Cities famous for Martial Arts in China – Cangzhou City, Hebei

The-Iron-Lion

by Greg Bundage

Cangzhou City is in the South-east of Hebei Province and is called the martial arts and acrobatics village – one of the birthplaces of Chinese martial arts. It has a population of about half a million and is only 90 km from Tienjin, a major port city 180 km south of Beijing.

Cangzhou is the famous hometown of martial  arts. Enjoying equal fame with central China’s Dengfeng and southeast China’s  Putian, Cangzhou is one of the three traditional martial arts centers. With a long history, Cangzhou has various martial arts sects. A person born in  Cangzhou is probably going to be asked whether he is good at martial arts during his first meeting with others.

In the late Qing Dynasty, many martial arts masters emerged. The most famous master is Wang Wu, who was called Big Blade. Another master Huo Yuanjia (1868-1910 A.D.), whose original family home was in Cangzhou, was regarded as a national hero for his continuous victories over foreign challengers.

There are over 600 martial arts schools in  Cangzhou now, where martial arts fans from all over the world learn and practice martial arts. In local middle and primary schools, martial arts are  listed on sports courses. More than 300 schools established their own martial arts teams. Martial arts have become an important cultural industry in the  city. Many people make their living by teaching martial arts. However, most people practice martial arts for body building and health.
Source: http://www.kungfumagazine.com/forum/showthread.php?t=58645
Source: (Xinhua/Chen Xiaowei)

Bājíquán (Chinese: 八極拳; pinyinBājíquán;Japanese: 八極拳, Hakkyokuken) is a Chinese martial art that features explosive, short-range power and is famous for its elbow strikes.  It originated in Hebei Province in Northern China, but is also well-known in other places today, especially Taiwan. Its full name is kai men baji quan (開門八極拳), which means “open-gate eight-extremities fist”.

Baji quan was originally called bazi quan (巴子拳 or 鈀子拳) or “rake fist” because the fist, held loosely and slightly open, are used to strike downwards in a rake-like fashion. The name was considered to be rather crude in its native tongue, so it was changed to baji quan. The term baji comes from the Daoist classic, the Yijing(I-Ching), and signifies an “extension of all directions”. In this case, it means “including everything” or “the universe.”

The first recorded baji quan teacher was Wu Zhong 吳鍾 (1712–1802). Famous teachers that promoted the style included Wu Xiufeng 吳秀峰 and Li Shuwen 李書文 (1864–1934). The latter was from Cangzhou, Hebei, and earned himself the nickname “God of Spear Li”. A Peking opera Wu Shen (martial male character) by training, he was also an expert fighter. His most famous quote is, “I do not know what it’s like to hit a man twice.” Li Shuwen’s students included Huo Dian Ge 霍殿閣 (bodyguard to Pu Yi, the last Emperor of China), Li Chenwu (bodyguard to Mao Zedong), and Liu Yun Qiao 劉雲樵 (secret agent for the nationalist Kuomintangand instructor of the bodyguards of Chiang Kai Shek). Baji quan has since acquired a reputation as the “bodyguard style”.

Baji quan shares roots with another Hebei martial art, Piguazhang. It is said that Wu Zhong, the oldest traceable master in the baji lineage, taught both arts together as an integrated fighting system. They eventually split apart, only to be recombined by Li Shuwenin the late 18th to early 19th century. As a testament to the complementary nature of these two styles, there is a proverb that goes: “When pigua is added to baji, gods and demons will all be terrified. When baji is added to pigua, heroes will sigh knowing they are no match against it.” (八極參劈掛,神鬼都害怕。劈掛參八極,英雄嘆莫及)
Source: Wikipedia

This article was featured in www.fightingartsasia.com

Here are two schools in Cangzhou carrying on the tradition for teaching martial arts as well as intensive full time kung fu training in China. 

