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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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.

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  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.

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.

The Importance of Hard Qigong in Chinese Traditional Martial Arts

by An Jian Qiu

At An Wushu, we believe that if you want to use your kung fu in combat, you must train hard qigong.

(What is hard qigong? Breathing and conditioning exercises that make your body harder, more resistant to pain, and able to give and take more force without becoming injured. Breaking a brick with your hand is probably the most well-known example.)

Many schools don’t share this belief, so it makes sense you may be wondering why…

Let’s look at a hypothetical scenario: Imagine if you were to go and punch a brick wall as hard as you could, right now. What do you think would happen? You’re probably thinking about:

Hurting your hand badly, maybe even breaking your fingers or wrist
Losing your calm due to the pain
Instinctively hunching over your posture and holding your damaged hand to your chest
Why did this happen?

Obviously, the brick wall was much harder than your hand and wrist… or put differently: your body wasn’t strong enough to deliver your strike.

And what if you’d been fighting a live opponent? Losing focus so drastically can be the difference between life and death or victory and defeat.

Of course, hopefully your opponent isn’t as hard as a brick wall(!), but the difference is small when you’re both moving at high speeds and impacting at the strange angles of real combat, not “straight-on” like when you hit a bag. If you’re unconditioned, it doesn’t take a lot of force to become seriously injured.

Hopefully this has shown you why hard qigong is so important for offense.

What about for defense?

The example is obvious: imagine you get punched in the stomach so hard that you lose track of your senses. The next hit is definitely coming for your head!

At An Wushu, one of the things we recommend all new students do is ask Shiye (Grandmaster) An De Sheng if you can touch his stomach. No, we aren’t crazy… despite being 67-years-old, an age where most will have lost all their muscle mass, Shiye’s stomach is harder than steel from years of hard qigong. (The look of surprise on a new student’s face when they poke Shiye’s stomach is always a fun moment for older students.)

This is what days and days of hard qigong training does to the body: your body becomes not just firm like from working out, but literally hard like iron. This is where the name ‘Iron Body’ comes from.

As you progress through lower levels of training, you’ll find yourself taking less damage: receiving less bruises from sparring and watching them disappear much more quickly.

At higher levels of training, this protects you from even more harm, you heal amazingly quickly, and eventually, your opponent will hurt themselves by hitting you! The level of focus you can now have in training and fighting is what it needs to be for you to reach a truly high level of kung fu skill.

As a bonus, the hard chi that is packed into your body by hard qigong also greatly increases your physical health, your strength and your ability to fali/fajin (generate power). There are schools of Daoism that practice hard qigong purely for its health benefits.

These days, hard qigong isn’t so popular and has been lost from many styles, but in the years of true masters, hard qigong was a core part of all traditional kung fu systems. The ability to survive both your own offence, and your opponent’s, is a non-negotiable for a true fighter.

An Jian Qiu, is the headmaster of An Wushu International Martial Arts School in Dezhou, Shandong Province, China.

For further information on studying at An Wushu or other traditional martial arts schools in China visit www.StudyMartialArts.Org

 

An Family Martial Arts School

Here is our latest StudyMartialArts.Org Video. In this video you’ll see footage from our visit to An Wushu Family Martial Arts School.

An Wushu International Martial Arts School is a kung fu school steeped in family tradition. Located in Prefactured City of Dezhou within Shandong Province the school is just two hours from the capital Beijing by fast train. Dezhou and the School is therefore easily accessible for those wishing to experience traditional Chinese martial arts training.

The school offers both full-time and part-time classes to both Chinese and international students with the international students primarily being taught by An Jian Qiu.

Teaching at the school takes place in a picturesque setting and there is both indoor and outdoor facilities. This school offers a warm welcome to those who are serious about studying martial arts and learning about Chinese culture. Recent improvements to the school mean that it can cater for long term students providing both accommodation and food.

Like and share…

 

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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!

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.

Watch all your favorite sports all the time with a VPN!

Here is a link to our list of reviewed VPN providers. Below you’ll find out how we do it using our most reliable VPN provider to date.

Stream the Rugby World Cup directly on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

Here’s how:

  1. Sign up for an ExpressVPN account.
  2. Install ExpressVPN on any device you want to watch the Rugby World Cup on.
  3. Connect to a VPN server location in the UK to bypass content regional content blocks.
  4. Stream the games on ITV! (Note: You will need to register with ITV Player in order to access ITV)

connect to one of our servers in the uk to watch rugby

Get ExpressVPN

Why Do You Need a VPN?

You need a VPN to access georestricted content.

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With a VPN, you can use different IP addresses to access content in different countries!

watch all the live world rugby cup matches with 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!

Tibetan Sky Burial

by Kerrie Henderson

“Separation of the body and soul”

photo 1(2)This morning, in the hostel in Kangding a Chinese guy asked me whether I’d been to Sida or not. For a lot of young Chinese people it seems to be this years ‘In’ destination… “and did you see the ‘tianzang’ (i guess he didn’t know the right words in English…) ?… I really want to see…” I did, but at Sida I wasn’t that comfortable with it.

