our Private Generating Qi Flow Course.

This article is been shared with brief and subtle changes in accordance to my own way to explain this same principles to my students and to edit out private personal details about the people asking these questions. If you like to read the original article as was published by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit in his website, just follow the link.


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