The Bajiquan International Training Center

school imageThe Bajiquan International Training Center is school dedicated to teaching students the art of Baji Quan. Located in the Muslim autonomous county of Mengcun, Cangzhou City in Hebei province in the historical home of Baji Quan (Eight extremes fist). The school lineage is steeped in Wu family history and prestige, boasting a long line of family masters. At the school you can learn Bajiquan, Pigua, Sanda, Liu He Fist, Tantui, Cha Fist and Taizu Fist.

Facilities: Impressive training facilities both indoor and outdoor as well as excellent student living conditions.

Training at the Baji Quan International Training Center focuses on Baji Quan.  At the school you will train in Baji Quan basics, theory and the history of Baji, “assault methods of Bajiquan” as well as tactics for Baji competition. You will learn a comprehensive system of attack, defense and wrestling and be exposed to Dazhuang and Kaozhuang as well as the school’s Qigong and traditional Chinese medicine.

Additional styles taught to supplement your Bajiquan include the following Piguazhang, Liu He Fist, Tantui, Cha Fist and Taizu Changquan.

Each day students will train for at least 6 hours, 6 days per week with a Monday off as a day of rest. And all students have access to the excellent school facilities, training and conditioning equipment.

Typical Training Schedule: 

Morning Training – 9am – 11am
Afternoon Training – 3pm – 5pm
Evening Training – 7pm – 9pm

The Curriculum:

1. Theory & Philosophy
2. Stance Training
3. Explosive Power Training
4. Internal Training
5. Fighting Techniques
6. Fighting Tactics
7. Forms
8. Weapons

Prices: Prices per month start from 6000 RMB / $900 USD for food, accommodation and tuition. You can learn more about the school here.

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Cangzhou Technical College

Cangzhou Technical College is a full-time state run vocational college where you can study wushu in China. Students can chose to study for either a full semester or on a monthly basis. Both options are the cheapest I have seen to date in China.

The course includes an introduction to wushu, taiji, baduanjin, wuxinggong and wushu culture. Along side the martial arts studies participants of this course can expect to learn the Chinese language, Calligraphy and also take part in local tours to kung fu schools and visits to various local martial arts masters of interest.

Prices: Tuition and Accommodation for a semester 4600 RMB / $695 USD or for a month 1500 RMB / $226 USD.

Full details of this Wushu Course with Cangzhou Technical College as well as full details on the Bajiquan International Training Center can be provided on request when you visit StudyMartialArts.Org or email info@studymartialarts.org.

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How to practice Liu Zi Jue – The six healing sounds

Practice Tips

Liu Zi Jue is a set of Qigong exercises for health and fitness. During the exercise breath work, pronunciation and movement are combined. The following provides beginners and advanced practitioners with tips for perfecting the exercise.

Adjusting the mouth forms and feeling the air flow

Mouth forms should be done correctly with particular attention given to pronunciation and air flow. Beginners should find the right mouth form and then exhale with gently making the sound.

Combining the mind with breathing and movements

Renmai
Renmai
Dumai meridian
Dumai meridian

During practice the mind should be relaxed and in tune with the movements and the accompanying prolonged breathing and pronunciation. Excessive effort in the mind and body should be avoided. Focus should be on the breath work in a way that it is combined with physical movements that assists and compliment and enhance the practice.

It helps to relax the body and calm the mind, and dredge such meridians as Renmai (or conception vessel extending along the anterior midline of the body) to improve the circulation of the blood and vital energy.

Breathing with slight control

Liu Zi Jue should be done naturally using regress breathing.

Regress breathing occurs when inhalation is done through the nose and the chest is expanded while pulling in the abdomen. On the out breath this should be reversed through the mouth, increasing upward and downward movements diaphragm. This process both massages the organs and improves the circulation of blood and vital energy. Excessive efforts should be avoided.

Coordinating breathing with slow, realised and gentle movements

During practice even, prolonged and relaxed breathing and pronunciation will achieve the best results.

Step by step for consistency

Find a quiet place to practice in peace, be consistent in your practice. An environment that relaxes and allows the mind to be at peace is essential as is confidence in the exercises health benefits.

