The Bodhidharma and “A Sudden Dawn” by Goran Powell

February 5, 2013

An Indian prince, Siddartha Guatama, became the Buddha in the 6th Century BC, and recorded history says Buddhism first arrived in China about four hundred years later—more than two centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ.

After the Buddha died, tradition says that Buddhism split—Christianity and Islam also split into different sects after the founders died—into two major branches that divided again several times over the centuries. Today, Buddhism has about 379 million followers and is the world’s fifth largest religion.

The Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk and a teacher who lived during the fifty and/or sixth century AD—about twelve-hundred years after Buddha.

A Sudden Dawn is an epic historical fiction novel that opens with a young man named Sardili born in 507 AD to the Indian warrior caste.

The author of A Sudden Dawn is Goran Powell, 4th dan, GojuRyu Karate. He is an author of two martial arts books, a freelance writer in London and a recipient of numerous advertising awards. Powell is a regular contributor to martial arts magazines and has twice appeared on the cover of Traditional Karate Magazine. This is his first novel. Powell resides in London with his wife and three children.

In A Sudden Dawn, Sardili realizes that he would rather seek enlightenment than follow his family’s military legacy and he sets out on a life-long quest for truth and wisdom that leads him to China where he becomes the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma, known as Da Mo in China.

Da Mo establishes the Shaolin Temple as the birthplace of Zen and the Martial Arts. In ancient China, bandits and thieves were widespread and Buddhist temples were vulnerable to attack. The Da Mo taught a fighting system for the monks to defend themselves, and it proved successful. Over time, the Buddhist Shaolin style of martial arts evolved to what it is today.

The discovery of Bodhidarma’s burial temple in China

What do others say about Goran Powell’s historical fiction novel?

Harriet Klausner, the #1 Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer, says, “This is an entertaining biographical fiction that enables the reader to understand the life of the founder of the Shaolin movement; in fact the temple Bodhidharma constructed over fifteen centuries ago is still there. Although the romance elements feel forced, the era and the hero come across vividly clear. Readers who appreciate a deep ancient Asian tale will enjoy this super glimpse at a devoted sixth century legendary Buddhist monk.”

L.A. Kane, an Amazon Vine Voice and an Amazon top 1,000 reviewer says, “I’ve read thousands of novels, hundreds of terrific tomes, yet A Sudden Dawn easily makes my top ten. It does not matter if you know of Bodhidharma, care about martial arts, or can even spell the word “Shaolin,” if you have any interest whatsoever in historical fiction you will be captivated by this extraordinary tale. …”

Shawn Kovacich, an Amazon Vine Voice, says, “Being a long time practitioner of the martial arts I tend to be very subjective and quite picky when it comes to fictionalized accounts of the martial arts and martial arts fighting. However, I found that all of my preconceived notions and prejudices were totally unfounded concerning this very well written and totally engrossing novel based upon historical events and people (to a certain extent). … It is that good!”

Discover Cults and Christian Cannon Balls


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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China’s Kung Fu Metamorphosis

May 22, 2011

Last June (2010), Tom Carter wrote five guest posts about Martial Arts in China, and the same month I wrote about a movie, The Karate Kid, starring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chang.

I’ve never been to Wudang Mountain (at last not yet), which is well known for its deep-rooted tradition of wushu (martial arts).

Watching Jackie Chang and Jaden Smith climb that long, narrow stairway reminded me of mountains I’ve climbed that challenged my breath and made my heart pound.

Tom Carter’s guest posts came with a few of the photos that he shot while there.

However, in the March 2011 National Geographic Magazine (NGM), we read of the Battle for the Soul of Kung Fu and discover that as the world and China changes, so does this ancient world of Martial Arts that has been steeped in tradition for millennia.

In Tom Carter’s first guest post on this subject, he wrote, “Located atop the western peak of the sacred Song Shan Mountain in northern Henan province, 800 year-old Shaolin Si has been destroyed and rebuilt time and again, weathering attacks by emperors, warlords, cultural revolutions, and now its most reoccurring invaders – the modern tour group.”

It’s the modern tour group Carter mentions that challenges China’s Kung Fu.

NGM says the city of Dengfeng (population about 600,000), China’s kung fu capital, boasts some 60 martial arts schools and attracts about 50,000 students from all over China.

Shaolin Si

A time line in the NGM piece shows the oldest Chinese reference to martial arts was in the 11th century B.C., more than three thousand years ago, and in 2010, the Shaolin Temple was named a UNESCO World Heritage site.

One element of the philosophy behind Kung Fu was explained by a master, “In each boy, he looks for respectfulness and a willingness to ‘eat bitterness’, learning to welcome hardship, using it to discipline the will and forge character.”

It seems the more things change, the more they stay the same.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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