Shengjing Shan Kung Fu Academy – Review


Learning kung fu in China with Master Qu

by Tim Miller – from the USA
My experience at Shengjing Shan kung fu academy has been one of the best experiences in my life.  I have been here for 8 months and I am in the best physical and mental condition I’ve ever been in.  I have lost the most weight I’ve ever lost in my life (30 pounds).  It is deep in the mountains and has very little to no distractions which makes it a great location if you’re looking to focus on learning kung fu.  The student environment is also very friendly.  Everyone is very nice to each other and is there to help you when you need it.  I’ve met some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met before at this academy. Master Qu is one of the best masters you could hope for.  He teaches each student at their own pace based on their ability and condition, yet at the same time he pushes you to become stronger and better than you were yesterday.  It is clear he cares about his students, not only on a physical and mental level, but also as a person in general.  He has made this place feel like a second home.

Learning kung fu in China

Sheng Jing Shan Kung Fu Academy specializes in the teaching of traditional Chinese Kung Fu and culture to students coming from all around the world. The main subjects taught include Shaolin kungfu, Bagua Palm, Mantis Fist, Tai Chi, Qigong and Sanda. In addition to martial arts the school also offers Chinese culture lessons, including Daoism, massage, and acupuncture. Here you can learn kung fu in China and experience Chinese martial arts and TCM culture.

Facilities: Indoor and outdoor training areas.

To learn more about the school and see a full independent review visit StudyMartialArts.Org


Through a Lens Darkly (55): Taijiquan and the Soft Power Paradox

Kung Fu Tea

As previously noted, I have been taking a couple weeks off from the blog to focus on another writing project that needs my attention. Nevertheless, I ran across an image that I wanted to share. As I did a bit of research it occurred to me that this photo suggests a theoretical dilemma that may be relevant to that project as well. It seems that I just cannot stay away from Kung Fu Tea. But in this case that might actually be for the best.

Let us begin with the photograph that tempted me out of my blogging vacation.  It is an eight by eleven-inch glossy print showing three Chinese martial artists with swords (jian) in a Beijing park.  This particular photo was previously part of the Houston Chronicle’s photo archive before I purchased it at auction.  The stamps on the back indicate that it was published on December 26

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An Wushu – School Review

From soft-arts beginner

I previously trained for 1 year full-time with Shifu An Jian Qiu, where I learned the family basic sets (stances, stretching, bone hardening etc.) and then progressed on to Bajji Quan and San Da. After returning to live in Dezhou for 2 years and unable to train full-time, I’m very grateful that An Shifu allowed me to continue my studies with part-time training. It was great being able to join in training sessions with other full-time students and see how quickly they improved, and An Shifu truly made me feel part of the family despite my limited time, even inviting me along to the incredible International Baji Quan demonstration hosted in Dezhou and QingYun this summer (2018). He allowed my training to fit seamlessly into my busy schedule, and it remained the highlight of my week throughout my time back in Dezhou. As I’m still dealing with a neck injury sustained while practicing wrestling back in Europe, I asked Shifu if he could start to teach me the internal arts to compliment and aid in my recovery.

To my first complete Bagua form

As a total beginner to internal arts, I’m very grateful for the many long conversations we had about internal training methods and goals, as well as the details and differences of the 3 styles Xing Yi, Bagua, and Tai Chi. I feel that under his instruction I have gained a useful understanding of what I am actually aiming to achieve when practicing internal kung fu, and the images he uses to describe his internal sensations help me to imagine the feeling I will one day achieve. Stood in San Ti Shi posture for 20 minutes, I imagine my arms as leaves gently floating along a stream.

In total, I learned the basic stances and fists of Xing Yi, then a first basic Bagua series before learning Bao Zhen Bagua Zhang. I wouldn’t have imagined I would be able to learn so many complex movements in this time, but my year of full-time training in the past provided me with good enough basics to learn quickly. It was very hard work, following the detailed corrections of An Shifu week after week, and I feel it will still be years before I can be truly soft in all these movements. However, I am very confident now to take what I have been taught and gradually develop my internal kung fu through daily practice. Sadly leaving Dezhou once again, I am already looking forward to coming back to deepen my knowledge of the An family system further, and hopefully next time I will arrive injury free!

Spreading the Gospel of Kung Fu: Print Media and the Popularization of Wing Chun (Part II) — Kung Fu Tea

Introduction In the first part of this series (which you can read here) we discussed the earliest works on the Chinese martial arts to appear in English, and looked at two sources on Wing Chun. The first was an article in a 1968 edition of Black Belt Magazine (the publication of record for the […]

via Spreading the Gospel of Kung Fu: Print Media and the Popularization of Wing Chun (Part II) — Kung Fu Tea

Great Myths about “Self Defense” — Sifu David Ross

This Sunday, September 9th, I am holding another self defense seminar. If you are interested you can learn more and register at I guess that is why these “great myths” about “self defense” come to mind. #1: People will tell you that in “self defense” you want to use your open hand, i.e. your […]

via Great Myths about “Self Defense” — Sifu David Ross

Training that could make you a Master in Yang Style Taichi Chuan

We have all read and heard stories about the near magical skills achieved by some Taijiquan masters of the past. Many people find the skills for which the art became famous illusive. Nonetheless we strive to achieve the best we can and keep the art alive.