This article is based on studies and guidance compiled by the Chinese Health Qigong Association. 

Learn Liu Zi Jue, the Six Healing Sounds

Introduction

Liu Zi Jue is a traditional Chinese health practice. Liu Zi Jue or Six Healing Sounds is an exercise that regulates and controls the rise and fall of Qi inside the body and related in halation and exhalation through different mouth forms.

The six healing sounds are “XU, HE, HU,SI, CHUI and XI” and their aim is the strengthening of the liver, heart, spleen, lungs, kidneys and sanjiao (the three portions of the body cavities housing the internal organs). The exercises are designed to be completed slowly, gently, with extended and graceful movements.

Practitioners of these exercises report not only that they have experienced a general improvement in their quality of life but also that they have experienced an improvement in their social relationships. With decreased family frictions ranking among the top benefits of this practice. This is likely due to the calmness brought about by the gentile breathing movements. Other medical tests have shown positive improvements and curing of hypertension, hyperlipidemia and high blood sugar.

This article is based on the work of the Chinese Health Qigong Association.

Origins and Development of Liu Zi Jue

The term Liu Zi Jue first appears in ‘Caring for the Health of the Mind and Prolonging the Life Span’, – Tao Hongjing of the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589).

According to Tao Hongjing a leading figure from the Maoshan School of Taoism. “One has only one way for inhalation, but six for exhalation – CHUI, HU, XI, HE, XU and SI. CHUI gets rid of heat; HU sweeps away wind; XI eliminates worries; HE promotes the circulation of energy; XU drives away cold; and SI reduces stress. Those with heart disease should practice CHUI and HU, to drive away cold and heat. Those with lung disease should practice XU, to relieve swelling. Those who have spleen trouble should practice XI, to eliminate stress. As for those who suffer from liver disease, HE will help to cure it.”

Zou Pu’an of the Song Dynasty (960-1279) in his book ‘The Supreme Knack for Health Preservations’ recommends.

“Don’t listen to anything when pronouncing the sounds. Close your mouth, lower your head after finishing, breath in fresh air from the universe slowly through the nose. Don’t listen to anything when inhaling.”

In terms of the practice it was not until the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) that body movements where introduced.

“Open the eyes wide when doing the XU Exercise for the liver. Raise the arms when doing the SI Exercise for the lungs. Stick head up and cross the hands when doing the HE Exercise for the heart. Keep the knees level when doing the CHUI Exercise for the kidneys. Thrust and round the lips when doing the HU Exercise for the spleen, and lie down when doing the XI Exercise to drive heat from Sanjiao”

There are a number of exercises which use elements of Liu Zi Jue. These include Yi Jin Jing (Tendon-Muscle Strengthening Exercises), Emei Zhuang (Emei Stake Exercises), Xing Yi Quan (12-Animal Shadow Boxing), Bagua Zhang (Eight-Diagram Palm), and Da Yan Gong (Wild Goose Exercises). For these exercises the sounds are used to aid these dynamic physical exercises.

Theory

The theoretical basis of the Liu Zi Jue is Traditional Chinese Medicine‘s (TCM) Five Elements (metal, wood, water, fire and earth), and Five Solid Viscera (heart, liver, spleen, lungs and kidneys).

Characteristic

Mouth forms required for pronunciation

Liu Zi Jue features six special mouth forms and methods of pronunciation to regulate and control the rise and fall of qi in the body and related to inhalation and exhalation.

Combining breathing and movements with cultivation of energy

Through combined use of breath work, pronunciation, and physical movement practitioners can benefit from “proper internal circulation of energy vital for the health, and those who know the ways to apply strength and the ways to relax can expect a long life’ – Ge Hong of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420).

Dynamics infused in calmness and flowing grace

During practice pronunciation should be even and extended and the movements relaxed and slow. Regulated breathing should be even during the postures cultivating a calm and dynamic state.

