Here is a guide to searching for kung fu schools in China. It’s a general checklist of what to look for in a great kung fu school. First, decide where you want to travel, live, and train in China. Decide which style you want to practise and how you will train. What is the general atmosphere of the martial arts academy like?
There are kung fu schools all over China.
The Shaolin Temple is in the heart of China’s martial arts. It is located in Henan Province, a poorer part of China. Don’t expect to live in luxury hotels; it’s more like hardcore living. Not everyone who travels here is happy with the learning experience; they feel it has become too commercial and some of the masters teaching are “soft”. Still, many like to come here for a variety of reasons: the history (millions of monks have trained here), the atmosphere (seeing hundreds and thousands of students training can be quite exciting), the performance (some prefer modern wushu over traditional), and the chance to learn from a good master.
Wudang Mountain This place is mysterious and legendary. With the wispy clouds and temples clinging to cliffs, it is sure to be a favourite for many. The styles mainly taught here are considered internal. styles such as Tai Chi, Bagua, Baiji, and Xingyi. They also practise Qigong, but are not considered Wudang style per se.
Chen Village is also called Chenjiaogou. It’s all Tai Chi. For those into Tai Chi, it can’t get more hard-core than here. Although it is a small farming village of 3,000 people, 2,500 of them practise the arts. Several legendary masters teach here, such as Wang Xi’an.
Beijing has many masters who train and teach in the schools as well as in the parks. If you go to the Temple of Heaven and the Temple of Earth early in the morning, you will see many people training and training. Beijing Sports University trains many elite Wu Shu performers, such as Jet Li.
Shandong province is known for its praying mantis, and there are also several Shaolin masters teaching there. Several schools have been established for westerners and masters teaching in the park.
The KeyThings You Should Knowthat not all the masters in the schools will be the best. Some of the best are hidden in small groups training early in the morning. Explore your options.
Type of workout:
Training Kung Fu Forms: Forms and exercises are a part of all kung fu.Some kung fu schools focus more on the performance side of it, as in modern wu shu, and some are more traditional in the way they teach the uses of the forms. Both are fine to study in; you just need to be clear about what you want to get out of the training. Some traditional kung fu is not as pretty, but can be much more effective in self-defence and applying force.
Application of kung fu forms: If you want to learn how to defend yourself and make kung fu effective, you need to practise the applications regularly. This includes a kind of sparring. Some masters have different theories about sparring. Some say you have to wait until you reach a certain level before making full contact and learning a safer “one-step” sparring technique where one person attacks and the other defends in a specific way. This is useful for practising the specific action in a more “live” way to build muscle memory. Others will prefer that students start sparring right away, but at half power. To really learn how to fight and defend yourself, there’s no other way to put on the gloves and knock them out, and see how you react under pressure and pain.
The Masters: The master you train with will make all the difference in your experience. First, the master must be good, and if he/she claims a lineage, they can prove it. Apart from skill and teaching ability, a good master will have a positive attitude and be able to take the students to the next level. The master should have a similar attitude to training as you. Some practise it as a peaceful lifestyle, others learn it to compete, fight, and get tough. For example, different styles will emphasise each area differently. For example, Tai Chi is about harmony, while Crazy Monk Kung Fu is about devastating attacks. Just make sure the master is someone you look up to and respect.
The Kung Fu School
Kung Fu Schools: The schools vary quite a bit in China. Some are opened by locals and others by westerners. In general, however, the main things to look for are:
- Bedrooms: Are you going to share a room? What is the condition of the rooms? What’s in it? internet? bedding? table? Heating in winter: some places can be a bit cold.
- Food: What kind of food do they serve? Some places follow a special diet, so check if they are all vegetarian or not. If you have any special requests, check if they can arrange them for you. Ask if they can avoid monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is in most Chinese dishes. Most places can avoid it.
- Showers and bathrooms—is it a communal shower or bathroom or personal? Most likely, it will be the community.
- Payments: What is the total fee you have to pay in advance? Some schools divide the cost between “tuition” and “cost of living”, others group it as one award. What kind of refund will they offer (if any)? How is the school generally run? China has different ways of doing business and this has caused conflict in the past, so read the experiences of other students to get a good feel for the school.
- Does the training hall have sparring gear? Weight sets? Exercise indoors or outdoors. How often will you train? Most schools will provide at least the basics, with weapons and an indoor training hall.
- Atmosphere: How is the atmosphere at the school? Is it organised and disciplined? Do classes start on time? What is the attitude of the students? The best way to know is when you contact the school. Do they respond quickly and answer your questions? Also check whether you can reach and email previous students. Ask what their typical day looks like. What did they think of the masters, the staff, the food, other students, and how gung-ho were they about education? What does the environment look like? Is it in the city or in the countryside? How far is it from the city? You can also look online at various forums and reviews that have been written. The more questions and research you do before you go, the better your experience will be.
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