Tag Archives: Kung fu in China

Is Practicing Forms Important for Real Fighting?

by An Jian Qiu

In all martial arts, many students will one day ask themselves:

“Is practicing forms important for real fighting? Should I just be performing drills, or sparring?”

The answer to this is not a simple yes or no because it depends on how you practice your forms:

  • Do you let your mind wander, or are you incredibly focused?
  • Do you ‘take it easy’ and treat it as a warm-up, or are you challenging yourself each time with deep stances and powerful movements?
  • Are you just ‘following the motions’, or do you have a specific goal in mind?

At An Wushu, we believe form training done correctly is incredibly important for developing your kung fu:

  • Forms develop what we call your ‘kung fu body’. Strength and endurance are a very important part of kung fu, but can be developed by many activities; the specific attributes you need for perfecting your kung fu, however – such as flexibility, timing & chi skills – can be best developed through forms
  • Forms teach movements in a logical sequence (e.g., “Strike… if they block, then you do this”) and create useful muscle memory*
  • If you practice your forms the way you fight – with spirit, power, and accuracy – then you’ll fight the way you practice your forms

*Many students are also curious about the applicability of ‘grander’ movements, such as flips, spins, kicks and so on. There are a few schools of thought on this:

  1. In years past, it was not uncommon for future masters to be taught incredibly slowly, often learning a single form over five years! If you have practiced a movement 100,000 times or more, you will definitely be able to use it in combat – even if it is perhaps not as efficient as it could be
  2. Many movements are taken to their extreme to better develop the body: e.g., if you train with your horse stance at parallel, spending minutes then hours in this position each day for many years, your legs will become incredibly strong. If you only stand at ‘fighting height’ for these years of training, you will miss out on this strength.
  3. In some styles, there are moves that are simply not meant to be used in combat, e.g., backflips, and are simply there to develop the body of the practitioner. Similar to Point 2, if you spend years training backflips, you will have much more explosive muscles and better co-ordination than if you didn’t. (Note: There are no movements like this in An Wushu, however, as part of a complete training system this is a great way to train.)
  4. Much of the power generated in kung fu is difficult to do in a small way until you can do it in a big way: e.g., even a beginner can sharply twist their body, push off their heel and throw a strong ‘cross’ punch (albeit at the probable cost of their balance). But if they limit their twist to only 1-inch, can they generate power? The answer is no. By starting with an over-exaggerated movement, a beginner is able to gain the internal feeling needed for any movement and gradually refine the movement to its usable form.

So, is practicing forms important for real fighting? As with anything in kung fu and in life, you only get out what you put in.

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.

Advertisements

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.

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…

 

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 22.44.23

The Best VPN’s for China

The Internet & VPNs

Why can’t I access some websites in China?

Google services (e.g. Gmail, Google Maps), Wikipedia, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and other social media website are either blocked while many other sites are accessible but they may be censored or their performance compromised in Mainland China by the governments famous “Great Firewall of China”. Normal Internet habits are often more difficult in China, so you may find it more difficult to keep in touch with friends and family in the usual way. Don’t worry though, all’s not lost, a VPN can help you jump over the great fire wall of China.chinawordpressSo what is a VPN anyway? And how can I access these sites? Well, a VPN is a Virtual Private Network.

Many travelers and students purchase these VPN’s in order to circumvent the Great Firewall by making your location and Internet content invisible, thereby allowing you to access blocked websites. Hide_My_Ass_405042Below is a selection of some of the best VPNs for China in terms of price and reliability.

  1. Hide My Ass

Hide my ass is a UK based service, it has a 30 day money back guarantee, lots of server choice, no bandwith restrictions, lots of freebies, and has a great VPN client and website. In terms of the set up this VPN is very easy to instal on your computer and its one of the World’s leading VPN’s.

  1. Astrill

Astrill is fairly reliable and one of the most popular VPN service commonly used in China. It has unlimited download bandwidth and is among one of the cheaper services available hence its popularity. However, their help and support could definitely be better and recently its performance has been patchy.