Simple, reliable and effective

The six sounds are pronounced during exhalations and accompany nice movements as well as the preparatory and concluding postures. The exercise is easy to learn and practice making it practical.

Best Kung Fu School in China for Kids

This is my list of the best kung fu schools in China for 2017. In this article I have chosen only the very best kung fu schools based on what they offer in terms of training, location, food and how well they cater to kids. Each year we will update this list based our school visits and student reviews.

Best for Kids

Best Martial Arts School for Kids
Best Kung Fu School for Kids

I have chosen Yuntai Shan International Culture and Martial Arts School as being the best school for kids 12-16 because unlike other martial arts schools this one offers an authentic opportunity for your children to interact and train with other Chinese kung fu students of a similar age. This means that they are not forced to hangout with older students, and so are less likely to be exposed to inappropriate language or behaviour.

Another benefit of this schools is that throughout the day students are expected to present themselves for line ups. This means that students are regularly monitored and accounted for throughout the day. On the downside however, older students can find this tedious. In terms of the schools accommodation and amenities. These are fairly basic and internet connections can be irregular. Nevertheless, this school has much more experience than other schools of a similar nature. Hence it has a better track record of dealing with foreigners.

To find out which school I recommend for Best Location, Best for Kids and Best for Food. Click here. Learn Kung fu in China with StudyMartialArts.Org

To learn kung fu in China or learn more about any of these schools. Visit the StudyMartialArts.Org website or email us direct at info@studymartialarts.org

Best Kung Fu School in China for Location

This is my list of the best kung fu schools in China for 2017. In this article I have chosen only the very best kung fu schools based on what they offer in terms of training, location, food and how well they cater to kids. Each year we will update this list based our school visits and student reviews.

Best Location

Studying Martial Arts in China is gaining in popularity as an adventure travel experience. Part of that experience along with intensive martial arts training is being able to train hard all year round in an environment that not only inspires but adds to your development. Rising Dragon Martial Arts School provides one of the best places to learn martial arts in China.

Best Kung Fu School for Location
Best Kung Fu School for Location

Located in Yong Ping county in Southern Yunnan the province is mountainous and borders Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam, and has an average altitude of 1980m. Yong Ping has a population of around 170,000, and is roughly in between the two Cities of Dali and Bao Shan. Dali and Bao Shan are an hour away from the school.

Immediately surrounding RDS is an area steeped in history. There are numerous temples, scenic areas, mountains, lakes and even natural hot springs for attending students to visit. The School is 15 minutes away from Yong Ping town and is within a million square meter private park. This park is filled with beautiful multi-coloured plants, amazing wild-life, statues, lakes, forests of wild bamboo, as well as RDS’s own temple.

Despite being at an altitude of 1,700m there are many neighbouring mountains that tower over the school reaching altitudes of 4000+m, which make for many a challenging hike during your free time. Considering the schools remoteness it is still quite easy to get to with airports in Bao Shan, Dali City, and Lijiang International airport. The capital, Kunming, is only a 40-minute flight from Dali and Bao Shan making travel very convenient. There are many Kung Fu schools in China, but few can complete with this in terms of location, and low pollution levels.

To find out which school I recommend for Best Location, Best for Kids and Best for Food. Click here. Learn Kung fu in China with StudyMartialArts.Org

To learn kung fu in China or learn more about any of these schools. Visit the StudyMartialArts.Org website or email us direct at info@studymartialarts.org

Best Kung Fu School in China for Training

This is my list of the best kung fu schools in China for 2017. In this article I have chosen only the very best kung fu schools based on what they offer in terms of training, location, food and how well they cater to kids. Each year we will update this list based our school visits and student reviews.

Best Training

Wudang Principles
Best Kung Fu School for Training

Consistently the best kung fu school for training in terms of structure, tuition and depth of transmission is WDP China. The instructors are mostly bi or multi lingual. The school training schedule runs 6 days per week. 7 hours per day. You can see a typical training schedule below.

