Buddha Zhen after performing at Jordan Peace Gardens, Salt Lake City, Utah in 1994.
About Buddha Z
1980: Buddha Zhen begins his Chinese Kung Fu training in Panorama City, California at the Sil Lum Gung Fu school of Grandmaster Douglas Wong. This school teaches SOUTHERN STYLE Kung Fu of the 5-Families system and the 5-Animals system of Grandmaster Ark Yuey Wong in Chinatown of Los Angeles. Buddha Zhen refers to this as his “Boot Camp” training. You had to wear groin protection to every class because during the classes… you would occasionally get kicked there. Buddha Z graduated to the Intermediate Level which included “Stump Training.” In some of the Kung Fu movies you’ll see monks working out on telephone poles stuck in the ground. To accomplish this the Sil Lum classes would conduct kicking and punching routines balancing on one leg standing on a coffee can filled with concrete. Falling may have only been about 12″ but the edges of the coffee cans on your ankles was the worst part.
Buddha Zhen was injured during one of the classes and had to take a month off to heal his ankle. No, it wasn’t from the stump training. During his time off he discovered the Tai Mantis school in Torrance, California. Although it was a 14-mile drive from Santa Monica it was about the same distance to Panorama City. He decided to check out the school.
Tai Mantis was NORTHERN Shaolin and as it turned out–the owner of this school was Grandmaster Kam Yuen who was the Technical Advisor for the Kung Fu television series starring David Carradine in the 1970s. This television series was the inspiration for Buddha Zhen, then known as Richard Del Connor, to seek Shaolin Kung Fu in the first place. One of his rock & roll bands, THE RICH, used to watch an episode of Kung Fu before each of their rehearsals. So Richard was immediately excited to see if he could learn this ancient Buddhist martial art system from the original Shaolin Temple. This appeared to be exactly what he was looking for. When he enrolled he explained to one of the Shifu who signed him up, “I’m looking for a martial art with lots of kicks so I don’t hurt my hands. I’m a musician who performs bass and flute.”
Four years later in 1984 Richard graduated having learned:
- Yang Tai Chi Chuan
- Wang Tai Chi Chuan
- 12 Tantui (the basis of Jeet Kune Do of Bruce Lee)
- “Luohan 1” (one of the oldest Kung Fu forms of the Shaolin Temple circa 800 A.D.)
- “Lian Bu” (aka “Ling Po” which Richard would learn in 2009 was the “Masonic Kung Fu” form of 1935.)
- “Small Circular Luohan Fist”. (There’s a really cool video of Dr. Kam Yuen performing this with application demonstrations in Manhattan Beach.)
Then he learned the Intermediate Level Shaolin Kung Fu:
- “Shaolin 6”
- “Shaolin 7”
- “Shaolin 8”
- Shaolin Staff 2-Man form: “Fire & Water”
- Shaolin Advanced Staff form: “Ground Demon Staff”
- Single Broadsword form of the Tai Chi Praying Mantis system: “Jade Ring Dao”
- Shaolin Double Saber
- 2-Man Chin Na form
- “Hard Soft” Praying Mantis form
- “Piercing Hand” Praying Mantis form
- “Bunbo” Praying Mantis form
- “Large Cross” Praying Mantis form
- “Small Cross” Praying Mantis form
Then he learned the Advanced Level Shaolin Kung Fu:
- “Shaolin 2”
- “Shaolin 4”
- “Shaolin 5”
- Shaolin Spear
- Luohan Straight Sword
- 9-Section Whip Chain
- Double Tiger Hook Swords
- “Monkey Steals A Peach” Praying Mantis form
- “Monkey Escapes From The Cave” Praying Mantis form
- “Plum Blossom” Praying Mantis form
- “Plum Flower Falling” Praying Mantis form
- “Plum Flower Fist” Praying Mantis form
Then he learned the Shifu Level Shaolin Kung Fu:
- “Shaolin 1”
- “Shaolin 3”
- “Shaolin 9”
- “Shaolin 10”
- Iron Palm Training
- Shaolin Short Staff
- Taoist Staff
- Kwan Do (Southern Style from Taoist Steve Baugh)
- 3-Sectional Staff
- “Ground Mantis” Praying Mantis form
- “Upper 8 Elbows” Praying Mantis form
- “Lower 8 Elbows” Praying Mantis form
- “Half-Drunken Mantis” Praying Mantis form
- Shaolin Monk Spade
Ten years later after founding the Shaolin Chi Mantis system Richard learned:
- Shaolin “Fatal Flute”
- Shaolin Hook Cane
- Chen Tai Chi Chuan
- “Lian Bu” from Grandmaster Wong Jack Man who then certified Richard, now known as Zhen Shen-Lang “Spirit Wolf of Truth” as an official Chinese Jing Mo school after reviewing his training and altering a few Kung Fu moves he’d learned at Tai Mantis. (Dr. Kam Yuen was a student of Shifu Wong Jack Man in the 1960s.)