It is safe to say that there are many causes for such a lack of true skill development in Taijiquan, from poor teachers to lazy students and so on.

One of the primary causes is simple misunderstanding; people misunderstand both what to train and how to train. Thus the causes being incorrect the effects can only follow to be incorrect as well.

The Yang family divided the training into three aspects. Each one has its purpose and time, each one has an effect on the other and must be trained in the right proportion and be trained correctly to achieve success.

The three components of training are :

  • Lian (练) or practice
  • Yong (用) or usage and
  • Biaoyan (表演) or show.

Practice is the solo training, the body of the work. This includes jibengong or basic body methods, zhan zhuang or standing post, song gong, nei gong, gong li or power exercises and deep work on different postures and internal methods and much more.

Usage is the partner work, the pushing hands training, application and sparring. Working on stick, adhere, join and follow and applying the different jins and skills developed in the practice component of the training.

Show is what we see as Taijiquan these days, it is going through the entire Dalu set, focusing on things like even tempo, smooth movement and looking graceful, traditionally it was used to show the art to outsiders without divulging the practice or the usage of the style.

These days most practitioners of the art only work on the ‘show’ aspect of training, neglecting the essence in the ‘practice’ and the application in the ‘usage’. This leads to an attempt to reverse engineer the practice and the usage from the show. It is easy to see how things go wrong from here.

All of the Practice and Usage aspects of Yang style Taijiquan are covered in the Discover Taiji online training course  and trained in all of my live seminars.

This post was authored by Adam Mizner

Labor Unions, the Growth of Kung Fu and the Survival of Wing Chun — Kung Fu Tea

***Its Labor Day in the United States and I am currently off on a fieldwork trip. As such this seems like a great time to revisit a post from earlier this year on the importance of guilds and labor unions in the Chinese martial arts, a critical and too often overlooked subject. Enjoy!*** National […]

via Labor Unions, the Growth of Kung Fu and the Survival of Wing Chun — Kung Fu Tea

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


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: (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

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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.


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


by Phillip Starr

In the classic martial arts movie, “Enter the Dragon”, the famous martial arts actor of the day, Bruce Lee, faced off against the opposition’s main axe-man who began the match by tossing a board into the air and breaking it with a quick thrust. “Boards don’t hit back”, Lee sneered…and then went on to pummel his foe into the ground. Another well-known martial arts figure once stated that, “Bricks and boards give a resounding thwack, but bricks and boards don’t hit back.”

True enough. I’ve heard the same thing from numerous martial arts teachers over the years but I always wondered if they’d ever considered that heavy bags and striking posts don’t back, either. I realize that they were saying simply that the ability to break various objects with the bare hands and feet are not necessarily indicative of one’s martial skill in so far as fighting is concerned, but then…neither is striking the heavy bag. I think that people who makes such statements are missing the point. After all, silhouette targets that are used by firearms enthusiasts don’t shoot back, either…

They would likely argue that hitting the heavy bag fosters the development of strong technique (if it’s done correctly… and a great many people use it incorrectly). I think I would counter with the same argument regarding board and brick breaking. More importantly, the breaking techniques promote the development of a strong spirit and teach practitioners how to extend their yi (mind, intention, will…), which isn’t always the case with using pieces of equipment like the heavy bag. Different training devices assist in the development of different aspects of a chosen martial discipline; there is no single piece of equipment that helps to develop all of them.

The legendary Masutatsu (“Mas”) Oyama, founder of the Kyokushin style of Japanese karate, emphasized the importance of the breaking techniques because he regarded them as invaluable aids in the promotion of a strong spirit. Although he said that they can be used as a sort of barometer by which we can measure the power of a given technique, the main idea was the development of an indomitable spirit and it is this point that so many contemporary practitioners miss.

If you fail to make a particular break, it’s because:
Your technique is flawed one way or another
You failed to extend your yi properly, or
Your spirit is weak

Or any combination thereof. All of these things are necessary for the development of real fighting skill. At the same time, you can hit the heavy bag incorrectly (which is something that many people do everyday without knowing it), you can strike it without extending your yi (ditto), and it does not necessarily reflect a lack of spirit. So there.

The breaking techniques were not intended to be used as a form of showmanship. Back in the old days it was practiced primarily in the training hall, out of sight of the public at large. It was when the martial arts were brought to the West that these practice routines were used to enthrall audiences. The idea snowballed and before long, we had people performing all kinds of breaking techniques that had little to no value as far as training goes, but the public loved them! Of course, the same happened with freestyle sparring and the demonstrations of forms.

So, to those who say that breaking techniques are without value, I say, “take a closer look.” You’ll be surprised at what you find…

The ultimate guide to the guillotine choke — The Tai Chi Notebook

Just look at those two guys and tell me they aren’t having fun! Nothing says “macho martial artist” quite like standing on one leg and having a guys head wrapped under your armpit in a guillotine choke while he’s pulling your leg into his groin. But seriously, I think every martial artist should know how […]

via The ultimate guide to the guillotine choke — The Tai Chi Notebook