  • 06:30 – Get Up
  • 07:30-09:40 – Warm Up & Hun Yuan Fa Li, Standing Qigong, Walking Meditation
  • 09:50-12:00 – Morning Class
  • 16:00-17:30 – Afternoon Class
  • 19-00-21:00 – Evening Class

The school curriculum has been systematically developed and taught with modern teaching methods in mind. This curriculum features 8 Trigrams IN-BETWEEN the 4 Instructor-Levels.

Students can choose:

  • WDP CLASSIC (All traditional styles with specific basics, qigong, tao lu and style specific applications)
  • WDP COMBAT (realistic fighting skills using INTERNAL PRINCIPLES of all styles).

In addition to the regular curriculum the school also has, online training, seminars in sword, push hands, body conditioning, hand conditioning, neigong and much more throughout the year.

To find out which school I recommend for Best Location, Best for Kids and Best for Food. Click here. Learn Kung fu in China with StudyMartialArts.Org

To learn kung fu in China or learn more about any of these schools. Visit the StudyMartialArts.Org website or email us direct at info@studymartialarts.org

Practice tips for performing Ba Duan Jin Correctly

Practice Tips

Be Relaxed, Calm and Natural

A relaxed state of mind better eliminates psychological and physiological stresses. A relaxed body better tones muscles joints and organs. Calmness without distraction is the key. The correct mood and environment play a big part in effective practice.

Be Accurate but Flexible

Follow the set practice, the body positions and stances. Using a mirror will be very helpful in the beginning to ensure the directions and angles of the movements are adhered too.

Combine Practice and Conservation

The rigor of the postures and movements, and the application of strength used should be adjusted in accordance with the physical conditions of the practitioner so correct performance is achieved gradually. This will also apply to the adjustment of the breath. Maintaining balance in practice is the key. Balance of mind, body and spirit.

Graduated Progress

Beginners should take it step by step, adjusting practice gradually. Begin with natural breathing and work gradually up to deep breathing through constant and consistent practice.

This article has been based on the detailed works provided by the Chinese Health Qigong Association. Step by step descriptions of the routines can be ordered for free. The only cost will be in the ordering and delivery. Each book ordered includes a DVD allowing proper practice in real time.

For those interested in qigong courses and retreats. Click the following link.

Enrich the body and soul by learning kung fu in China

气功

by Nathan Williams

An experience to enrich the body and soul. The Academy is a great place to live and to learn; the masters are very supportive and the students are like family to me – it feels like a community of like minded people all pulling in the same direction. The location: the Shengjing Shan mountain is breathtakingly beautiful – the many temples and trails and walkways are very serene and tranquil. The surrounding towns can be difficult to navigate around so best to learn from fellow students but you’ll soon find your way around.

Learning a moderate amount of Chinese would be preferably before coming to China because hardly anyone speaks English. There aren’t any Chinese classes at the Academy but it shouldn’t stop you from learning – you’re in China! With language books and language apps you will be able to learn, it just takes time and discipline (luckily you’ll find both here at the academy). Don’t expect to learn in a classroom environment.

I found the accommodation satisfactory and as expected in rural china – you’re staying in a kung fu school, not a hostel. The food is good and again, you’re staying in a kung fu school, not dining out at a restaurant each night. Although there are some authentic Chinese restaurants nearby for special occasions.

Tips: bring cash with you and make sure you can draw money out of your debit/credit card as it can be tricky in China. If you have a problem, it will be difficult to go to a bank and find someone who speaks English. Download a VPN for your phone/laptop so you can access western sites and social media apps, if not, you may find speaking with family and friends back home to be quite difficult. It’s also good to have a hobby outside of training, some learn Chinese, some are working on their own books, some cook, some learn instruments, some just chill and watch movies, some do all of the above. It’s had a profoundly positive affect on me mentally and physically and I am mentally much stronger and more resilient.

