Published: 03/07/2014 02:00 - Updated: 02/07/2014 10:13

Students get their kicks from kung fu monk

Written byEilidh Davies


Shaolin monk Shi YanTi leads the kung fu seminar in Nairn.
Shaolin monk Shi YanTi leads the kung fu seminar in Nairn.
A NAIRN man who is the only kung fu fighting monk in Scotland has welcomed one of the highest ranking monks in China to his home town.


Paul Nicol, who became the first Scottish disciple of China’s Shaolin temple in 2012, said it had been great to welcome Shi YanTi to the Highlands.

He said the visit had been brilliant and gave his students the chance to be taught by a monk direct from the Shaolin temple – the first time a monk from the temple has ever visited Scotland. 

The 38-year-old of Moss-side Road, said: “Shi YanTi came over for five days and taught my students at a two-day seminar. They all had a brilliant time and were in awe of him the whole weekend. He really trained them hard. It was a chance of a lifetime for them to train with a high ranking monk from the temple.”

The painter and decorator with Highland Painting and Decorating by day, he first met Shi YanTi during his visits to the temple where he taught Mr Nicol, who has the disciple name Shi Yan Lan. Shi is the Buddhist family name, Yan means 36th generation and Lan is for Scotland.

He added: “We really got to know each other well in between the gruelling training and became good friends. On my discipleship day he really looked after me and helped me through the ceremonies with the abbot.

“I think it was special for him to have a foreign student of his to become a disciple of his temple. We became Shaolin brothers that day.

“So ever since I returned we have been keeping in touch. It turned out that he was travelling to Italy for a while to spread the Shaolin culture. So I grabbed the chance to get him over to stay with me in Scotland.”

Mr Nicol, who lives with his wife Donna and three-year-old son Tenzin Li, has been training in Shaolin kung fu for around 20 years. Prior to that he studied karate from the age of eight.

Mr Nicol, who has 20 students, found his teacher Neil Genge in Bristol, who at the time was the only Shaolin teacher in the UK. He would regularly drive or fly from his home in Nairn to the south-west of England.

He added: “In 2002 my dream came true and I travelled to the Shaolin temple in China to train with the monks for around a month. It was an amazing experience and everything I expected it to be.”

Mr Nicol, who has returned to the temple twice since then, runs Scotland’s only Shaolin kung fu school in Nairn every Tuesday.

He stated: “I am planning opening a class in Inverness very soon which I’m excited about. I have also been asked to be guest instructor at events throughout the Highlands which is very flattering and I now have a demonstration team for performances.

“We performed for the Chinese community in Inverness at Chinese New Year and have done many charity event demos so far this year.”

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