My stay at Rising Dragon Martial Arts School (RDS) was overall an amazing experience, and one that I will always cherish. The people, the temple, the hard and the fun moments, I miss them all. Self growth, mentally and physically is a given at RDS, push yourself and you will see great results. I would definitely recommend this experience to anyone who wants to get fit and learn some kung fu in a beautiful location. The school location is great, set in a beautiful temple complex with a backdrop of mountains and clean air, and beautiful forest everywhere that we ran through and could take walks.
The training itself was hard and challenging. It pushed me to my limits and beyond many times, which mostly I think was good, and I have gained a lot from it. I do think however, that at times it was too much. 6hrs of intensive exercise and training 5 days/week is a lot, especially if you are not at a high level of fitness already. My body became a lot stronger very quickly, but it has been pushed very hard and I have been struggling with injuries because of it.
I also found that because of the intensity of the morning circuits, I was unable to train to my fullest during the Shaolin class. If you are after fitness with kung fu mixed in, then you will love RDS, if you want more martial arts, then maybe its not the right place. In saying that, Meng, the Shaolin teacher, is amazing! Such a skilful Shaolin master and a great person and friend. It was a pleasure to be taught by him and to watch him demonstrate movements.
Activities & Food
Some of the activities and martial arts styles that are supposedly available, are not, or were not when I was there, which was disappointing. There was no mandarin, calligraphy or buddhism classes, minimal tai chi and no qigong. The food was pretty good and tasty, a bit too oily at times, but had a decent variety of veg and protein. No fruit is provided unfortunately, but you can by this in town. The accommodation is good, decent sized rooms, private bathrooms, western toilets, hard single beds, but hey its China. All in all, can’t complain, I was comfortable.
How I booked this experience
I definitely recommend booking through StudyMartialArts.Org (SMA) and utilising all the useful information that is provided here. Also David is amazing and super helpful and will make sure you pick the right school that suits your needs and make sure you get there.
There are many teachers who work with applications of techniques but not necessarily with an in depth understanding of fighting at speed and with power as in MMA and with the experience that Nick has gained.
I first trained with Nick earlier this year for 2 days. I learned more in those 2 days than I have with regular training in external martial arts over a much longer period.
The recent course Nick is currently running was an exceptional experience of learning, awareness and realisation. There are many aspects to this training that you have to be cognizant of and be patient with. You have to understand your body in movement, space and time, its effort and flow, its biomechanical processes and the energetic framework.
If you are new to these aspects they will evolve through the instruction and exercises given.
Nick is a knowledgeable martial artist who explains and instructs with a clear and patient manner and knows when to allow the participant to discover and find how to apply the developing skill.
He works with a clear concise method and framework, from physical to energetic, with attention to body and mind. Internal work takes time to grow and to manifest in the body.
In the years of my training I have not found anyone quite like Nick, he is a unique individual and I will be continuing my journey of discovery under his guidance in the coming years as and when I can train with him.
David Greeves, is a martial arts choreographer, who also does wire work and harness training. David teaches movement for actors for productions from Opera to Bollywood. Here is a link to his website www.djgreeves.com where you can learn about the training he offers.
Thanks to my wonderful colleagues at StudyMartialArts.Org, I’m able to share this list of full-time Martial Arts School Reviews. Click the link and you’ll be able to compare and contrast Martial arts schools based on student reviews, price and StudyMartialArts.Org’s independent assessment.
Below you’ll find a list of schools that currently have the most reviews on the www.StudyMartialArts.Org website. Please note that after 5 page views you’ll be asked to login to the site. This is easy and nothing to worry about. If you find the site useful and want to learn more contact StudyMartialArts.Org for a full consultation on schools, training and travel. The consultation service is free and there is no obligation. However, to keep the service free, make your booking through them. Booking through SMA is the smart thing to do as it affords students who use there service two essential things that should give you piece of mind.
Firstly, you get extra support!
And secondly schools are less likely to bullshit you or rip you off.
Tianmeng Shaolin Kung Fu Academy primarily focuses on teaching the traditional Meihua Quan (Plum Blossm Fist) which has both internal and external elements. In addition to Meihua Quan, Shaolin Kung Fu, Qigong, Qin Na, Tai Chi, Xingyi, Bagua, are also taught here. The school itself is relatively new and it has all the facilities that students will require to build a solid foundation in Martial Arts or reach higher levels. The school is unique for Meihua poles and Meihua training methods. These are designed to impove balance, internal power and footwork in a very short time.
Master Chen Fusheng’s Martial Arts Academy is located in Lixian Zhen, Daxing District of Beijing. Here you will learn traditional Bagua, Bajiquan, Pigua, Qi gong, Tai Chi, Tong Bei, Gong Li, Xi Yang Zheng, Hei Hu, Xingyi and Praying Mantis. Master Chen will teach you the best aspects of each of these styles for combat as well as his own Qi gong and fighting style Ba Ji Zhan Dao this is translated as Baji Battle Way. Master Chen has a vast wealth of knowledge in traditional martial arts and also in martial, healing and longevity qigong.
