Yuntai Shan International School Review

Check out this latest Kung fu School review posted by Des from the Philippines. She studied at the school for 1 month this summer.

I studied at the Yuntai Shan International School for one month.

Training begins at 5:50 am and there are four to five compulsory meetings everyday. Students can only leave the school on Wednesday mornings and Sundays OR if you have a valid reason to (e.g., visa renewal in the city center). I begin with this information because, for potential students, this might be something worth considering. During my time there, we did have some people come in from Shaolin Temple who thought that Yuntai Shan was maybe a bit too strict. In my opinion, however, it was just right. As someone who considers myself a complete beginner, I thought the training was very good. The shifus and the rest of the staff are very welcoming and helpful, and that goes a long way towards creating what I felt was a very supportive culture within the school.

Food and accommodation weren’t that great, but they were decent. I was there during the summer break, so I’m not sure if there are more food choices at the canteen when the regular school term is underway. In any case, if what’s offered at the canteen isn’t satisfactory, you can always try the restaurant right across. Every room has its own bathroom and for non-Chinese students, if I’m not mistaken, you’ll at most be two people per room. Rooms do have air conditioning, but they can only be turned on at certain times of the day.


For those who want to sneak in some sightseeing, one of the benefits of the school’s location is that it’s located very near the Yuntai Geo Park, which is classified AAAAA by China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism (that’s the highest rating they give). I highly recommend asking for a day or two off training to go see it. You can also ask the Shifus to help organize trips to nearby Shaolin Temple or Luoyang.

All in all, if you’re looking for value for money, you can’t really go wrong with choosing this school. I had a great month there and if I ever go back to China for martial arts training, choosing Yuntai Shan again would be a no-brainer.

Booking with StudyMartialArts.Org – I liked how much information there was and that was instrumental in helping me decide which school to attend.

36th Chamber of Shaolin

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, also known as The Master KillerShaolin Master Killer and Shao Lin San Shi Liu Fang, is a 1978 Hong Kong kung fu film directed by Liu Chia-liang and produced by Shaw Brothers, starring Gordon Liu. The film follows a highly fictionalized version of San Te, a legendary Shaolin martial arts disciple who trained under the general Chi Shan.

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin is widely considered to be one of the greatest kung fu films and a turning point in its director’s and star’s careers. It was followed by Return to the 36th Chamber, which was more comedic in presentation and featured Gordon Liu as the new main character with another actor in the smaller role of San Te, and Disciples of the 36th Chamber.

You can read Dave Roberts review of the movie here.

Lengfan – ‘eating cold rice’

by Phillip Star

sunlutangSun Lutang (1860-1933), renowned founder of the Sun styles of both baguazhang and taijiquan rose early each morning in Beijing to walk to his baguazhang practice with the famous master, Cheng Tinghua. Upon completing his bagua training for the day, he’d immediately set out to walk to the other side of the city where he’d train in xingyiquan under the tutelage of the legendary Guo Yunshen (the “Divine Crushing Fist”). That must have been a really arduous task; even in those days, Beijing was huge. The foot traffic had to be all but impassable, but he walked the route every day, in the blistering heat of summer and the snowy days of winter.

In 1938, Masutatsu Oyama left Korea (being a native Korean named Choi Young Li, and he would later adopt the Japanese name, Masutatsu Oyama) to apply at the Yamanashi Aviation School. He had high hopes of becoming a pilot but was refused because of his nationality, so he managed to find a menial job driving a small truck through Tokyo in the wee hours of the morning. After studying karate under Gigo Funakoshi at Takushoku University, he went into the wilds of Mt. Minobu in Yamanashi Prefecture where he trained outside of the small hut he’d constructed. Eventually, he stopped living in the run-down structure and when he no longer received supplies of food from a friend who had been bringing them to him regularly, he lived outdoors…even in the winter! He noted that he’d sleep on the snow-packed ground and hunt for berries and other foodstuffs to sustain him during the nearly 3-year period he spent on the mountain. He would go on to found the Kyokushin school of karate.

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Morihei Uyeshiba (founder of modern aikido) often allowed his most senior disciples to live in his home and he’d wake up in the middle of the night, having dreamt of a new technique. He’d wake his pupils, who would act as his uke (receiver) although they were still half-asleep and bleary-eyed.