  1. ExpressVPN

Express VPN is very fast safe and has a money back guarantee. Its dedicated customer service support is excellent and it has unlimited downloads. The only downside is that it’s a bit more expensive than the others, but more on that later.

  1. Hide.me

I’ve included Hide.me as an option here as it offers a free basic service with limited functions. As it’s basic option is free there are a limited amount of servers available and downloads are restricted to 2GB. However, if you’re just looking to check your emails or Facebook every now and again it might just save you some money and would be a much safer option than other free services like Vtunnel or Freegate.

IPVanish_VPN_420944_i0

  1. StrongVPN

A large US based VPN provider, StrongVPN is both high-profile, and popular. However, despite this reviewers have been unimpressed with its overall attitude to privacy, and performance. If the service was a budget offering it wouldn’t be so bad, but StrongVPN is also one of the most expensive providers. Despite this in terms of its performance in China, it does pretty well but when compared to other premium services it doesn’t always feel premium.

  1. IPvanish

IPVanish is a relatively new VPN provider that was created by specialists with more than a decade of experience in network management, IP and content delivery services. The company was founded with the goal of providing excellent customer service and extremely affordable prices. The company has a large staff to help clients as they configure their products, and is widely considered one of the VPNs with the fastest Internet speeds in the US. IPvanish was vote by top10best websites to be the best VPN 2014. This new kid on the block has got potential and serious kick for the price.

So why not just use a free services to access blocked sites?

There are a number of free portals or proxy sites to access blocked websites in China however, they often come with restricted downloads or functions. For example, a proxy such as Vtunnel, can let you access the mobile version of Facebook, but it rarely downloads it all.

Freegate is also an option however, free service have also been known to open your computer up to viruses and hacking. If you must go for a free service, go with the safe option Hide.me above.

So what VPN service do I recommend based on reliability service and price? 

At present for StudyMartialArts.Org purposes we use ExpressVPN. ExpressVPN has consistently been the fastest VPN provider with excellent support for all our devices. To date it has also been best-in-class for security features. Therefore ExpressVPN is our top choice. With a speed-optimized server network spanning 78 countries, ExpressVPN is one of the most trusted in the market. Setting up and using this VPN is super easy. Their apps for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS connect you with a single click to any server location you choose. ExpressVPN is ultra-secure and anonymizes your online identity behind powerful encryption and multiple VPN protocols and has 24/7 tech support. Because of this they aren’t the cheapest provider. ExpressVPN includes a 30 day money back guarantee on all purchases.

Here’s my top 3 in no particular order:

Hide My Ass

IPvanish

ExpressVPN

expressvpn-logo

9 Mistakes to Avoid when Learning Chinese at a Kung fu School in China

If you’re studying martial arts in China whether north or South, the chances are you might also be learning the language or at least have it as one of your goals. Whether your motivation is a deeper understanding of your Shifu and the various martial arts concepts he or she is teaching you or whether it is simply to make living in China easier, learning the language makes your experience more colorful and opens greater possibilities. And yes and those possibilities also improve your chances of success with the opposite sex.

This article is specifically tailored to highlight the common mistakes that martial arts students and adventure travelers often make when attempting to learn the language.

71martialarts-clanofthewhitelotus (Custom)

Mistake #1: Assuming the language learning classes at the kung fu school of your choice will be enough to give you a basic understanding of Chinese

Over the past 10 years many kungfu schools in China have developed specifically to cater to international kung fu students. Many of these have divided and sub divided over the years. The result has been many schools are hard to tell apart except for their locations. The heads of these schools through their shared experiences have caught onto the fact that many of their potential students are looking for a total experience. They are not just after expert kung fu tuition from ‘Shaolin masters’ they want language learning classes, buddhism classes, calligraphy and even TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). So with one school offering this the rest attempt to follow suit. Promising to over deliver on value for money with these optional evening classes.

The truth is however, that the optional evening classes most schools offer are generally very basic and only meant to be introductory at best and at worst are poorly structured, and a total waste of time. For the purpose of this article I am going to concentrate on the mandarin classes.

