Category Archives: kung fu

The Martial and Mandarin: Are you a type A student or a type B student?

In China dedicated martial arts students who plan to make the most of their time generally fall into two categories.

Type A – You’re a martial arts student in China and you’ve reached a level where in order to further develop your understanding and skill as well as make your life easier you’ve got no choice but learn the language.

Type B – You’re a Chinese language student who’s always been interested in martial arts but has yet to take the step into training. But things have finally come to a head and you’ve had enough of conversations about where you’re from, how much you earn and whether you like Chinese food, girls or football.

Chances are a few of you reading this post have had at least contemplated at least for a second combining martial arts with language learning.

You might have considered the following options. A university course with a certain amount of martial arts training, finding an elusive badass master and informally studying the language or by joining one of the many international kung fu schools and taking their free classes.

The benefit of combining martial arts and language learning can be found in the practical skills you learn that not only add to the experience but also your CV. Indeed such a step can take many in completely new directions abound with opportunities for the wily foreigner. Overall these programmes allow participants the opportunity to develop their martial arts and deepen their own understanding of Chinese culture and language.

“It’s a unique way to study with a high level master outside the normal international kung fu school route as that all important Chinese visa can be provided relatively cheaply through a University.”

Find a badass kung fu master  

This video clip above was taken in Yantai, Shandong province.

Yantai is a small second tier Chinese City on the northeast coast of China. It has cheap housing and has a good environment. Yantai is famous for a number of kung fu styles including Taichi Mantis, Tongbei quan, and Baguazhang. Locally with a little care you can find good masters. The city itself is a hot bed of kung fu schools and is well worth a look.

“Yantai is a hot bed of kung fu schools and masters on the east coast of China”

For details of our Traditional Martial Arts and Language Learning programmes in Yantai email info@studymartialarts.org. You can also check out Master Sui’s full biography and training schedule here. Or you can have a look at this school Kunlun International Kung Fu School which has links to Ludong University in Yantai for long term visas and currently has a very good Shaolin Kung Fu and Mantis Kung Fu master that you can study martial arts with.

Two alternatives that may be more suitable for those who are less independent or would prefer an all-inclusive experience are  The Yuntai Mountain International Culture and Martial Arts School founded by Shi Yan Lin, also known as Xie Xu Yong. This school is the only martial arts school currently offering a quality half day martial arts and half day language learning programme. The other option I would recommend is Capital Sport University of Physical Education in Beijing.

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Yuntai half and half programme

Master Shi Yan Lin is a master with over 10 year experience in teaching to both Chinese and International students Shaolin Martial Arts. The school is located in the famous Yuntai geological park, which attracts thousands of tourists every year and is fairly close to the fabled Northern Shaolin Temple. The Martial Arts training at the school will primarily focus on the various Shaolin fists and weapons as well as Sanda and Taichi. The school building formally a hotel has been converted into student accommodation, as a result the rooms are comfortable and comparatively of a high standard. The newly built training area and performance hall is five minute walk from the main accommodation area, so everything you need is close at hand.

The Chinese language course organised as part of the half martial arts, half language learning programme is available in partnership with Jiaozuo University. These courses can be specially tailored and intensive. This, makes the school a very real prospect for serious Chinese language learners. This close relationship between the martial arts school and the university means that long term student visas can be obtained for long term International students of the school.

The down side to the programme primarily relates to the schools relative isolation and the management insistence for compulsory school line ups throughout the day. Sometimes this can make students feel like they’re prisoners rather than students.

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University Programme

Captial University of Physical Education & Sports is one of Beijing’s premier Martial Arts Training Universities providing top-ranking conditions for international and domestic students. The university is supported by Hanban and Confucius Institute offering Chinese Language Learning Programs, Martial Arts University Programs, TCM, Sports & Health Care Programs.

The University offers the following programs; 4 Year Undergraduate Programs, 3 Year Master Programs, 3 Year Ph.D Programs, 1-2 Year Non-degree Programs and Short-term Programs.

The Universities Featured Programs are:

1. Chinese Language Programs
The University employs a special team for teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language. This team is specializes in training international students who want to learn Chinese Culture and speak the Chinese Language. Class sizes are smaller than other universities and attention and help given to students is higher than at other Universities.  Thjs helps to ensure that students acquaire the language competences sufficent for their speciality studies in China. Small classes of differnt levels are provided as well as one-to-one teaching to meet students needs.