Rising Dragon Martial Arts School is location in Yongping county in Southern Yunnan Province. Yongping County is a very mountainous region which borders Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam and has an average altitude of 1980m. YongPing has a population of around 170,000. and is located roughly in between the two Cities Dali and BaoShan, which are both no more than an hour’s drive away. The area is steeped in history with numerious temples, senic areas, mountains, lakes and even natural hot springs to visit.
Kunyu Mountain Shaolin Martial Arts Academy is a popular and long running International Kung Fu Schools in Shandong Province. Located in a beautiful rural setting on the edge of the Kunyu Shan National Park the school offers students of all abilities the chance to learn Shaolin Kung Fu, Taichi, Qigong,Wing Chun, Xingyi, Bagua, Baji, Northern Praying Mantis and Sanda.
Kunlun International Martial Arts School is a traditional Chinese kung fu school in rural Yantai. The school adjoins and uses the facilities of an ex-military base so as a result has excellent facilities. The school employes translators and has support staff in Yantai City. The School specialises in Seven Star Praying Mantis Boxing, Plum Blossom Praying Mantis Boxing, and Throwing Hand Praying Mantis Boxing as well as traditional Shaolin Kung Fu, Qi Gong and internal styles such as Bagua, Chen Style, Tai Chi and Xing Yi.
Wudang Hongdao Kung Fu School’s lineage comes from the Xuan Wu Sect of Daoism and is located near Zhong Guan Temple on Wudang Shan. Situated on the Mountain and with training taking place in and around the temple. The school offers a unique experience and the chance to study martial arts as well as study the healing arts of internal alchemy, qigong on herbal studies. Students should have some level of Chinese and knowledge of TCM to get the most out of their healing arts studies. Part of their studies will involve finding and identifying various mountain herbs for the Zhong Guan Temples daoist monks as well as learning about their uses.
Lion Muay Thai is Phuket’s fastest growing Muay Thai camp offering students an opportunity to learn a new martial art, get fit and have fun in the paradise island of Phuket. Nestled amongst lush greenery in an area called Rawai the camp offers seclusion without being too far away from the local amenities. Students who attend this school include seasoned fighters and beginners. This is because the gym caters to every need. As a result students may get a chance to train alongside or rub shoulders with world champion fighters who appear on international fight shows and work with some of the best trainers in Thailand.
The Kung fu School, China offers Sanda, Shaolin Kung fu and Taichi quan intensive martial arts training. All this is provided by an equally intensive master. Master Wang Xinglong is a 32nd generation disciple of the Shaolin Temple. At the age of 12, he joined the Shaolin Temple and studied traditional Shaolin martial arts under the 31st generation disciple, Master Shi DeQian. At the school students should expect to train 8 hours each day, five days per week. All skill levels are welcome at the school and each student gets personalised training where Master Wang Xinglong considers your skills, strengths weaknesses, preferences and goals. Progress is solely determined by the effort you put in and your ability to learn and practice the skills.
The Maling Shaolin Kung Fu Academy is located in Xingyi City in Norther Jiangsu Province. Headmaster Bao founded the school recently, having previously been training international students at other academies. He has set up a fantastic place to train and live, where students can learn 7 different styles of Chinese martial arts. The main style is of course, Shaolin Kung Fu, although you can also learn Baji Quan, Tai Chi, Xingyi, Qigong, Sanda (Chinese kickboxing) and Bagua.
Yangshuo Taichi School was the first registered International Taichi and Kung fu training School in Yangshuo. The school is located in a tranquil and truely stunning location a bike ride from Yangshou. The school headmaster, Master Huang is a National Taichi Champion who is enthusiastic and dedicated to teaching Taichi as a martial art, as a healing art and also a philosophy.
Qufu Shaolin Kung Fu School is a medium sized Shaolin Kung Fu school that has a freindly and welcoming feel. A perfect alternative to the often overly busy and inpersonal Shaolin Kung Fu Schools located in and around Dengfeng. This school is located on the outskirts of Qufu City, the birth place of Confucius and was founded in 2008 by 34th Generation Shaolin Warrior Monk Master Shi Yan Jia. Although the school is not located in and around Dengfeng it is one of only a few that have been given the seal of approval by the venerable Shi Yong Xin Head Abbot of the Songshan Shaolin Temple in Henan. This is a direct result of the Schools links to the Shaolin Temple’s Warrior Monk demonstration team.
Songshan Shaolin Traditional Wushu Academy is located inside the Original Shaolin Temple in Henan Province. The Shaolin Temple is was included in the UNESCO’s World Cultural and Natural Heritage List in 2010. And training at this school will uniquely allow you access to this amazing iconic cultural site. Indeed the training grounds of the school are located in areas where Temple monks train regularly.
The Yuntai Mountain International Culture and Martial Arts School was founded by Shi Yan Lin, a vastly experienced Shaolin Kung Fu master who teaches both Chinese and international students. The Martial Arts training at the school will primarily focus on the various Shaolin fists and weapons as well as Sanda and Taichi. In addition to the Martial Arts training the school also offers students the opportunity to study Chinese in combination with their martial arts training. The school itself is located in the famous Yuntai geological park, which attracts thousands of tourists every year. This area is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful place in Henan Province.