Generally, these are taught by inexperienced translators working at the schools who often have little or no teaching experience. This makes the class itself, structure and content rather random. Another additional challenge you will face is that these classes are often open to all school new comers who have a varying degree of seriousness about learning the language. The result is that every few sessions you might be back to learning, ‘

'Ni hao'
你好

And listening to your new class mates ask questions such as, ‘how do I say you are beautiful in Chinese?’ or ‘how do I say this is too expensive!’

The solution is to not expect too much from the free language learning classes and instead to take control of your own learning.  I recommend you buy structured Hanban HSK Chinese language learning books, Practical Chinese Reader. And work toward completing the HSK exams. This will help you set achievable incremental goals. HSK books generally have a text book, workbook and audio files/cd’s, dvd’s. These books start from beginner level and work up to advanced. HSK Level 1-6.

Using these books as the main foundation for your course material will give your Chinese class structure and provide the teacher with set lessons to help you complete the books.

NOTE: If you would like us to send you any of these books please let us know and we will order them and send them direct to your school so they are either ready for you on your arrival or soon after.

So the language classes at the kung fu schools might not be the best. However, they are great value for money and with the right attitude and some dedication they can still get you the basic Chinese and the foundational level you want.

26BBAE0C00000578-3000324-image-a-13_1426675428565Mistake #2: Not mastering tones

If you speak Chinese without proper tones you might as well be half deaf and dumb. The tones are the foundation of the language so time spent here and reviewing this will really help you get your learning off on the right track. If you don’t almost no one is going to understand you. No one except your classmates and your, teacher, the same teacher that’s used to students mangling his or her language. Once you step outside the warm cocoon of the classroom, everything changes.

But Chinese people can guess what you’re trying to say, right? Wrong.

The reason why is simple but hard to fathom for people who didn’t grow up speaking a highly tonal language — to a native speaker of Chinese, the different between tones is just as pronounced as that between consonants — perhaps even greater. Now, I’m sure you will debate time and time again with your fellow foreign friends but surely the context makes it clear! Trust me save yourself some pain, embarrassment and frustration. Master the tones early on.

Here are some articles that might help speed up the process: Master the Tones and Mandarin Tone Tricks.

In addition to this in the SMA Welcome Pack provided to students who book their training through www.StudyMartialArts.Org we’ll provide you with a Michelle Thomas Audio that will help you distinguish the tones and make you familiar with them in quite a unique way. Green Thumb Up!

Kung Fu Hustle_5

Mistake #3: Not learning characters

What about characters — won’t leaping over them help you reach conversational fluency faster? Sure, in the beginning, Pinyin is easier, after all, and you’ll free up time to practice conversation. But characters are nothing if not an aid to your learning at the higher levels. They help you watch TV, get around town, and do pretty much everything you need to live in China without assistance. The other thing is that visual learners find learning characters re-enforces their existing learning.

Wouldn’t living in China be even better if you could read those old kung fu manuals. What price would you put on learning the ancient buddha palm? Like in the movie ‘kung fu hustle’?

It is true however that not everyone is interested in characters. Maybe your goal is just simple conversations for the heck of it. In that case you don’t need to learn characters. If you want to get any further, characters will help you when you want to go. And luckily for you there are lots and lots of apps, websites and free materials you can get your hands on to help you learn characters.

Here is a good app for learning how to write Chinese Characters, its called Skritter. Skritter allows you to write Japanese and Chinese characters with a mouse or a tablet and get a score and suggestions on how to improve your handwriting. And here is another app its called Memrise.

Memrise is community based learning app that uses images and science to make learning easy and fun. It does this through connecting audio, imagery, pinyin and character recognition.

Mistake #4: Not being consistent and persevering

Use all the opportunities available to you to learn. Pick a day each week where you force yourself just to use Chinese. The trick is to use the language when the opportunity presents itself. Immerse yourself in the language and the country and enjoy the experience. To do this you must be consistent and persevere. Making a learning plan with set learning goals for each week will definitely help but remember having goals is not the be all and end all.