2. Martial Arts Programs
According to the period of study students can expect to study martial arts from martial arts champions who are experienced in both teaching and competitions for performance and also sport.

3. TCM Sports Health Care Programs
The instructor for this program is Ru Kai an assistant professor of Sports Rehabilitiation Department of Schools of Sports Science and Health. He is also the successor and master of Xisui Neigong, Baduanjin and Yijinjing.

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One of the main benefits from studying Mandarin at Capital Sports University is obviously the facilities, access to top coaches plus relatively small class size for language learning.

If you would like to learn more about studying martial arts and learning Chinese check out these great articles.

9 Mistakes to avoid when learning Chinese at a Kung Fu School in China

The things Chinese People Say

 

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Demystifying Power Generation: Fali? Fajin? Fa-who-what-where-why?

by Master An Jian Qiu

What is Fali? What is Fajin? Are they the same? Are they different?

A lot of time is spent on power generation at An Wushu. There is, of course, a huge amount of depth to this topic not covered in this article.  This is just a short article as we often receive this question.

(Don’t worry if it doesn’t clear everything up! It’s not supposed to: In the West, we usually Learn then Do. At An Wushu, you Do then Learn: An Shifu will explain a small amount about a concept before showing you how to develop it. You’ll go away and practice it for many repetitions, and then when you have the feeling/experience of it, An Shifu will explain much more and it’ll truly make sense. For kung fu, this is almost always the best way to learn.)

Fali

Fali means to ‘release explosive power’ and is something anyone can do to a certain degree. If you go to the gym and lift a heavy weight off the floor, you are using (a low level of) fali.

Fali is performed by compacting the chi inside the body, and the body itself, then reversing this process to strike the opponent. In this way, fali requires a ‘wind-up’, like stretching your arms back before throwing a ball.

A strike performed with fali is a fairly ‘committed’ strike, meaning that even if your opponent moves during your strike, you are still committed to your path. (Do not think fali is not useful for this reason… a fali strike can still be incredibly fast!)

At An Wushu, we believe fali is best exemplified by Bajiquan. The video below shows some Bajiquan to see fali in action.

Fajin

Fajin is the joining of the whole body together (muscle, bone, tendon, ligament, and Yi [intent]) to send out a huge amount of power over a very short distance. Bruce Lee’s famous 1-Inch Punch is what a high level of fajin looks like.

Fajin can be considered ‘super fali’ as it requires no ‘wind-up’. It will naturally be developed as a practitioner’s body control increases from many hours of fali training, however certain styles train specifically for it.

While a strike performed with fajin does of course have momentum and therefore is ‘committed’ in a sense, a practitioner will be able to change directions very quickly compared to a strike powered by fali.

View the video below to watch some Xingyiquan to see fajin in action. Being a shorter body movement than fali, fajin is easier to feel than see; however, if you watch Xingyiquan after watching Bajiquan, you’ll see the explosive movements in each style have a different quality.

To learn more about An Wushu or how to study with Master An full-time in China visit www.StudyMartialArts.Org we work exclusively to help dedicated students connect to quality martial arts schools. This includes visa assistance and independent information all at no additional cost to you. Check us out with no obligation.

“Internal” martial arts – cultivating “CHI”

Tianmeng Shaolin Kung Fu Academy
Tianmeng Shaolin Kung Fu Academy

by Duka Nadja current student of Tianmeng Shaolin Kung fu Academy

The term “internal,” is referring to a type of training that focuses on developing of the life energy called “Qi”. We come across the term life energy in every great and antient culture of the world: “Chi” (Chinese), “Prana” (Hindu). Nowadays researchers and scientist are able to prove the reality of the “Chi” existence, using special technical innovations. The real problem is a subtle nature of “Qi”, so that most people find it really difficult to feel how “Qi” flows inside their bodies and meridians. Our modern lifestyle, which puts an enormous pressure on the nervous system, causes “stiffens” of our feelings. So we can not feel higher vibrations of “Chi”. We miss the “unit with the nature” and natural flow of movements. So the “Tai Chi or Kung Fu retreat” in the natural environment of Tianmeng Shaolin Kung Fu Academy could be a great possibility to “come back to roots”. If the mind becomes less distracted and less stressed, it would allow the body to relax, giving you a possibility to feel deeply and completely. That’s why Tianmeng Shaolin Kung Fu Academy pays so much attention to internal martial arts practicing Qigong (life-energy cultivation practices). Qigong and Tai Chi are best ways of practicing for beginners and older people. It is important to develop the internal power before learning any fighting applications or Kung Fu forms. Additionally we offer Meditation to balance your emotions. A relaxed body works better and is less prone to injuries. So, integrating “internal” rounder and softer movements in the daily practicing routine of every “external” martial artists and athlete is a smart idea to achieve best results.  Bruce Lee describes “internal” martial arts as following.

