This is not new, but I had an interesting conversation with a friend about Buddhism recently (a religion and philosophy I have felt connected to since a boy and recently have began living my life by), which made me want to post about it. This is a video of “Buddhist Monks” performing Hip Hop dance/B-boying as a tribute to musician & humanitarian Adam “MCA” Yauch of the Beastie Boys, who himself was a devout Buddhist who fought for Tibetan independence.
MCA-DAY “Buddhist Monks” B-Boy Tribute – The words “Buddhist Monks” are in quotes because they are not actually monks, but are dancers who are performing a routine choreographed by Pavan Thimmaiah, styled by Maria Palmeri. However, if you read comments on Youtube or Facebook (a reliable source of intellectual thinking, I know), you will surely find people commenting that those “buddhists” are being sacrilegious, not being devout, because they are dancing to Hip Hop. Others will argue over whether or not those are “real” buddhist monks, whether or not they would really be doing that, or whether it is disrespectful to portray the monks like that.
Although it is probably not the case in this video, it actually isn’t that far-fetched for monks to have learned how to “break“. Buddhist monks spend time working on improving the body and mind. This includes meditation, study, prayer and yes, physical exercise. This has led to martial arts being practiced by buddhist monks, for physical, mental and spiritual health. There are even styles of kung fu developed by monks, the “Lion’s Roar” of which there are variations from Lama Pai, to Tibetan White Crane, to Hop Gar and other lineages. These styles bear influences of martial arts from China, Tibet and India, but regardless of where they originated from, they have been practiced by monks from Shaolin to Tibet since at least the 1400’s.
The monks practice martial arts to push your body to the limits of physical possibilities, to discipline your mind and body, to achieve great strength, flexibility and balance, mastering the mind by mastering the body, for longevity, health and a sense of well being. Well, if you think about it, serious dancers also combine rigorous training, exercise, and self-discipline to put on incredible displays of strength, beauty and balance. Combined with music, this is extremely artistic and spiritual. As strong as most breakers are, and with the kicks, lunges, windmills and other acrobatics, there is certainly an aspect of self-defense involved as well. Not to mention, BBoys have incorporated martial arts moves into their dance routines since the beginning. They even perform ritualized simulations of combat (‘battles‘) in competition.
Hip Hop is everywhere. Asian youth have embraced the music, art, dance forms and fashion for years. Besides, exiled from their homeland, the Tibetan Lamas now live here in New York City. Is it farfetched to imagine a day in the near future where some buddhist monks, immersed in Hip Hop culture growing up, take to practicing Hip Hop dance, as part of their daily routine? After all, Hip Hop is Universal and so is Buddhism. Namaste. Buddha Bless. Peace Out.