563373_2994181535231_1282963545_3218727_417877125_n1

Mistake #5: Focusing on progress over process

Having goals for learning Chinese is fine, and can take you a long way on the path to fluency. But you may end up going crazy long before you reach your destination. That’s because a realistic expectation for learning Mandarin to true fluency might be five to twenty years!

It’s easy to get discouraged when you make mistakes or don’t see rapid progress. So what can you do to stay sane?

First, accept that you are not Chinese, and even after years of hard work you’re still going to make stupid mistakes. The more the better, as we’ll talk about in a moment.

Second, enjoy the journey — make your goal using Chinese instead of mastering it. Focus on today, not where you want to be next year. That doesn’t mean abandoning long term goals or not setting them at all. It means focusing on the here and now and being happy with your current level of Chinese and using it. And you can do that by avoiding a common mistake that Chinese language learners make:

Mistake #6: Not making good Chinese friends

If you’re really going to master the language, you need to get out there. That’s because language can’t be completely built within the warm confines of a classroom. You find the missing pieces by getting exposed to real Chinese. A lot of it. Making interesting Chinese friends is one way to get this exposure. If you feel awkward speaking to your Chinese friends in Chinese, you need to make more friends or learn more Chinese, or both. When you find a friend who doesn’t mind speaking Chinese with you, see if you can get them to correct some of your mistakes. This is the advice that Tim Ferris gives best, from Why Language Classes Don’t work: “Make it your goal to screw up as often as possible in uncontrolled environments. Explicitly ask friends to correct you and reward them with thanks and praise when they catch you spouting nonsense, particularly the small understandable mistakes. I was able to pass the Certificatdo de Espanol Avanzado, the most difficult Spanish certification test in South America, in eight weeks, which is said to require near-native fluency and years of immersion. How? By following the above fixes and making more mistakes in eight weeks than most make in eight years.” – Tim Ferris Make as many mistakes as you can, and try to get people to point them out to you. It may be awkward at first, but it’s the best way to improve your speaking. But like you wouldn’t jump into the Amazon without learning how to swim, you need to learn the basics before putting yourself out there. One way to do so better is by avoiding this common mistake:

Mistake #7: Not using the best learning materials available

Most people think that having a great teacher is more important than having a great textbook. Personally, I agree with Tim Ferris and what he says in the article linked above: great textbooks + an average teacher > average textbooks + an great teacher. Whether or not you take formal language classes, the best learning materials will help you learn Chinese better.

Here are three sources I highly recommend:

1. Chinesepod.com — Their podcasts and other audio aides make this the best choice if you can’t attend real classes or get much time with a good tutor / language exchange partner.

2. Integrated Chinese (Princeton University Press)– This is the most thorough textbook introduction to Chinese I know of. If you learn everything in the first two year’s worths of books, you’ll have succeeded in building a good foundation for later learning.

3. Fluentu is a website with the best Mandarin Chinese video content. It’s fun, timely, and ideal for Chinese learners. It has Chinese movie trailers, Chinese music videos, Commercials, and Business Chinese videos. No matter what your interest or level of fluency, we’ve got what you’re looking for.

Learn-Chinese-in-China

Mistake #8: Settling for poor classes

A bad class can sometimes be worse than no class at all — spending time and energy on average classes and with teachers who force feed you the same lessons or that have no imagination or class structure is not something you want to do. So take control of your learning.

The quality of the textbooks — Don’t settle for poor texts use New Practical Chinese Reader to being with.

The size of classes — For the most part will be small. The problem is the numbers are likely to fluctuate throughout the year during peak and quiet times at the school

The levels of classes — Most schools will have only one level it therefore will be up to you to put a case for adding extra levels. The most likely solution will be that you recommend the school has 1 level for beginners and new arrivals and another for students serious about learning Chinese.

If your teachers have experience teaching foreigners — part of the reason these classes can be so frustrating is that its likely your teacher will be totally clueless about teaching foreigners Chinese — by forcing the structure of a text and workbook you can limit this. Finally, don’t make this mistake as you will need it:

Mistake #9: Not using kickass tools for learning Chinese

There’re many tools for learning Chinese online. But these are some of the very best:

1. Google’s Character writing software There’s no better character input system than Google’s Pinyin input system. It reponds fast to your typing, guesses what characters you want incredibly well, and allows you to type out strings as long as you want. All that means a really convenient way of typing Chinese.

