Huang Shan – China’s famous Yellow Mountain

The Yellow Mountain (Huang Shan, 黄山) is among the most visited and notable mountains in China. For those looking for a unique natural landscape and don’t mind having to compete for it with swarms of other tourists, this is the place for you.

You might have to use the new martial arts skills you’ve been learning at your Kung Fu School in order to fend off the other tourist that will be fighting for rooms and places to stay on this mountain. This is not a joke nor an exaggeration. Tensions can get pretty high over the last rooms when the alternative could be a cold sleepless night on this huge rock.

Once your rooms are secured you have two options to get to the top of the mountain. The first is to hike up the mountain stairs. This is the best way to get a good view of the landscape. The other is by Cable Car. The earlier you get the cable car the better. It’s not unknown for their to be kilometre long lines of people even at the break of dawn. If you successfully get on the cable car, expect more hiking.

Once at the top book into another hotel (this should be done in advance). That way you can relax and enjoy both sunset and sunrise the next day. In terms of the hotel quality, expect them to be overpriced, and rough. Prices range from 200 rmb to 1,000 rmb. For the 200 rmb range think refugee camp conditions.

Here is a link to some of the best accommodation options for Huang Shan.

To avoid disappointment I’d recommend you plan to visit off season, defiantly not on a Chinese holiday. Pre-buy and take with you any expensive food items. Whether expensive snacks or a cheeky bottle of rice liquor everything will be way more expensive at the top.

Huangshan, is a mountain range in southern Anhui province in eastern China. Vegetation on the range is thickest below 1,100 meters, with trees growing up to the treeline at 1,800 meters. Wikipedia
Address: Huangshan, Anhui, China
Elevation: 6,115′
Highest point: Xuelian Feng
Province: Anhui
Country: China
Phone: +86 559 558 0033
Listing: Ultra-prominent peak
Mountains: Tian Du Feng, Xuelian Feng, Guang Ming Ding

Top tips for visiting Huang Shan & Detailed Guide

  1. Plan ahead, check the weather and make sure its off season.
  2. Book your accommodation in advance
  3. Expect lots of people and cues
  4. Bring your survival and luxury rations
  5. Expect things to be more expensive

How to get to Huang Shan

Huang Shan is located in the western part of Anhui province. Below are a couple of options by train from either Shanghai or Beijing.

  • Shanghai (5 hours on the G1509, leaving in the morning at 8.27);
  • Beijing (there are fast trains from 8 in the morning to 15.30, and the trip lasts a little under 7 hours) and on the same line, Tianjin;

From the city of Huang Shan, where long distance options arrive, shuttles depart for Tangkou (汤口), adjacent to the entrance to the Park, at the foot of the mountain. If you choose to climb on foot, the climb starts at Tangkou. If instead you’re going for the cable cars, there are shuttles that connect directly to the station, airport and the city of Tangkou obviously. These city buses don’t cost more than 20 Yuan for the longest trip. Even taxis and tuk tuks are available if you arrive from the airport or station, but to get to the cable cars you can only use designated buses.

Pictures of Yellow Mountain (Huang Shan, 黄山)

Yellow Mountain

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Locks on Huang Shan

Campsite

Porters

Crowd at sunrise

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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.

Martial Arts Travel Guide for China

People who travel to China without downloading this travel guide are 138% more likely to be unprepared for the journey ahead. All right, so maybe we’re exaggerating this point to grab your attention. However, the fact is that after you’ve read this guide you will know exactly what preparations are required before you begin your journey and also how you can deal with all that China has to offer.

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

Download the guide here

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“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.”

Hua Shan – the worlds most deadly hike

Hua Shan has 5 peaks, the deadliest of these is the infamous Plankwalk.  For those looking for a unique and frightening challenge while taking some deserved R&R from kung fu training this is for you.

Arriving in Huayin (the town at the foot of the mountain) the day before is advisable. That way you can get a rest the night before. Do make sure you book because this place gets busy.