Zen Martial Training is located in Les Mamelles. The school offers authentic Chinese traditional martial arts with traditional Asian healing arts along with the combat sport of Taekwondo. The head instructor of the school has over 20 years of experinece in competitive martial arts and has lived and studied martial arts in China for over 6 years. The Head instructor of the school speaks, Chinese, English, Spanish & French and is certified as a Yue Jia Quan Master, has a 5th degree belt in Mantis Fist, 3rd Dan in Taekwondo and is certified in acupunture and herbalist.
Yesterday, Wednesday, was a rest day, as is Saturday. We bundled up in Sifu’s truck and drove north to Mae Hong Son close to Burma. We visited some hill tribe markets and two principal Temples, one in front of a small lake and another on a hill overlooking the town. The hill tribes women’s hand weaving is exceptional and they sell the most delicious wild honey by the side of road. One of the highlights of the day was when we picked up four Buddhist monks walking up the winding mountain road who piled in the truck with us. Not only is Sifu Iain extremely knowledgeable in Kung Fu and martial arts in general, he has also a deep knowledge and experience of the local area and its peoples. Thus, our journey was one through the historical, cultural and philosophical landscapes of the region. Being so close to Burma there is a very strong influence from the Shan people. Indeed, the whole area has been flooded with various ethnic groups, in particular hill tribes fleeing conflict in Burma. I finally had the current political situation in Thailand explained effectively over lunch by Sifu Iain and the day ended at the Temple on the Hill in Mae Hong Son, Wat Phra That Mae Yen. It is hard to describe how extraordinary are these temples. The view from the mountain top on which the temple sits was spectacular as the jungle stretched out below with its forested hills and mountains, limestone spires and the blazing sun setting behind.
Today we followed the same training schedule from 6 am to a little after 9 a.m., and 3:30 p.m. to about 6:15 p.m. Along with my extra 2 hours in the middle I also received a real Thai Massage. It was as much ordeal as it was massage but the lady hired for the massage was very good natured. She is a strong and gifted traditional massage therapist. She laughed at the noises I made with her elbows in my back and foot in my leg and told me to say, “Sooo, sooo!”. She tweaked my nose and invited me to the discotheque tonight in Pai but I told her I couldn’t go. I learned later from Sifu that men with big noses are considered extremely handsome in this part of Thailand; I’ve finally found somewhere that values my natural good looks and charm! We did a lot of Chi Kung, stretching and meditation today. We also continued with the Tigre-Crane Sum Chien and another sequence I have not yet described called Shuan Yang, which in English is called Sun Frost White Crane. Shuan Yang is a kind soft or gentle martial art that looks a lot like Tai Chi, but more martial. Indeed, some believe it to be the origins of Tai Chi. We did some great punching drills with the suspended sand filled cloth sacks and had a marvellously vigorous kicking session. Today on weapons I got to take up the actual bladed sabre, the Tan Dao or Chinese Broadsword. Wow, that was a gas training with sword in the open outdoor training ground my traditional black and gold Kung Fu pants billowing wet chest bared to northern Thailand’s blazing afternoon sun.
At tea Sifu spoke of the history of Nam Yang’s Tigre-Crane lineage. His Master’s Master, Master Ang, was the one I mentioned earlier who brought the art out of China and passed it eventually to Master Tan Soh Tin who then passed it to Iain Armstrong, the man I call Sifu. What an amazing history. Master Ang started Kung Fu as a boy and had three different masters. His first master was known as “the secretive old man” who introduced him to Tigre-Crane at 8 years old. His second master was an herbal medicine peddler who specialized in the Shaolin weapons system and Tiger form. The third was a Shaolin monk. I was amazed to learn that Master Ang eventually fought in Sun Yat-Sen’s army with the Koumintang, which was subsequently taken up by Chian Kai-Shek. As the Communists became victorious and began executing the Shaolin Kung Fu martial artists Master Ang emigrated to Singapore and later started Nam Yang in 1957. He ran the club until his death in the mid 1980s and the leadership passed to Master Tan who trained Sifu Iain. Iain now has schools here in Thailand, in the UK, in Russia and another about to open in Italy. It is very special to be a part of this lineage and I hope to bring home some foundational skills I can practice on my own. I’ve taken to playing flute under the stars while the others arrive to the outdoor training area for the morning session. Thus, I must sign off as 5 a.m. comes early!
by David Lertzman
David Lertzman Ph.D. is the Assistant Professor of Environmental Management and Sustainable Development PI: Energy Indigenous Environment Interface Research Program, Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary.
This blog entry is part of a series of blogs David Lertzman wrote for StudyMartialArts.Org detailing his experiences training at Nam Yang Shaolin Kung Fu Retreat. If you’re interested in visiting this school book your place here and get an exclusive discount Nam Yang Shaolin Kung Fu Retreat.