2. Chinese Pera-kun Have you ever wished you could hover your mouse over a character or group of characters and see its pinyin and meaning instantly? Well, a plugin for Firefox, and google chrome Chinese Pera-kun, can help you do this. It’s not perfect but it comes close.

3. Anki

This fantastic piece of SRS software”) lets you keep track of everything you’re learning and study it efficiently. If you’re starting out learning Mandarin (or any language), I’d strongly recommend using Anki from the beginning. If you’re already some way into the language, start creating flashcards as soon as possible. Anki’s cool because it’s fairly easy to get up and running, but the more you use it the more you come to realise how deep its features and capabilities go. It can’t do everything for you, but it can make the time you put in much more effective. If you use nothing else from this list, use Anki.

4. Sinosplice John Pasden’s blog Sinosplice has a collection of very clear, accurate guides for learning Mandarin, particularly for the early stages. You can save yourself a lot of time by reading these and getting a few things right from the beginning (particularly tones and pronunciation in general).

5. MDBG & Pleco A good quality free dictionary had to make it on to this list somewhere, and I find MDBG to be the best Chinese dictionary. It’s very fast and reliably online, and it’s also the result of an admirable community project to build a free and open dictionary. I would have put nciku here, but I find it’s either very slow or inaccessible, and when it actually does load, the interface is a overwhelmed by advertising. It has great content but really is hampered by these issues. Pleco is a great free app. It also supports the iPad, while many other iPhone dictionaries don’t. Pleco has an integrated dictionary / document reader / flashcard system with fullscreen handwriting input and live OCR.

6. Tatoeba The Tatoeba project logoDictionaries are useful for quick checks on words, particularly from the target language into your own. But experienced language learners know that to accurately grasp the meaning of a word you need to see it in action. For this you need example sentences, and Tatoeba is quickly becoming the best resource for this. It’s already got a huge database of examples sentences, and more are being added every hour. The thing that makes Tatoeba stand out though is that it’s more than a 1 – 1 list of translations; it’s a web of translations. It’s also a free, community-based project (you might have realised by now that I really like free, community-based projects). This means that if there’s something you don’t know how to express in Mandarin, you can just add it in English and wait for someone to come along and translate it.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 22.44.23

So there you have. Watch out for the mistakes and enjoy your learning. For further information on the best places to learn Chinese, visit StudyMartialArts.Org

10 Mistakes Foreign Martial Arts Students Make in China

China awaits! The Great Wall; steamed dumplings, Shaolin monks and Qingdao beer. Already your mind is racing with wild expectations. However, before you leave home, remember this is a chance to immerse yourself in a strange new culture. This is not just any trip. This is a journey! By Studying Martial Arts you will interact with local communities more deeply than a traveler passing through.

Whether you experience a culture shock or not, there will be moments when you realize you’re doing something “wrong”. It might be small things like explaining you’re learning to sleep (Shuìjiào) instead of Chinese Wrestling (Shuāijiāo) or raising your glass higher than your elders when toasting. Then of course there are the obvious blunders like behaving like an ass on weekends away from your kung fu school or incessantly bitching about the fact things aren’t the same as they are back home.

China is a country made up of 22 provinces and 56 ethnic minority groups many of which have very different cultures, languages, dialects, customs and peoples. It has a population equivalent to the population of North America, South America, Australia, New Zealand and all of Western Europe combined. Its bigger than an entire continent, so its not surprising that its developed differently to other counties you may be more accustomed to.

Each  province and city will have its own speciality that you’ll learn along the way. You’ll make mistakes and discoveries but its all part of learning, but there are some no-no’s that foreigners before you have commonly committed. Learn from their blunders and avoid these common mistakes made by foreign martial arts students who head of to study martial arts in China month after month, year after year.