Once your room is secured you have two options to get to the top of the mountain. The first is to take a 6 hour hike up the mountain stairs. This is the best way to get a good view of the landscape. The other is the new West Cable Car (140 RMB/pp each way, $22 or 100 RMB/pp with student car, $16) the earlier in the morning the better. If you successfully get on the cable car, expect a further 4-6 hours of hiking.

To avoid disappointment I’d recommend you plan to visit off season, defiantly not on a Chinese holiday.

Top tips for visiting Hua Shan & Detailed GuideScreen Shot 2016-04-12 at 23.07.35

  1. Plan ahead, check the weather and make sure its off season.
  2. Book your accommodation in advance
  3. Expect lots of people and cues
  4. Bring a change of underpants

What to expect from the Plankwalk

‘During the actual walk you are walking across a narrow plank walkway nearly 5,000 ft in the air after all during the least intense part of the hike.  The remainder of the trail is composed of iron rods protruding from the mountain, small cut outs in the actual rock for your feet and/or chains for gripping yourself close to the mountainside.

The path itself is TWO-WAY traffic for the entire day, which means you are sharing an already extremely treacherous path with limited space often.  You will be required to move your harness over other hikers heads and step on the outside of them, sometimes only having room for one foot to stabilize.  It gets especially tricky when sharing either of the ladder areas and/or cliff cut outs, as they have even less real estate to offer. (http://blog.unboundly.com)’

 

 

 

 

Why people choose us

At StudyMartialArts.Org we are passionate about Martial Arts and Travel. We believe that the combination of both provide a powerful catalyst for greater awareness. Our mission is based on connecting you to the right schools, masters or instructors.

Below you will find a testimonial from one of our past students Arvid Velt. Arvid first joined the SMA 1 month intensive martial arts travel and training tour. On this tour we combine historic sites fun and travel with training with a variety of high level masters throughout China. During that time we assisted him and advised him on the next move to bring his training to the next level.

Arvid at the time of the filming through our support and that of his Master studied in China for two years.

For further information contact us at info@StudyMartialArts.Org or visit our website. www.StudyMartialArt.Org Or why not view our other testimonials here.

From Dali to Shangri-la | Off-the-beaten tracks itinerary in Yunnan

The road that links Yunnan’s three main backpackers haven from Dali old town (大理古城) to Lijang (丽江), the former capital of the Naxi Kingdom, and the ancient Tibetan town of Shangri-la (香格里拉) a…

Source: From Dali to Shangri-la | Off-the-beaten tracks itinerary in Yunnan

Top 5 tips for surviving drinking in China

You owe it to yourself not to be the drunken foreigner and more importantly the wrong type of drunken foreigner and let yourself down. Remember the purpose of your journey is to Study Martial Arts. Heavy drinking won’t help you reach your aims and objectives and may cause you, your hosts or school and Shifu to loose face (embarrassment).

Drinking in China and smoking is common place. With cheap alcohol and cigarettes everywhere, this is not the best place to run away to if you want to change these bad habits. This must start at home.

Most social drinking in China is primarily associated with eating. Most drinking takes place around the dinner table and meals as a way to cement relationships and do business. As a topic this subject could easily have a series of blog entries but that will be a story for another day.

Here are my top 5 tips for surviving drinking in China in brief.

1. Showing respect when drinking is probably one of the first things someone will explain to you. When drinking tea or when drinking alcohol with a superior clink your cup/glass lower. Its super simple and easy to remember. But its much appreciated by your elders, fellow guests, shifu’s. The rest of the customs and rules need not be learnt straight away and are things you’ll pick up on or learn as you go. As a foreigner you’ll not be expected to know them or everything.

2. When inviting or being invited out for dinner or meals in China. The standard rule of thumb is usually the inviter pays unless stated otherwise.

3. When drinking follow the lead of others at the table in terms of speed quantity and times. Whatever you do avoid mixing baijiu and beer. You should remember drinking in China can start very slowly but once the individual toasting starts it can be rapid and all those small cups will start catching up on you especially if you’ve insisted on drinking out of turn.

4. If you don’t want to drink have an excuse prepared in advance or warn your host of this. Excuses related to health tend to be the best. Having tried many over the years these where best received by hosts and guests. If you’re not going to be drinking much but still want to show respect have tea ready in your cup and don’t empty the cup (ganbie) just drink as you wish (suiyi).

