Arriving in Shanghai a little later than expected due to some technical problems. I walked through Terminal 2’s of Shanghai’s Hongqiao airport and bought my ticket to Zhenjiang. The ticket was reasonably priced at 109 rmb for the 1.5 hour journey. Considering the various transfers and rural transport modes I’m used to taking to visit schools this was going to be a very straightforward journey and one that even the most green western adventure martial artist with little to no Chinese language skills could accomplish with relative ease.

1.5 hours later I was in Zhenjiang and heading to the Xijindu area of the city where I would be meeting up with Scott and would also be staying for the duration of my trip.  Xijindu is located in the northern foot of Yuntai Mountain below a stunning pogoda over looking the city. It’s composed of the Ancient Xijin Ferry and Xiaomatou Street and the area contains the most and best-preserved cultural relics and historical sites of Zhenjiang. The area is picturesque has handcraft shops, restaurants and bars, and more. All of which are blended into a historic setting.

Xijindu Area
Xijindu Area

Normally, when I visit a school I stay in the standard student accommodation to get a feel for the school and also so I can get stuck into the school training with the various masters. This time however, as the school’s accommodation was still being developed and most of the masters have yet to arrive I stayed in a hotel Scott recommend and treated myself to a soft bed and an air conditioned room, which considering the heat was thoroughly made use of.  A room for a night in at the holiday inn in Xijindu works out at approximately 300 rmb per night. For those on a budget hostel accommodation in the same area works out at 55-200 rmb for either a shared or private room.

Rested and refreshed I met up with Scott in the hotel lobby and we headed to a local restaurant also in Xijindu to grab a bite to eat and catch up. Scott explained that at his kung fu school the food was good but simple and healthy so wherever away from the school on business or when traveling he enjoyed eating some of the things he couldn’t get back in Taining, Fujian.

Not one to turn down good food we headed to a local restaurant. and sat down to a 5 course meal for 160 rmb. I figured that the 5 courses and the restaurants relaxing environment would give me ample time and a great opportunity to quiz Scott on his new martial arts school and the challenges ahead.

The awesome food of Xijindu
The awesome food of Xijindu

1. Scott you came to China in 2003 with every intention of staying a year then returning to the UK. What happened that changed your mind? And how did that lead you to becoming the first western to open a residential Martial Arts School in China? “When I came to China I went to a school in Siping. I’d no real idea what it would be like but expected the training to be hard and the quality to be high. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and it was that experience that led me in 2007 to open the Rising Dragon Martial Arts School in Taining County, Fujian Province.”

2. Scott, I remember the first time I visited RDS in Fujian and was blown away by its stunning location and the talented group of masters you’d brought together to teach your western students.  Your school has even performed live on TV with Jackie Chan and has also been featured in Chris Crudelli’s latest kung fu documentary series. With the foundation of such a successful school in Taining why the move? “Since starting RDS my drive has always been to make my school one of the best martial arts school’s in China. Each year the school has continued to grow and expand and I have been working hard to  improve the schools existing facilities and accommodation. As a result I drafted up a redevelopment plan for the site with better accommodation choices a temple within the grounds. These plans were then given the ahead by the local government however, when the recent change in Chinese national and local government happened everything slowed down to a stand still. I guess I just got tired of the small town mentality in Taining.

Chris Crudell visits Rising Dragon School to film a part of his new kung fu documentary series.
Chris Crudelli visits Rising Dragon School to film a part of his new kung fu documentary series.

I’ve worked hard for seven years without a break on the school in Taining and since that time I have continued to evolve.  With that so has my ideas and plans for the school. So now its time for a change.”

3. Okay, so before we move on to the next part of our interview which will be all about your new school and will let our readers and indeed potential future students know about the plans you have for the school, can you first tell us what things you’ll miss about the old school. I am sure there will be lots of returning students visiting your new school that will relate to this and have fond memories about RDS Taining? “Although I have some great memories of the old school, to be honest I’m really not that sentimental about the move. Actually, I’m really excited about the change and can’t wait to move.

When I first opened the school in 2007 I wanted a location that was remote and I found one that was stunning. Now I want something that offers a great environment for studying martial arts but also more of the creature comforts. But if I there was something it would be our mountain training runs. The run was about 5 km and we used to run along a mountain path to a remote lake where you could cool off and swim. Luckily however, the new location is going to be equally as good.”

A view from the mountain path along side the lake RDS Taining students used to run along during special training sessions.
A view from the mountain path along side the lake RDS Taining students used to run along during special training sessions.

The final installment and full details on Scott’s plans for RDS II coming soon…….

If you want to study martial arts in China make http://www.StudyMartialArts.Org your first contact for information on schools, training discounts and travel and training resources all at no additional cost.

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