1. Not making the most of National Holidays and Weekends

In order to make the most of your weekends and time off from training you’ll need to put a plan together. Spending a little time at the local bathing center on the weekend can be a welcome treat allowing the body rest and recuperation. However, there is a distinct difference between the mighty Roman gladiator and spending hours plodding around in the dark like the walking dead.

If you want to sight see or travel, tickets need to be purchased in advance, planning and preparation is the key. As will be your willingness to travel alongside millions of other travelers. Last years golden week saw half a billion Chinese make various trips and journeys. That’s a lot of pot noodles and chicken feet, so don’t underestimate the need to plan ahead. The Travel China Guide has always been very helpful for trip planning and site seeing information. Here you’ll find The Chinese Public Holiday Calendar for 2015-2017.  

 “Last years golden week saw half a billion Chinese make various trips and journeys”

One of the best things about the school consultation offered through Study Martial Arts is the travel advice and support you can get. It will help you get the most out of sight seeing opportunities both near and far. Plus its all good stuff and FREE for SMA members and those who have booked their experience through StudyMartialArts.Org.

2. Assuming You Can’t Get By on the Basics

Does everyone speak English? No. Do a lot? Yes. The number of English language learners in China has risen over the past decade. In tourist areas and capitals, its easier to find English speakers, but you shouldn’t expect it. Being open friendly, smiling, and using gestures as well as interesting ways to get your message across in a friendly way will do wonders for you. When I first arrived in China many of my friends who had much more experience speaking the language than me would be amazed at how well I would do with the most basic of Chinese. The only difference was my playful disposition and imagination. 9 out of 10 times I would not only get what I wanted but often get much more in return. This ranged from free lifts, meals, KTV invites and of course lasting friendships. Treat English like a welcome surprise, if you find it be happy, but if you don’t remember there was no promise it would be given to you anyway. Remember not to make your martial arts adventure in China a duplicate of your life in Europe or the USA etc.

At the sometime don’t assume no one speaks English either. There are approximately 400 million English learners in China so it shouldn’t be used as a language to insult people stealthily. English comprehension is often much higher than speaking ability due to shyness and how the language is taught.

If you want to get a head start on your language learning the SMA Welcome pack offers students who book through StudyMartialArts.Org $400 usd worth of language learning and martial arts materials pre-trip all at no cost!

6a00e5517a64b288340168e809ccba970c-320wi

3. Drinking the Wrong Way

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. 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 its own blog entry 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.

4. Failing to Address People Properly 

In China much of how you address or interact with someone will depend on your relationship to that person. Just like the rituals associated with drinking and food, failing to address people properly can be a hinderance to building good relationships, gaining favor or simply getting the information you desire. The physiological fact is that when you start calling people auntie, uncle, brother or sister you should in most cases have the inclination to treating each other better and like family. This is good news if you join a good kung fu family.

Here are the most common ways to address people that are not directly related to blood relationships and can be applied generally.

Auntie (阿姨 a-yi) given to any woman around the age of your own mother.

Uncle  (叔叔 shush) given to any man around the age of your own father.

Big brother ( 大哥 da-ge) given to any male older than you.

Little brother ( 弟弟 di-di) given to any male younger than you.

Big sister (大姐 da-jie) given to any female older than you.

Little sister (小妹 xiao-mei/妹妹mei-mei) given to any female younger than you.

Grandma (老奶奶 lao- nainai/老婆婆lao-popo) given to any female around the age of your own grandmother.

Grandpa (老爷爷lao-yeye/ 老公公lao-gonggong) given to any male around the age of your own grandpa

Teacher

老師 老师 lǎoshī Teacher “Laoshi” may sometimes be used as a polite reference to a more highly educated person, who may not necessarily be a teacher.

Master

師父 师父 shīfù Master See Sifu for further information.
師傅 (skilled worker) 师 傅 shīfù Master See Sifu for further information.

Driver (司机si ji) General term for a taxi or bus driver.

Buddy (哥们儿ge men er) A term used between men when being friendly

Beautiful girl (美女mei nv) Often used when addressing young women who work in the service industry.

Mr (先生xian sheng)

Ms (小姐xiao jie)

Mrs (女士nv shi)

Thankfully the general terms above is likely to more than enough to help you get by day to day. If however, you’d like to learn more you can watch this short video highlighting the staggering amount of different words for family members in China.

