Shengjing Shan Kung Fu Academy – Review

圣经山

Learning kung fu in China with Master Qu

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

Learning kung fu in China

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

Facilities: Indoor and outdoor training areas.

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

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Gikan Ryu

by Fane Hervey – Ninjutsu London

The Gikan Ryu Koppojutsu is the most unknown of the arts within the Bujinkan and is often translated as ‘The School of Truth, Loyalty & Justice‘. Possibly the main reason for this is that the secret techniques were only handed down from one Soke to the next Soke, (this would often be from father to son). Gikan Ryu was founded during the Eiroku Era (1558 – 1570) by Uryu Hogan Gikanbo. He was the lord of present day Osaka (back then known as Kawachi no Kuni). His castle was known as Uryujo. He was considered a good leader and real warrior. He is seen as being an honorable martial artist who strove to keep Japan at peace. Gikanbo specialisied in Koppo Jutsu (bone breaking), Hicho Jutsu (jumping), and Senban Nage Jutsu (blade throwing). The styles of this era were normally known as: Kosshi Jutsu, Koppo Jutsu, or Daken Taijutsu.

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Gikanbo was heavily influenced by the Chinese style of Cho Gyokko’s line (Gyokko Ryu Koppojutsu) and the Ikai line. From the teachings of Gikanbo comes the saying: ‘Bufu Ni Sente Nashi (From this side will not come the first strike). This is from where he developed Gikan Ryu Koppojutsu.

Gikan Ryu koppojutsu contains secret kicks, punches and throws and rumour has it that Gikanbo developed a special punch that could snap a sword in two! Grades were awarded through the traditional Japanese menkyo system using scrolls for: Shoden Gata, Chuden Gata, Okuden Gata, Kaiden Gata, and others.

The 10th Soke of Gikan Ryu had the same name as its founder, Uryu Gikanbo. On August 17th, 1863 Gikanbo fought for the Emperor during the famous battle of Tenchu Gumi no Ran. He is said to have fought valiantly, since even after being wounded by a rifle shot, he continued to attack with his one good arm until he was overcome by numerous sword cuts from the enemy. However, he was not killed and sensibly managed to retreat, despite being injured to the point of exhaustion. He retired from the battle to behind a nearby temple. There he was discovered by an Iga warrior, called Ishitani Matsutaro, who himself was on his way to join the battle. Gikanbo convinced Ishitani that the battle would be lost and that he should not waste his life. Ishitani tended to Gikanbo’s wounds and took him to Iga to recover. Ishitani Matsutaro, already the Soke of Takagi Yoshin Ryu and Kukishin Ryu, was then repaid for his kindness by being taught the Gikan Ryu, becoming the 11th generation Soke.

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In the Meiji Era, when Ishitani was 61 he was given employment by the father of Takamatsu Sensei at his match factory. It was from here that Ishitani met and started teaching the young Takamatsu Sensei. Takamatsu Sensei later would receive from Ishitani the Grandmasterships of Takagi Yoshin Ryu, Kukishin Ryu, Gikan Ryu, and many others.
Takamatsu Sensei awarded the Gikan ryu to Akimoto Fumio who was his senior student. This was based through his family’s connection to the Gikan Ryu along with the Shoken Ryu of Daken Taijutsu. Unfortunately, his scrolls and densho were destroyed during the 2nd World War. Sadly, Akimoto passed away in 1962.

At this point, there are two different stories that are being told by the Genbukan and the Bujinkan.
Shoto Tanamura, the soke of the Genbukan, who was at one point a student of Hatsumi Sensei, claims to have inherited the Sokeship from Sato Kinbei who supposedly in January of 1963, was awarded the sokeship for Gikan Ryu Koppo Jutsu. As the story accounts, from this time on, any information concerning Gikan Ryu was held exclusively by Sato Kinbei Sensei in the various forms of knowledge, scrolls and texts. Kimbei Sensei for reason unknown chose to keep secret the heritage given to him by Takamatsu Sensei. Sato Kimbei is regarded by Genbukan Schools the 14th Soke of the Gikan Ryu. It was however proven in a Japanese court that Shoto Tanamura is the Soke of Gikan Ryu, and he has provided the scrolls to prove it.

Massaki Hatsumi’s story is less complicated – After Akimoto’s death the the Sokeship came back to Takamatsu who gave it to Hatsumi along other eight Ryus that all together were used to create the Bujinkan Budo Ninpo Taijutsu School. However, when asked he has not provided any scrolls to prove that this is the case. It may well be that there is more than one sokeship for the Gikan Ryu that has been given, none-the-less, it is almost completely unaccessible to the general public or even senior practitioners of the Bujinkan. The only real way to study the Gikan Ryu is through the Genbukan, where the scroll has been given to the public.

However, on 28th February 2015, I had the great fortune to attend a seminar on Shidenfudo Ryu Dakentaijutsu lead by Dr. Kacem Zoughari. Kacem had just recently been allowed access to a few scrolls and densho from Soke Masaaki Hatsumi’s personal library, and one of the scrolls that he brought to show us in the UK was a never before seen scroll of sword on sword techniques within the Gikan Ryu. What was particularly unique about this scroll was that as well as the kanji detailing the technique, the illustrations of various kamae were quite beautiful and very colourful. Most scrolls have no illustrations or few, and those that do are not often coloured. This was a very nice exception to that rule. It also proved that Soke Hatsumi does have quite a few scrolls that until now he has not shared with people, or at least only a trusted few. This scroll also detailed that one of the defining characteristics of the school is for the feet to be pointing in completely opposite directions, like a ballet stance, which alone makes any technique very difficult.