And today…students ignore the aches and pains of daily training, push aside the concerns of a day at work or school, and do their best to resist the urge to settle back onto the couch and watch a movie or settle in with a good book. On certain evenings they venture out to class, where they’ll be thrown about and be attacked with a variety of puches and kicks…for reasons that are a little difficult to verbalize. They’re bright enough to understand that practicing their chosen art will likely never land them a Hollywood contract, turn them into invincible super-heroes, or enable them to enjoy a wealthy lifestyle. But they endure through the humidity of summer and the ice of winter to continue travelling their path where the reward for suffering through the phsical and intellectual maze of technique and form is to have more of the same heaped on. And the further they travel along this path, the more demanding it becomes.

Errors and lapses in attention might be forgiven when they are beginners, but illuminated in a harsh spotlight by their teachers as they progress. And finally, as they approach the level where their teachers have no more to teach or even criticize, they may think their journey is nearing the end. Not so. At this advanced level, the practitioner must turn inward to re-examine his technique and lifestyle to seek out weaknesses, impose upon himself even more hardships, and searching for a level of the Way that is increasingly severe.

This is sometimes referred to as “lengfan” or “eating cold rice.” Unless you eat rice as a part of your regulat diet, you may wonder about this expression. Well, the next time you find some leftover rice in the refrigerator, try a mouthful before you warm it back up. You’ll probably find it a bit less than palatable. Very different from the freshly steamed variety. Soldiers in the field would eat cold rice because they lacked the equipment and time to heat it. Bachelors are known to garf it down in the morning when there’s nothing else available for breakfast. A bowl of cold rice can make us appreciate that even the most blessed and fortunate among us will suffer from time to time. Not every meal will be just as we like it…

Eating cold rice puts eating in a new perspective. If we’re hungry, it sustains us. The austere training of the martial will fill our bellies even though it’s not as tasty as we’d like. The austerity of practce in the martial Ways is a lot like that…they are disciplines that are stripped of self-indulgences and ego decorations. To follow them requires a certain amount of stoicism and an enduring spirit. The true martial artists doesn’t mind cold rice; he sees it as an essential means of improving himself and perfecting his spirit.

He doesn’t prefer cold rice, but he accepts it; he knows that true contentment is not gained through acquiring things. If one cannot be happy or content unless they have hot rice (or that new car, or the latest fashionable shoes…), one is probably going to live a very unsatisfied, unhappy life. But if you can be content with the rice – hot or cold – chances are that you’ll find contentment in everything life offers.

The masters of days past ate cold rice many times in their lives; they endured and moved forward. Their lives weren’t centered pn material goals; they’d accepted a different path – one that requires accepting some hardships. Without such a stoic outlook, they’d have learned much less than they did. One well-known author said that all of the valuable lessons he’d learned in life were learned through suffering. So those who have chosen to follow the martial Ways must determine in what direction they want to go. But they must be prepared to eat a bowl of cold rice from time to time…

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Teach or Train

By Phillip Starr

    Over the years, I’ve heard several martial arts instructors remark that they like to “work out” in the classes that they teach and/or that they use the classes as their own workouts. I think this is a very bad idea for two reasons…

     First, it cheapens the instruction received by the students.  If the teacher is focused on himself and his own workout, he is not able to closely observe what his students are doing.  If he had to stop periodically to make corrections here and give encouragement there, or explain a particular principle or concept, his workout would be constantly interrupted.  If he really intends to work out, he must be wholly attending to what HE is doing rather than on what the students are doing.

    Secondly, if the instructor allows his personal workout to be constantly interrupted, he isn’t able to focus completely on what he’s doing.  It’s really not much of a personal workout at all.

     Using class as his own training time takes away from the quality of instruction received by the students and also ruins the teacher’s workout as well.

     I have told teachers (who informed me proudly that they simultaneously utilize class time as their own workout time) that they really must stop doing so.  I told them that in class, they should devote themselves to TEACHING and pay attention to the students.  Their own workouts must be conducted separately, on their own time.  Class time is intended for the students.  Period.