5. Not Making the Most out of China’s Vast Bus & Train Network

China has an abundance of travel options for the intrepid martial arts traveller. From low budget airfares to high speed trains, bus services and slow trains.

Chinese-conductors-007

Elong and Ctrip are two of the best airline ticketing companies in China. Both companies handle domestic and international flights and their websites are easy to use. Often it’s going to be worth comparing domestic flight prices with high speed train tickets as they are pretty competitive in comparison to the high speed trains. The cheapest way to travel is normally by long distant bus and depending on the journey can often be faster than long distant trains.

“If you want to buy a ticket travel or book into a hotel you’ll need your passport.”

If you do choose to travel by train you can easily pick up tickets from one of the many ticket offices near stations or dotted around cities. Simply search online for information and go prepared with train numbers, dates and useful phrases.

Traveling overnight by train can be both fun and enjoyable. If you’ve got money to spend go for the soft sleeper. Soft sleepers are (4 birth cabins) and idea in a group of 4. If their are non available or you are on a budget then the hard sleeper will do (6 birth cabin).

Seated or standing options for long journeys is something you’ll want to avoid. It will be an experience but it usually doesn’t make for a fun journey. If you’ve no other choice and there are no tickets left you can often ask to be upgraded. So use your relationship building skills with the conductors and service staff to gain favor.

As an alternative when no seats are available the dinning car can offer some welcome rest, however you will be obliged to buy overpriced food and drink throughout the journey if you wish to remain in the seat.

The last option of course is to bring your own stool and tea flask like the seasoned local traveler you are becoming. NOTE: Definitely bring your tea and flask. 

For both trains and buses you should plan to be at the stations 30-40 minutes before they leave. With stations being so big , walking time, confusion and queues mean you’re likely to miss the train if you cut it too fine. Most importantly, if you want to buy a ticket travel or book into a hotel you’ll need your passport.

Here’s a more in-depth article on all you need to know about buying and using train and bus tickets in China.

6. Not Making the Most out of the Cheap Internal Flights 

China has two great, reliable budget air travel companies. These are Ctrip and elong. Both have English website versions and don’t charge foreigner site users more for flight purchases. The only downside is that they no-longer offer their cash and delivery service, purchases must now be made by credit card.

So plan your internal flights ahead of time. Check for deals and book well in advance of Chinese holidays. If you follow these rules it could be that flying will be very competitive in comparison to purchasing train tickets when you consider the potential time you might lose during transit, money spent while traveling and of course the convenience of plane travel.

7. Clinging to Western Comforts and Society as well as Westerners themselves and Not Embracing your New Found Freedom. 

Martial arts students in China have a much wider range of opportunity than tourists. You not only have a real chance to experience another culture. You have a chance to leave any previous cultural trappings and personal baggage behind you and start afresh. Affectively, you can drop out of both western and the modern Chinese rat race and return to a simpler way of life without the negative influences of celebrity, trash tv, news or politics. After all you are paying for the opportunity to live a unique way of life and train. Don’t waste that opportunity by hanging out every rest period online or by spending time with westerners who are a negative influence, simply because they are western and familiar.

Tourists come to China to see the sites, but you are a martial arts student. You have specifically come to learn kung fu in China! You have signed up to experience a way of life that allows you the space and time to train martial arts day in day out. One of the side benefits of this training is that you will be able to find the space and time to breath literally and metaphorically. You can’t do this if you seek every trapping and convenience from the West that you left behind.

Studying martial arts in China offers you a much wider range of opportunity than many other potential activity. You can discover not only the real China but more importantly the real you. Don’t waste this by clinging to familiar crutches.

“StudyMartialArts.Org will even pay their SMA students for articles.”