By 1996 Buddha Zhen Shen-Lang had taught in a maximum security prison a couple years, YWCA, Liberty Park, Bennion Elementary, Unitarian Church, Church of Religious Science, Church of the Inner Christ, Salt Lake Continuing Education night classes and performed with his Shaolin Chi Mantis Demo Team at Utah State Fair, Annual Asian Festivals and other events. Buddha Zhen also competed in some tournaments and was a Tournament Judge many times.
In 1996 Buddha Zhen realized that he knew more Shaolin Kung Fu than any other human had a desire for and ability to learn. So he created the Tai Chi Youth nonprofit education system. Buddha Zhen had also been teaching in several youth centers and rehabilitation centers so this program was designed to be half the pace of this Shaolin Chi Mantis Traditional Buddhist Kung Fu system and without as much emphasis on the Taoism and Zen Buddhism. He took the one-and-a-half year beginner program and stretched it out to three years. Adults loved the pace of this program also.
Buddha Zhen the Music Artist
As a rock & roll hippie of the 1960s I’ve been performing onstage since 1967 on guitar, flute, bass and lead vocals. When I started playing the Chinese pipa (4-string lute) and bamboo flutes I studied traditional Chinese music and performed annually in Utah at fairs and the Chinese senior centers. When I recorded my first album of “Chinese Folk Rock” it was Americanized by me into a mixture of traditional and my own blues influences. My first album TAI CHI MAGIC 1 was recorded in 1994 and released on my Shaolin Records independent record label in 2009. It has been used in sports arena events and Yoga classes. I hope you find it inspiring and entertaining.
Songs of Tai Chi Magic 1
- Tai Chi Magic (This theme song was used for all our Tai Chi Chuan performances since 1994.)
- Sparrows in the Daoist Courtyard
- Inner Mountain View
- In the Pool of Enlightenment
- Inner Will (This song was used by the Shaolin Chi Mantis and Tai Chi Youth Demo teams to enter the stage.)
- Road to the Mountaintop
- Dao Mountain Monastery
- Silk Mushroom
- Boundless Space (People have told me they enjoy this song for meditation and Yoga practice.)
- Pushing Hands (This song was written as I imagined two persons competing in Tai Chi Chuan PUSHING HANDS.)
- Night Blue Sky (This song can also be used for practicing Tai Chi Chuan at a slower pace.)
Welcome To Shaolin Zen
Shaolin Zen is the Zen Buddhism of Shaolin Chi Mantis Traditional Buddhist Kung Fu schools.
The original Zen Buddhism of the original Shaolin Temple included the original Shaolin Kung Fu. So a traditional Zen Buddhist is a Kung Fu Master–or they’re–not Zen.
An unhealthy body includes an unhealthy mind. So let’s get your body healthy. Then let’s get your mind healthy. Then let’s get your spirt healthy with noble, righteous goals and ambitions.
All of my students will tell you how their lives improved as their health improved.
This is the original Shaolin Zen website of 1999. It was last modified/updated in 2006.