WU WEI SI – LIVING IN A CHINESE KUNG FU TEMPLE — THE VEGAN VOYAGERS

If you’ve been searching for a peaceful retreat from a busy western lifestyle, want to learn Kung Fu, get to know the ‘real China’ or just looking for tasty vegan food, this is the complete guide to living in a Chinese Kung Fu Temple! Wu Wei Temple, a Buddhist monastery, with a 1000 year history, […]

via WU WEI SI – LIVING IN A CHINESE KUNG FU TEMPLE — THE VEGAN VOYAGERS

The Pros and Cons of BJJ Video Instructionals

Everyone wants to get better at BJJ, right? But how? Enter the BJJ instructional. Whether it’s by DVD or an online course, the thought of getting instruction from a well known instructor is tempting. And while finding the best online jiu jitsu course can sometimes be a challenge in and of itself, what is even more difficult is learning how to best utilize the instruction.

Will a DVD or online course really be the lynchpin that improves your closed guard game? It could be…if done right.

Let’s review the pros and cons of learning BJJ by video and how you can get better at BJJ with instructionals.

Advantages of learning BJJ with video instructional

How many times in class have you said to your instructor: “Can you repeat that technique?” Fortunately, when you are watching a video clip all you need to do is to hit the rewind button to replay the instruction. You no longer have to be that guy (or gal) who always wants to see it just one more time.

Another advantage to online bjj training is that you can really focus on nuance. By this we mean that you can find just about any position or technique and have it explored from many perspectives. You are not just limited to what your instructor says on a particular evening. With the explosion in instructional content, you can find entire encyclopedias of BJJ knowledge, so to speak, that will help you become a better grappler for a particular position.

A third advantage to learning by DVD or online is that you get access to world class instructors for pennies of what a seminar might cost. Seriously, this point cannot be emphasized enough.  How much would it cost to have a private session with Marcelo Garcia? You probably do not want to know…

Last, the production value of instructionals has increased over the years. As Modern BJJ has evolved so has the quality of the BJJ instructional. These courses are not your 1990s martial arts VHS tapes, or heck, even early 2000s DVDs for that matter. These days, you can expect that a course will offer good sound, lighting and editing to enhance the learning experience.

Disadvantages to learning BJJ with video instructionals

There is no substitute for learning in a real life setting. You could watch every BJJ video online and still not improve one iota if you never practice the techniques in real life.

The main disadvantage with learning BJJ by instructional is that you cannot receive live feedback. Yes, a training partner can help, but unless they are a coach or higher level belt, you won’t know if you are doing the techniques properly.

How to best learn with a BJJ instructional

Here are three tips for learning BJJ by DVD or with a subscription online.

First, alway have a training buddy. This will emulate actual training like at your gym.

Learning by yourself is tough. And since BJJ is done against an opponent you are missing half the equation if you are just watching a DVD or course by yourself. Find a training partner and watch the material together. This is the most practical way to get better.

Second, review what you learned on an instructional in your actual class. Find time after a training session to put your new techniques or approach to the test. This should sound simple, but you need to practice these techniques just like everything else you learn from your actual profesor.

Third, take notes! If you take notes during your actual BJJ class this should be a no brainer. Taking notes helps reinforces concepts. Approach the video lessons as you would a normal academic course. Write down what you learn and then try to summarize the principles. Of course, BJJ is not a writing sport, you must eventually practice on the mat!

Conclusion

BJJ is a sport that takes time to learn. Learning online can help speed up this process, but it must be used in conjunction with your real life training, not against it. Stay focused and study with a goal in mind.

 

History of East Asian Martial Arts: Week 7 – Buddhism and Martial Arts — Kung Fu Tea

Introduction I have noticed a persistent tendency by some to strive to maintain an artificial barrier between the physicality of martial arts practice one the one hand, and the myriad ways it is discussed in literature, film and popular culture on the other. Typically this is articulated as a frustration with the inability of the […]

via History of East Asian Martial Arts: Week 7 – Buddhism and Martial Arts — Kung Fu Tea

SHAOLIN MIZONG LUOHAN — Brennan Translation

– 少林迷蹤派羅漢拳 SHAOLIN MIZONG LUOHAN BOXING 潘茂容 葉雨亭 by Pan Maorong & Ye Yuting [published by the 健民國醫學院 Strengthen-the-People National Medical School, April 4, 1955] [translation by Paul Brennan, June, 2019] – 少林迷蹤派羅漢拳 Shaolin Mizong Luohan Boxing 葉雨亭演式 performed by Ye Yuting 潘茂容攝影刷線說明并題 – photos, drawings, explanations, and calligraphy by Pan Maorong – 潘序 PREFACE BY […]