Ultimately though, the strong influence of the Gyokko Ryu upon the Gikan Ryu, means one can assume that the differences between the two are not very big. Therefore studying the Gyokko Ryu is probably as close as we will get within the bujinkan to understanding the essense of the Gikan Ryu.

To visit Fane Hervey’s site or read more of his writing’s on Ninjutsu visit – www.ninjutsulondon.com

 

Best Kung Fu School in China for Food

This is my list of the best kung fu schools in China for 2017. In this article I have chosen only the very best kung fu schools based on what they offer in terms of training, location, food and how well they cater to kids. Each year we will update this list based our school visits and student reviews.

Best for Food

Best Kung Fu Retreat for Food
Best Kung Fu Retreat for Food

To say that this Kung Fu School in China was only best for food would be an injustice. Kung Fu Zen Garden Retreat has so much more going for it. The retreat is on the outskirts of Beijing within in a beautiful traditional court yard. It offers not only excellent traditional Chinese food, but also zen meditation, calligraphy practice, lectures on Chinese martial culture and of course the ability to learn martial arts in a number of traditional styles.

The food at the school is locally sourced, and lovingly prepared to suit all tastes and diets.

To find out which school I recommend for Best Location, Best for Kids and Best for Food. Click here. Learn Kung fu in China with StudyMartialArts.Org

To learn kung fu in China or learn more about any of these schools. Visit the StudyMartialArts.Org website or email us direct at info@studymartialarts.org

 

Enrich the body and soul by learning kung fu in China

气功

by Nathan Williams

An experience to enrich the body and soul. The Academy is a great place to live and to learn; the masters are very supportive and the students are like family to me – it feels like a community of like minded people all pulling in the same direction. The location: the Shengjing Shan mountain is breathtakingly beautiful – the many temples and trails and walkways are very serene and tranquil. The surrounding towns can be difficult to navigate around so best to learn from fellow students but you’ll soon find your way around.

Learning a moderate amount of Chinese would be preferably before coming to China because hardly anyone speaks English. There aren’t any Chinese classes at the Academy but it shouldn’t stop you from learning – you’re in China! With language books and language apps you will be able to learn, it just takes time and discipline (luckily you’ll find both here at the academy). Don’t expect to learn in a classroom environment.

I found the accommodation satisfactory and as expected in rural china – you’re staying in a kung fu school, not a hostel. The food is good and again, you’re staying in a kung fu school, not dining out at a restaurant each night. Although there are some authentic Chinese restaurants nearby for special occasions.

Tips: bring cash with you and make sure you can draw money out of your debit/credit card as it can be tricky in China. If you have a problem, it will be difficult to go to a bank and find someone who speaks English. Download a VPN for your phone/laptop so you can access western sites and social media apps, if not, you may find speaking with family and friends back home to be quite difficult. It’s also good to have a hobby outside of training, some learn Chinese, some are working on their own books, some cook, some learn instruments, some just chill and watch movies, some do all of the above. It’s had a profoundly positive affect on me mentally and physically and I am mentally much stronger and more resilient.

“Nathan visited Shengjing Shan Kung Fu Academy for his experience. Others may go else where. Wherever you go whatever you choose to learn. For the majority that decide to learn kung fu in China it is life changing and a positive experience they never forget. For my part I feel blessed not only in helping people find the right school but get the most out of the experience. For the schools it is always my pleasure to send them quality students.” – David Kelly – StudyMartialArts.Org

An Family Kung Fu School Review

Part of my job at StudyMartialArts.Org involves visiting and reviewing martial arts schools. I take this responsibility very seriously. Only by actually visiting the schools and taking part in the training can I genuinely say I know the schools, masters and the training. This means that each year, I pack my bag and set of to visit both new schools and revisit existing schools. This weekend I visited my friend Shifu An Jian Qiu in Dezhou at his new school.

Setting off early Saturday morning I boarded the fast train to Dezhou from Beijing south railway station. The journey to Dezhou along the Jinghu High-Speed Railway that links Beijing to Shanghai takes 1.5 hours. Trains on the Jinghu High-Speed Railway line travel up to 300km per hour so be-careful not to miss your stop!

This was my third visit to Dezhou. The first was in the summer and the second in winter during Chinese new year. The last time I’d been to the school was almost two years ago so I was excited to see the new school and the progress he’d made.  An Jian Qiu runs and manages a traditional family kung fu school steeped in hundreds of years family tradition and history. There are very few martial arts schools remaining like this in China that are as easily accessible to western students. His school offers full-time and part-time classes to both Chinese and International students. International students attending the school are primarily taught by An Jian Qiu or his father. An Shifu’s school caters to both short and long term students providing accommodation and food on site. All-inclusive training package range from 6700 rmb per month on a sliding scale depending on how long your stay.

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An inside scoop that I’ve brought  back for our readers is that Jian Qiu is planning to offer intensive and training camps in Xingyi and Bajiquan next year for instructors and experienced martial arts students. These are likely to be scheduled at either end of the summer.  A two week Xingyi quan training camp around June-July and a month long Bajiquan training camp during August. For further information you can email me david@studymartialarts.org – The sooner I hear from you the better the early bird discount I’ll be able to secure for you. Another interesting opportunity discussed over the weekend with Master An were his plans to accept an experienced trainee instructor(s) who would be willing to commit 1+ years, and become one of his long term disciples.  If accepted you would be expected to help him teach and manage his school in exchange for free accommodation, tuition and food.

Over the coming month I will be helping Jian Qiu with these plans and assist him in his search to find a disciple(s) and trainee instructor(s) so stay tuned or email me for further information.

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A warm Dezhou welcome (Sharing a meal with An Shifu, two of his students and a number of representatives from Dezhou martial arts community).

Kung Fu in Thailand Day 3: A Day of Rest

Greetings everyone,

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.
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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.

IMG_0856At 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.