“Nathan visited Shengjing Shan Kung Fu Academy for his experience. Others may go else where. Wherever you go whatever you choose to learn. For the majority that decide to learn kung fu in China it is life changing and a positive experience they never forget. For my part I feel blessed not only in helping people find the right school but get the most out of the experience. For the schools it is always my pleasure to send them quality students.” – David Kelly – StudyMartialArts.Org

China’s Confucius Institute

confucius_institute_logoWhat is the Confucius Institute?

The Confucius Institute is a non-profit public educational organization affiliated with the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China. Since its founding in 2004 it has been the main educational organization tasked with the job of promoting Chinese language and culture to the world outside the Middle Kingdom. It seeks to do this through Chinese language courses, and cultural exchanges. These cultural exchanges normally focus on language music, calligraphy, and martial arts.

Due to its status as a non-profit the course and cultural exchanges offered through the institute are not only affordable but often include the chance for student participants to gain free scholarships.

These scholarships allow high school level Chinese language students, college level Chinese students, self-taught Chinese language students and Chinese language teachers and researchers to go to China for a specific period of time and have the chance to choose from more than thirty different destinations from the most well-known and “obvious”, like Beijing and Shanghai, to Harbin, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, and Qingdao, which are less known to the general public. There aren’t yet any scholarships from the Confucius Institute that go to Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Confucius Institute Locations throughout the world

Confucius Institutes’ can now be found all over the world, and through its educational programmes links and relationships are fostered through the promotion of Chinese language and culture. The aim being to promote China, its culture history and language to the world.

Scholarships

Scholarships are awarded for exceptional knowledge of Chinese culture by the Office of Chinese Language Council International (HANBAN) through Chinese Bridge. These scholarships are checked on this site and generally fall into four types.

1 – Brief program of 4 weeks

Financial contribution from Hanban with complete coverage for lodging and the price of the course. Minimum requirements: having completed a HSK exam and not have previously studied in China (that last requirement is decided by the individual Confucius Institutes).

2 – Six month program

A half year in China completely covered by Hanban. Minimum requirements: having reached the HSK at level 3 or greater and the HSKK of any level.

3 – Year Program

Completely covered for a year. Minimum requirements: having reached HSK level 4 and the HSKK intermediate level.

4 – Graduate course for Chinese language education

Complete coverage for two years. Minimum requirements: having reached HSK level 5 and HSKK intermediate.

A few partner universities with the Confucius Institute also make Masters available in conjunction with universities in China mainly centred on production, to put it briefly, two degrees for the price of one. Quite appealing!

conficius-institute-scholarships-2015

Standardised testing

The Confucius Institute organizes Chinese language exams recognized throughout the world. The most important when applying for a scholarship, are HSK and HSKK.

HSK is an acronym for Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (汉语水平考试, Chinese language level exam). The HSK is subdivided into 6 levels. To pass this exam, the Chinese language student must have a strong knowledge of Chinese grammar but above all, Chinese characters. In fact each level requires the knowledge of a certain number of words:

  • HSK 1 – 150 words
  • HSK 2 – 300 words
  • HSK 3 – 600 words
  • HSK 4 – 1200 words
  • HSK 5 – 2500 and more words
  • HSK 6 – more than 5000 words

The HSK exam consists of various tests that require just the spoken and written language.

The HSKK, which stands for Hanyu Shuiping Kouyu Kaoshi (汉语水平口语考试, Spoken Chinese language level exam), is an exam that mostly tests the ability to read out loud and speak the Chinese language.

The HSK and HSKK are the minimum requirements to be able to apply for a scholarship in China. The exams are open to all, just go on the site
www.chinesetest.cn (or directly on the site of the closest Confucius Institute), enrol in the exam with the Confucius Institute you prefer and show up on the day of the test with the document and admission ticket you can print on the www.chinesetest.cn site.

The prices for these exams are:

HSK 1 = 20 USD, HSK 2 = 30 USD, HSK 3 = 40 USD, HSK 4 = 50 USD, HSK 5 = 60 USD, HSK 6 = 70 USD.

HSKK basic = 20 USD; HSKK intermediate = 30 USD; HSKK advanced = 40 USD.