“Moving, be like water. Still, be like a mirror. Respond like an echo.”

Manjianghong Fist

This modern wushu form in the video below was created by Jet Li in 1989 and is based on one of his favourite poems Man Jiang Hong.

Mǎn Jīang Hóng (满江红; literally means All are red in the River) and it is the title of a set of lyrical poems sharing the same pattern. If unspecified, it most often refers to the one normally attributed to legendary Song Dynasty general and Chinese national hero Yue Fei.

Man Jiang Hong

My wrath bristles through my helmet, the rain stops as I stand by the rail;

I look up towards the sky and let loose a passionate roar.

At age thirty my deeds are nothing but dust, my journey has taken me over eight thousand li

So do not sit by idly, for young men will grow old in regret.

The Humiliation of Jing Kang still lingers,

When will the pain of his subjects ever end?

Let us ride our chariots through the Helan Pass,

There we shall feast and drink barbarian flesh and blood.

Let us begin anew to recover our old empire, before paying tribute to the Emperor.

(Traditional Chinese Original)

满江红

怒发冲冠,凭栏处、潇潇雨歇。

抬望眼,仰天长啸,壮怀激烈。

三十功名尘与土,八千里路云和月。

莫等闲,白了少年头,空悲切!

靖康耻,犹未雪;

臣子恨,何时灭?

驾长车,踏破贺兰山缺!

壮志饥餐胡虏肉,笑谈渴饮匈奴血。

待从头,收拾旧山河,朝天阙!

Wudang Gong Fu & Health Academy

For sometime I’ve been looking to connect to the best Wudang Kung Fu schools located on Wudang Shan. Using the StudyMartialArts.Org network of respected fellow martial artists, friends and kung fu brothers I’ve researched visited and connected to a number of schools over the years.

One of the best on Wudang Shan that we have recently connected to is Master Tang’s academy close to Taichi Lake.

The Wudang Gong Fu & Health Academy is a small school with a detailed and structured education program.

Students who wish to enter and be accepted onto one of their special education programs covering the essential training of Wudang Xuan Wu Pai have the chance of becoming a Wudang Disciple and genuine linage holder of Wudang Internal Martial arts. Pending suitable performance and dedication of course.

The headmaster Tang Li Long is one of the main disciples of Grand Master You Xuan De. Master Tang has years of experience teaching Internal Wudang Martial Arts. He has created a system that teaches the essence effectively and under his guidance students will learn the tradition preserved on the mountain.

Tang Li Long’s vision is to spread the Wudang Daoist knowledge around the world in order to preserve the traditional teachings of dào fǎ zìrán ”the natural way” (道法自然) and the 10 Taoist principles of Wudang Pai. His school has a family feel to it where kung fu brothers and sisters from different countries, backgrounds and experiences can all share their knowledge in order to better understand the way of the Dao.

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ABOUT MASTER TANG LI LONG

Master Tang Li Long is a 15th generation Wudang Daoist Martial Arts Master of the Xuan Wu Pai. Encouraged by his father he started training Martial Arts in his home town at a young age. Later, after studying Wudang Taiji Quan in Wuhan for a well known master he was told to go to Wudang Mountain to become a Wudang Disciple. He’s master sent a mail to the Wudang Shool of Martial Arts and some time later he was invited to come and study for 14th generation Wudang Master You Xuande, who was the Abbot of the Wudang Temples and the keeper of the Wudang Martial Arts.