Whether your reasons for coming to China have been to study martial arts or simply for travel and adventure. The fact you decided to become a martial arts student changed all that. Your focus for the time you are at the school should be mastery and reaching new levels of skill, whatever they maybe. This is the reason you became a student, not making training your priority defeats the purpose and is annoying to the students who are doing just that. Your behavior has the potential to be either positive or negative. Students with a lack of discipline or demonstrating a lack of effort aren’t likely to be warmly welcomed. So if you’re not truly dedicated get ready to get the cold shoulder from the long-term students in your class. Skill level is not as important as attitude.

In short.

1. Focus on your training nothing else matters. It’s your priority now, so train hard and be honest with yourself.

2. Drop negative influences and old crutches.

3. Don’t spend longer than you have to on Facebook or social networks. Keep it to an hour or two max and at the weekend.

4. Leave news, politics, opinions and celebrity to others. Drop all negative influences and only keep what is essential.

5. Pick up a good book, you know the ones you’ve been planning to read and never have. Begin studying and focus on your own mind, body and spirit.

6. If you feel inspired write and journal your progress. This will allow you to keep track of your progress and your discoveries. If what you’re writing is good and you have a story to tell www.StudyMartialArts.Org will even pay their SMA students for articles! 

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 22.44.23

 8. Not Practicing Your Foreign Language Skills

Maybe part of the experience for you is learning the language. You’ve spent months in preparation using the free language learning resources from SMA or you’re taking classes for Studying Chinese and preparation to actually use it, but now you hear it everywhere you’re too intimidated to use it. The biggest mistake would be letting all the work go to waste because you’re shy. Another big mistake would be thinking that the Chinese language classes at the kung fu schools will be of any real help. Usually, these classes offer a token introduction and are not structured. The quality is generally low and is interrupted by new arrivals. My advice is to make the most out of the SMA language resources. SMA provides language learning materials for our students that actually work. Some are free and some we will order in advance of your arrival at the school. Which means that when you arrive you will have a HKS (Official Hanban language learning materials). These include a text book, workbook and accompanying audio CD’s. Here is the StudyMartialArts.Org list of Kung fu Schools and Universities in China that actually can provide students a  quality martial arts and Chinese language learning experience. 

If you’re in a country where the language interests you, you are in the most ideal classroom and take full advantage of it. Whether it feels scary or not, take every opportunity to practice. Here are 5 Hacks for Learning a Language Abroad, even eavesdropping on stranger’s conversations is an opportunity to learn something new and test your language skills!

9. Forgetting the RMB has a Value 

Sound strange? Think again. As a previous long term martial arts student and now resident I have to admit I get tired of having to haggle. However, this is unavoidable, therefore it’s important to know the value of your money and what things cost not in comparison to your respective country but in terms of the cost in China. When fresh faced martial arts students arrive at a kung fu school your first job when outside the school will be paying for things and learning the subtleties of a good haggle.  If you’ve got the right attitude your fellow kung fu brothers and sisters at the school will help keep you right.

Foreigners in China getting ripped off or paying over the odds for things is not a new phoneme. Don’t reenforce that through ignorance or lack of care, after all you may have lots of money or might only be there for a short time but others at the school will be there for longer and on budgets. Don’t make that harder for them by allowing yourself to be taken for a ride or paying silly prices for essential items in and around the school.

10. Handing Over Responsibility for Your Own Learning

Ultimately you must be mature enough to take responsibility for your own learning, development and progression. Yes you are paying tuition and you will be taught, however without hard work (kung fu) you will get little in return. The most important aspects of any martial art training is in the development of the foundation. The bitter pill of training, overcoming pain, repetition and boredom through persistence. This is up to you and can’t be put on anyone else.

“The most important aspect of any martial arts training is in the  development of the foundation”.

If you’ve decided to study martial arts in China, you will make a few mistakes. Don’t let this scare you off though. Instead, remember you chose this journey for a reason, and make sure to take full advantage of the opportunities. Immerse yourself in your study and the experience and grow with each mistake.

When you do mess up, you might not know why right away, so ask your martial brothers and sisters, locals or friends and when you look back, you’ll probably laugh when you remember the wrong things you said or did!

It’s not about how many times you fall its about how many times you dust yourself off and pick yourself up!

high-speed-premium-vpn-728x90-d5b5ef120ae5ca0c69e501d3a6d39f94