via SHAOLIN MIZONG LUOHAN — Brennan Translation

Rome wasn’t built in a day

TIME AND TIME AGAIN…

by Phillip Starr

The cathedral at Chartres, France took more than a hundred years to build. A whole century! That means that the stonemasons who laid the foundation did so knowing full well that they’d likely never see their work completed. In fact, I’m quite certain that the architects who designed and supervised the work must have realized that they wouldn’t live to see it finished. I like to consider things like this while I’m standing in the checkout line at the supermarket… I understand that the difference between me and these builders from long ago is considerable – not just in terms of the times that’s elapsed between the age in which they lived and the one in which I now live, but also by our vastly disparate concepts of time.

Prior to our modern age, people measured time differently than we do. As little as a hundred years ago, consider the time it’d take you to get a loaf of freshly baked bread (if you’re planning on having it with tonight’s dinner). It’s probably just a matter of minutes to the nearest bakery from which you can buy bread that’s come from mechanically processed grain, machine milling and mixing, kneading, baking, and packaging. As little as a hundred years ago, this all had to be done by hand! So when I say, “I need to get some bread”, I mean something different than what my ancestors meant when they spoke those same words.

We tend to think in terms of hours when we speak of segments of time. For instance, travel is measured in terms of hours. Even our educational system is based on credit hours needed… But the generations before us thought of time in different terms; travel could take weeks or even months! Education back then was generally based on apprenticeships; students of Rembrandt, for example, were required to spend three years just learning how to grind pigments for the paint that was to be used in his studio!

It’s tempting to think that one way of looking at time is better than another; that the “old, slower way” is superior to the “new, instant” way but that’s an oversimplification. Each generation finds what works best for their kinds of lives. Problems occur when we try to impose our concept of time to things of another age. Contractors can now construct a new church in a matter of weeks and that’s fine; what is NOT fine is if they try to convince everyone that it’s as well-built as the Chartres Cathedral. And students of art can graduate after a few hours of instruction but they’re nowhere near being on the artistic level that the old masters were. And martial arts students often feel that after a matter of several hours they can grasp the skills of arts that really require more than a lifetime to fully understand.

Too often, people approach the martial arts with what I call a “modern sense of time.” They feel that after a few months or years of practice, they’re qualified to pass judgement on what works and what doesn’t, and so on. It should be borne in mind that the martial arts that we practice are just that; arts. To “absorb what is useful” requires at least a decade of practice before you can make that determination. At least a decade. If that amount of time seems excessive, it’s likely because you’re applying modern time frames to things that are not modern. Would you expect to be able to paint like a fifteenth-century Flemish master after attending a couple of semesters in his class? Could you even hope to tap into the most basic of his techniques such as mixing paints, preparing a canvas, or applying finishes? And these are just minor aspects…

We’re not even considering the acquisition of his genius for composition, lighting, and so on. Only the most boorish would suppose that they could even come close to the master’s level without decades of training. And martial arts are just like that. Their basics and secrets and subtleties are no less complex than those of fine arts. Yet, many people approach them as if they could be completely understood and appreciated in a few hours.

Ours is the age of high-speed, instant, and “I want it now.” Often, the beginner’s first step in starting training is directed towards restructuring his sense of time. He must work to adapt himself to the constructs of the martial arts and meet them on THEIR unique terms, rather than trying to force them into his own. He may well discover what those that have gone before him discovered – if something worth doing is worth doing well, time is not important.

Learn Kung fu in China Resources

I’ve been working hard to continue to provide the best resources for martial artists and adventure travellers who want to travel to China for intensive all-inclusive training packages. Here I have managed to update our Guide to learning kung fu in China. Its completely free and easily downloaded.

This guide walks you through, the dreaded Chinese visa, what to pack, health and safety, money and banking, domestic travel, living in China, communications and much more.

You’ll learn:

  • How to prepare in advance of your trip
  • How to keep you and your belongs safe
  • What you’ll need to become an expert traveler
  • How to earn extra travel & training cash
  • Ways to save money

This can all be found on the StudyMartialArts.Org travel resources page. Newly redesigned its packed with links to the most relevant, and up to date articles to help become an expert in no time at all.

Let me know what you think about the design and the content. You can do this by commenting below or by emailing my direct at david@studymartialarts.org – Alternatively maybe you have some requests for particular information?