Wudang Disciple 1994 he arrived at Wudang Mountain and started to learn from Grand Master You. After a long time of hard training Master Tang became one of the main diciples of You Xuande. With a genuine background with in Taiji Quan his skills and understanding where different from other students. He worked close to Master You and helped him write down ideas about Martial Arts and Daoism. Tang Li Long is now one of the “5 Dragons of Wudang” and a linage holder of the Wudang Xuan Wu Pai. 1998 he won a Medal in the 1st World Traditional Wushu Championships and 1999 he was awarded as a outstanding Master in a big Wudang Taiji Quan gathering.
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Tang Laoshi, Master Tang Li Long, or “Tang Laoshi” as most people call him, has almost 20 years of experience of Wudang Martial Arts and have a system of teaching that is different from other schools on the mountain. He teaches the foundations of the style and focus on Basics, Qi Gong and Applications. His long time students has won many competitions and gained high skills in Wudang Wushu. His main skill is his ability to bring out good quality of the training and the students and teach the essence of Wudang Internal Martial Arts. He holds a position as secretery of the International Wudang Mountain Taiji Gongfu Association and have done performances in China, Korea and Germany. He has publiced articles in the Chinese Martial Arts Wudang Wind Magazine and Hubei Daily Newspaper. He was mentioned in a book about famous Gongfu Masters in 2010 (“Chinese Folk/Unofficial Gongfu Masters” – “Zhongguo Mingjian Wushu Mingjia”). In 2010 set up the school and the present location in Wudangshan, same year his student Jakob Isaksson, Sweden, won a Silver and Brons Medal in the 4th World Traditional Wushu Championships.

Tang Li Longs philosophy is to wholeheartedly train the disciples and carry on the tradition.

Learn more about Master Tang’s Academy including full training curriculum and prices. 

5 Top Tips for Studying Kung Fu in China

Shaolin Students

The begining…

“The interesting parts are between the facts… “

In the summer of 2007 while on a break from my urban planning job back in Belfast I made the decision to travel to China and study traditional kung fu. I craved adventure and a change from the daily grind. Most of my friends had gone travelling between school and university or between university and work. I’d created a window of opportunity and felt this was the right time to use the money I’d saved. My martial arts experience at that time was limited to my regularly Jeet Kune Do classes. Despite my lack of sashes or belts I wasn’t worried. What I lacked in experience I knew I had in determination to work hard and learn as much as I could. Like most of you reading this article I’ve an interest and passion for martial arts as well as a growing interest in learning more about the spiritual and healing arts of China. As a teen I used to day dream about what it would be like to visit a land where a monkey could become a king.

China here I come…

Immediately I set to the task of researching kung fu schools in China. I craved being taught in a traditional way without distractions. I wanted to learn how to deal with confrontation effortlessly and improve every aspect of my life.

So I took action and found a school, got my visa and boarded a plane. 13 hours later I arrived in Beijing totally unprepared. I stayed the night in a hotel near the airport and the next day I boarded my internal flight to my end destination with high hopes. I was as green as the grass I’d left back in Ireland. From that moment until now it’s been one hell of an adventure.

Over the last few years I’ve visited a lot of kung fu schools and met a number of students studying at these schools. Some have come for martial arts, some adventure, some for health and fitness and some simply to create space for changing past bad habits. Your reasons for seeking this experience are your own. But what they should have in common is a desire to improve. Focus on your training and the experiences and other benefits will follow. So here are my 5 top tips for getting the most out of your training at a kung fu school.

Shaolin martial arts students
Shaolin martial arts students

My top 5 tips

  1. There are more schools than ever popping up all over China specifically to cater for the growing demand from westerners who want to study traditional kung fu. Make your decision carefully, not just in terms of your school choice and style but also in terms of what you want to achieve and get out of the experience. Schools now offer students more than just martial arts. They offer often offer additional classes in Chinese language, Buddhism and TCM for example. These are good and offer you the chance of dipping your toes in the water from which further learning can be sought.
  2. The importance of your fellow students at a kung fu school should not be under estimated. These students will be people you will learn from and have to live with.
  3. Be realistic. There have been occasions when I’ve received enquiries from students that are just damn right ridiculous or expect to be able to open their own schools after as little as 6 months to a year of studying.
  4. Be prepared for a culture shock and a different way of thinking or in some cases a total lack of thought. Remember that can also be part of the enjoyment too. You’re not in Kansas anymore so don’t expect it to be the same or constantly winge about it. We all go through this and at times have a love hate relationship with the place(s) we visit. When you catch yourself doing this stop! If it continues just go home. Don’t bring those around you down with a bad attitude or negitivity or disturb your fellow students training or enjoyment. Be patient, present and self aware.
  5. And remember just because someone is wearing kung fu shoes, a kung fu suit, or has some prayer beads it doesn’t mean that they are a good master or martial artist.

If you’d like to find out more or have any questions about studying martial arts in China this site is the pick of the bunch. www.StudyMartialArts.Org