I’ve seen one before, 2-3 years ago whilst biking through Gansu province. A body was carried up a hill and a gathering of Tibetan relatives and lamas stood or sat watching. There were a few foreigners there too, but we all knew that our cameras were to be kept inside our bags. We stood watching for around an hour or so… in awe of the birds, their size, their grace and the way they sat on the hill silently, waiting for their turn to pick at the remains….

In Sida its very different. Around 12.00 a handful of drivers stood outside the hilltop hotel yell ‘去天葬吗 ?and Chinese tourists haggle over prices or ask around to find others to fill up their cars. Around 12.30 most of the cars have made their way down to the bottom of the monastery complex and are beeping at each other as they negotiate their way through the muddy bumpy truckstop village at the bottom. The beeping and racing continues as the cars go down the road, turn and go up a smaller narrower mountain road. Its raining but the car park is already half full and its hard to see the end of the line of cars still making their way up the mountain. There are already around a hundred or so tourists, all Chinese stood behind a rope when I arrive. A couple of lamas and nuns (maybe real… maybe tour guides dressed up… I’m really not sure now…) were telling people to stay behind the line and not to take photos of the body or of the people surrounding it. I pointed my camera at the birds, as awesome as I remembered sat waiting patiently on the top of the hillside, looking for the right moment to make their way further down.photo 2(2)

I have no idea when the ceremony started. There was a nun singing ‘o-mani…’ and lots of Chinese people talking. I guess the ceremony wasn’t quite what the Chinese were expecting as most had left within 1/2 an hour or so. I stayed watching the crowd thin, and staring at the line of vultures sat on the hill above me. I couldn’t help wondering why the the vultures were more interested in watching their friends than eating lunch, and then realised I was doing the same thing, not really watching the ceremony and the proceedings but the behaviour of the crowd, and the way the Chinese people reacted to what they were watching. There were a lot of ‘i’m very cold’ and ‘I’m hungry’ ‘s… There were people taking pictures of the birds squabbling over the body (the very thing the monks told them not too…. and, yeah I know I shouldn’t have taken 2 of the pics. here but my iPad doesnt have the same super sized zoom lenses that many of the Chinese photographers cameras do…) A few Tibetan people were gathered around the monument at the bottom, near the pit where the body and vultures were and a few more groups were scattered around the hillside sat quietly. I wondered what they thought about what they were seeing… their relatives death being turned into a macabre tourist attraction, and how westerners would react if a group of Chinese tourists turned up at a church burial wanting to watch when and how the coffin was lowered into the ground and to take pictures of it.  photo 3

I can’t help thinking that death and the ceremonies that surround it are a personal thing, for the families and friends of the person that died. In western culture funerals are usually sad events, but in other cultures (and sometimes in the west, but not often), they are happier occasions, a celebration of the deceased’s life… and that being invited to watch the ceremonies associated with it is a privilege, not something that people should expect to see when they go to a Tibetan tourist place.

photo 4

I wonder whether the monastery is deliberately encouraging the tourist crowds. The sky burial site has a large white monument and construction is underway to make it and the car park alongside it bigger. In Gansu, the ceremony and the place where it took place was simple, the surroundings natural. There was a weird beauty to the proceedings. In Sida there was nothing ‘natural’ about it. 10 minutes or so later when a young boy took my ipad off me to look at my photos I realised that the tour guide/nun had stopped singing and had disappeared. A few minutes later I saw her lead a group of people across the grass, one of the places where were told not to go. The people in her group were pointing their cameras at the vultures and the body below and no one was stopping them. By this time the crowd had thinned out. Horns were beeping as the cars were pushing past each other to make their way out of the car park. The vultures were still picking away or watching and waiting. I stayed a while longer, watching the birds, the snake of cars slowly making its way down the hillside and the small groups of Tibetans sitting in the distance. I couldn’t help wondering who were the vultures. I don’t think the monastery intended to promote this type of tourism, but now that seeing a 49 day old corpse being pulled apart by vultures is one of the latest ‘in’ things for Chinese tourists heading to Sida to see I don’t think it will be easy for them to control.

photo 2(3)

But back to the story… I asked the guy why he wanted to go and see one. ‘because… because everybody talks about it. It sounds good. I really want to see. People say Sida is the best place to see it.’ ‘Maybe you should see it.’ I told him ‘It might make you think…’ but, judging by the group of tourists I watched 4 days ago… I doubt it.

The Tibetan sky-burials appear to have evolved from ancient practices of defleshing corpses as discovered in archeological finds in the region. These practices most likely came out of practical considerations, but they could also be related to more ceremonial practices similar to the suspected sky burial evidence found at Göbekli Tepe (11,500 years before present) and Stonehenge (4,500 years BP).[citation needed] Most of Tibet is above the tree line, and the scarcity of timber makes cremation economically unfeasible. Additionally, subsurface interment is difficult since the active layer is not more than a few centimetres deep, with solid rock or permafrost beneath the surface. (Wikipedia)

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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.