5. Eat, eat and eat. Show appreciation and be a good guest.

If you would like to learn more about how to survive in China why not check out my post on 10 Mistakes Foreign Martial Arts Students Make in China.

Fascia. What is it and why should I care?

by Luke Sherrell / Director of Operations class

AMN Academy

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What do you think is more important, Strength and Power, or Coordination and Flexibility?

It depends on the goal I hear you cry! Plus, how strong or how flexible are we talking here? There is a big difference between achieving box splits when compared with touching your toes or bench pressing 200kg’s vs nailing a pull up.

These are fair comments so let me put this another way. If you could be naturally gifted with strength and power or coordination and flexibility, which would you choose?

In the absence of specific goals, the way I’d answer this question is to consider which of the movement qualities are the most difficult to acquire? Without wishing to upset vast numbers of strength and conditioning enthusiasts and coaches, having worked with hundreds of clients for many years, I am inclined to say that it is a simpler process to gain strength and power than it is to become more coordinated and flexible!

Note that I said simpler and NOT easier.

The pursuit of high levels of strength is hard work but if you utilise a progressive training system that involves the manipulation of intensity (load) and volume, over time, you will get stronger. If you also practice moving quickly while applying force, you will become more powerful. I would also like to point out that depending on the individual, the constant pursuit of these two qualities exclusively is often to the detriment of overall movement quality.

Flexibility, mobility and coordination are a little more complicated to acquire. Gaining large increases in flexibility for example is such a long and slow road that many trainers simply don’t include it in their programming. If a client came to you and said I want to become more coordinated, it would be understandable if you felt a little out of your depth. You would first need to understand why the individual is poorly coordinated, which systems to stimulate and which sort of movements are appropriate.

In the world of body weight training, people who are coordinated and flexible require less strength. They have the capacity to manipulate their bodies into angles of leverage that are advantageous instead of fighting against their own tensions and having to muscle their way through things.

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Effortless coordination also suggests that someone also has a highly developed motor system. The peripheral nervous system, cerebellum, pre-motor and motor cortices are well educated, they have a large movement vocabulary, or as I like to call it they have a high level of Movement Intelligence.

So are the elusive skills we speak of more important than strength and power? That really is open to debate, a debate that I do not wish to get in to at this stage. Maybe it’s not that coordination and flexibility are vastly harder to achieve, rather most trainers are less comfortable with how to coach these qualities.

In the AMN system, skill work is the expression of all four qualities and I would like to make a case as to why we should start looking at skill movements as viable exercise options for clients.

Stuntman Olympics 

If there was such a thing, I would be there to watch every single year because of all the athletes I’ve worked with, stuntmen are simply the most awesome.

To be a successful stuntman in modern movies you need to be able to perform:

Acrobatics

Martial Arts, Gymnastics, Parkour, Tricking, Diving, Deep sea diving and Swimming and at some point become comfortable with explosions and being set on fire. These guys are the most impressive athletes I’ve ever seen and their movement skills completely eclipse those of traditional sports.

Our skill based movement system is designed to give the novice trainee, that’s the vast majority of personal training clients and with all due respect, most trainers, somewhere to start learning skill based movement. But its not just friend impressing awesomeness that is up for grabs here.

Skill work combines the expression of strength, power, coordination, mobility, flexibility and balance. There are untold benefits to this kind of movement neurologically but in an industry obsessed with mechanics, many will be pleased to hear that its pretty good for the fascial system too.

Fascia is not simply a mechanical system, far from it! In fact there is no part of the human that is simply mechanical.

Fascia

Fascia has had a pretty big push in the manual therapy and Health & Fitness literature over the last 10 years or so, putting it right at the top of the most popular and often talked about tissue in the human body, and quite rightly so, it’s very important and influential stuff.

Fascia is the primary connective tissue of the body and has many recognisable guises such as ligaments, retinacula, tendons, aponeuroses, fascial bands, plura, meninges, perimysium, epimysium and even the pericardial sac. It is the very fabric that makes the body one single unfathomable piece of genius engineering!

