We are first and foremost a community. Whenever I’ve been asked to describe what I love about our specific branch of martial arts, it’s the aspect of community that has always come to mind. Communities are support centers, safe havens, and even a place of learning. They say “It takes a village to raise a child,” but I’d take that a step further and add “and it takes a community to support a village.”
The great thing about our modern age is that the restriction of location is eliminated by the means of technology (we even have our own online community that connects us over great distances!) That leaves the requirement of common characteristics. The characteristic that runs through each and every member of our community is simply this: an empathic heart. Simple in concept, but absolutely critical for the function of our community.
“We are Shaolin. We walk our path, a noble path. We belong to all and are restricted by none.”
The “all” that we are looking for are the kind and gentle souls, the compassionate beings, the open-minded and the humble. Regardless of race, creed, religion, gender, identity, preference, age, color, or citizenship. We are looking for these individuals to join our community. To help and uplift humanity. To be blessed, and be a blessing.
Si Bok Matthew Ruhl
he/himSi Bok Matthew Ruhl began his journey at the age of 12, when he was enrolled in the Peaceful Warriors program at the Tucson school. Originally from Long Island, NY, Matthew found himself struggling with the change when his family moved to Arizona in 1998. At the height of his difficulty with bullying and self confidence he was introduced to Si Gong Robert Firestine, and a lifetime relationship as student and friend began. He started assistant teaching alongside Si Gong Robert Firestine at the age of fifteen, and eventually as he came of age began teaching his own adult level class. Si Bok Matthew is now a sixth-degree black belt and has spent his career teaching, both in public schools and in our Shaolin community, to share his passion for the arts. In 2018 he and Si Mo Shannon were married and made the move to the Portland area to start their own branch of the school they love so much.
Si Mo Shannon Ruhl
she/herSi Mo Shannon Ruhl grew up in a small family with little community. When she moved to Tucson, AZ in 2014, she had recently been through a traumatizing relationship and sought an art that would teach her how to defend herself. Luckily, right next door to the yoga studio she was attending was a large red sign reading “Girl Power”. Signing on to take classes, she expected to learn how to kick and punch, but ended up learning so much more. She found that Kung Fu challenged her mind, as well as her body, and had to work through the emotional roadblocks that kept her from living her life to its full potential. She learned that loving yourself, and believing you are worth the effort is the key to growth and happiness. Now, years later, she hopes to help bring this community and all of its love to the Portland area, and hopefully, teach others how to love themselves as well.
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