There are a several fascial researchers and therapists whom I greatly respect. Luigi Stecco of Fascial Manipulation is one of them;

Fascia, what is it?

“In medicine, it has always been considered to have a mere function, or role, of containment or restraint, a type of packing material. In recent times, this view has changed somewhat. Fascia actually extends within the muscle, via the perimysium and the endomysium. This continuity means that the contraction of each single muscle fibre transmits to the deep fascia, or the outer most layer of muscle compartments. It is now thought that the fascia could be considered as a conductor of an orchestra playing a symphony of movement, where it synchronises the crescendo of some muscles and the diminuendo of others. The result is harmonious motion.”

Interview of Luigi Stecco by Massimo Ilari

Since some very smart surgeons and anatomists realised that fascia may be more than just the white stuff you need to cut away to get to the muscles, research and hypotheses have come out thick and fast. While some of the claims of fascial based manual therapy techniques may still be unsubstantiated, one description of the fascial system seems to hold true.

Slipping and Sliding 

“Musculoskeletal dysfunction is considered to occur when muscular fascia no longer slides, stretches, and adapts correctly and fibrosis localises in the intersecting points of tension, known as cc and cf. Subsequent adaptive fibroses can develop as a consequence of unremitting non-physiological tension in a fascial segment”.

A Pilot Study: Application of Fascial Manipulation(c) technique in chronic shoulder pain – Anatomical basis and clinical implications. By Day JA, Stecco C, Stecco A (JBMT, 2009)

Whilst I would add a few different and influential factors to explain musculoskeletal dysfunction, I accept the fact that the fascial system works optimally when it is mobile.

Form follows function?

Is a principle associated with modernist architecture and industrial design in the 20th century. The principle is that the shape of a building or object should be primarily based upon its intended function or purpose

We’ve all heard this phrase used within the health and fitness industry to promote a term I hate; ‘functional training’. Well, I don’t really like this statement about form and function either. In an evolutionary sense and with regards to movement, the function of the body was to be capable of interacting effectively with the environment.

Walk, Run, Jump, Hunt, (fight), Climb and Swim : Adaptable Locomotion 

A hypothesis as to why we have such incredibly powerful brains is due to our capacity for complex motion, the variance of the environment and a necessity to be able to predict outcomes of such interactions so as to promote our survival.

These days, the function of the human body is having the freedom and potential to do whatever we want with it. Our form, our design if you will, affords us near limitless movement potential.

Move in a manner that promotes and integrates our form and improved function will follow

Move in a manner that over simplifies our form and function can degrade

Collagen

In response to regular physiological strain, collagen, the basic compound of our connective tissues adapts by altering its architectural properties to meet the imposed demand.

In healthy subjects 50% of collagen fibrils are replaced annually as part of the natural cycle of cellular life. There are hypotheses to suggest that certain movement practices can influence this cycle so as the renewal process promotes improved extensibility, hydration and sliding of fascia which is displayed via increased mobility through open joint angles.

As ever I shall point out that fascia is not alone in this process. In fact it is the proprioceptive sensory system that does the learning, the tissues do the adapting. 

If you’ve ever been amazed, annoyed or both at how incredibly mobile kids are, don’t worry. The example thrown around comparing adult mobility to that of a toddler is plain stupid and in fact, it annoys me! The connective tissue matrix of a child is structurally different to that of an adult. The collagen structure of a child is more undulating, making it naturally much springier. The elderly show fascia that is much flatter and less responsive and there’s even variability in these qualities from person to person.

My 3 year old may have a pretty sweet looking straddle with no training but ask him to jog on the spot as silently as possible and he’ll bash around like a baby rhino.. He may have springy fascia but it’s not all its cracked up to be without motor control!’

Whether it’s been proven in a lab or not, (and apparently it has been) anecdotally we see it all the time. Tissue extensibility improves with the right kind of movement practices. It’s no coincidence that the connective tissue AND nervous systems of Capoeiristas, Gymnasts and Dancers allow them to move with grace and fluidity through full ranges of motion and those of your average weights trainee does quite the opposite.

How we choose to move is important. 

Counter movement and elastic recoil

As if learning to be awesome wasn’t enough! The pursuit of athletic drills and movement skill practice is right on the money to enhance the energy store and release capacity of fascia.

The elastic storage capacity of fascial tissue can be enhanced with correct practice. When performing an athletic warm up we kick shoes off and coach clients to stay on the balls of the feet. We advise that ground contact time should be minimal and they should aim to be as quiet as possible.

Becoming fast and reactive through the lower limbs is a product of training. It strengthens the feet and goes a long way to improving athletic movement in ball sports such as tennis and squash. Some have it naturally while others have to earn it, but it can always be learned and improved.

The energy returning, recoil extensibility of the connective tissue matrix is subconsciously utilised any time we ever jump, throw or kick a ball, it’s also present in just about every one of the dynamic skill movements we provide in the fundamentals.

Flexibility

Flexibility is not gained with a single approach. It is the net result of several complimentary practices of which movement skills like cartwheels, handstands, rolling, athletic drills, bridges and scoots are part of.

With this in mind, let me conclude this article with another question.

“What is more useful and rewarding for you and your clients?”

1. Learning to move in complex patterns that build strength, mobility, coordination, are in tune with our form, improve the brain by engaging in the process of learning and make you look awesome at house parties?

Or 

2. Generic dumbbell rows and chest presses?

I’m a bit biased so I’ll leave you to decide on that one. 

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How to Stream the 2015 Rugby World Cup for FREE with a VPN

Wondering where and how to watch the world cup while in China?

Maybe you’re out in the sticks and there’s no way for you to scrum your way into a crowded bar for some overpriced Guinness to watch your favourite teams beat and bash the living shit out of each other. Maybe you’re in a secluded kung fu school and the closest city just doesn’t cater to showing western sporting events. Despite this, its still possible for the savvy www.StudyMartialArts.Org student to watch your favourite sporting events. You can do access this or footballing events via illegal streaming sites or our preferred method, with the use of a VPN.

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Rugby World Cup Fixtures

Last updated 24th September 2015, based on information from ITV:
(all times are in British Time)

Thursday, 24th September 2015
20:00 New Zealand v Namibia on ITV

Friday, 25th September 2015
16:45 Argentina v Georgia on ITV4

Saturday, 26th September 2015
14:30 Italy v Canada on ITV
16:45 South Africa v Samoa on ITV
20:00 England v Wales on ITV

Sunday, 27th September 2015
12:00 Australia v Uruguay on ITV
14:30 Scotland v USA on ITV
16:45 Ireland v Romania on ITV

Tuesday 29th September 2015
16:45 Tonga v Namibia on ITV4

Thurs 1st October 2015 ITV4
16:45 Wales v Fiji on ITV
20:00 France v Canada on ITV4

Friday 2nd October 2015
20:00 New Zealand v Georgia on ITV

Saturday 3rd October 2015
14:30 Samoa v Japan on ITV
16:45 South Africa v Scotland on ITV
20:00 England v Australia on ITV

Sunday 4th October 2015
14:30 Argentina v Tonga on ITV
16:45 Ireland vs Italy on ITV

Tuesday 6th October 2015
16:45 Canada v Romania on ITV4
20:00 Fiji v Uruguay on ITV4

Wednesday 7th October 2015
16:45 South Africa v USA on ITV
20:00 Namibia v Georgia on ITV4

Friday 9th October 2015
20:00 New Zealand v Tonga on ITV4

Saturday 10th October 2015
14:30 Samoa v Scotland on ITV
16:45 Australia v Wales on ITV
20:00 England v Uruguay on ITV

Sunday 11th October 2015
12:00 Argentina v Namibia on ITV
14:30 Italy v Romania on ITV
16:45 France v Ireland on ITV
20:00 USA v Japan on ITV4

View our current article on the best VPN’s for China.

Who Will Come Out On Top?

Will New Zealand defend their 2011 win?

COME ON IRELAND!!!

Leave a comment and let us know your top picks and predictions!