My martial arts journey began in 1969 at the first classes of the Tomiki aikido style in Melbourne, Australia, under the guidance of (then) Leoni Heap. I was a drifter at the time, doing unskilled work in order to finance my travels in Australia and overseas. I was playing several contact sports at the time and Aikido was a fitness adjunct for me. Eventually, against my better judgement, I was persuaded to attempt my shodan grading. I had coached junior sports during my youth and suspected that I would be requested to teach when I made shodan, so I had resisted for nearly a decade.
Sure enough when I received my grading and whilst making preparations to travel to South America, I was asked to go to Sydney to fill in for a teacher who was relocating. Not being particularly stable at the time, I accepted and through that decision was able to meet and learn from the first person to teach Shindo Muso ryu jyodo (way of the stick) in Australia, Paul Maloney sensei.
I was ready to depart for South America after a couple of years in Sydney, when the Falklands war broke out and I was advised it was an inopportune time to visit South America. Step up Paul Maloney, who suggested a trip to Japan instead. As he had not long returned from Asia himself and was full of praise for the culture and fighting arts, I quickly agreed.
Through Paul and his contacts, I obtained various introductions to Jyodo and Aikido dojos,where I trained under such notables as Kaminoda Tsunemori (SMR jyo), Ohba Hideo (Tomiki aikido), Nitta Suzuo (Toda ha Buko ryu naginata jutsu) and long-time Japan resident Phil Relnick (SMR). Through the introduction of the principal of my Japanese language school, I commenced my third style of karate and Taijichuan, with Nakano Harumi sensei, a well-known teacher in Japan and China. I studied with her for the best part of 8 or 9 years and, through her, was introduced to various teachers, including Matsuda Ryuichi who taught me Xingyi chuan, Bagua zhang and Shaolin chuan. We were also regularly exposed to teachers from the Chen jia gou (Chen village) in their annual visits to Tokyo.
In 1989, I was introduced by friends to Nitta Suzuo shihan of the Toda ha Buko ryu naginata jutsu school, which I have also studied since that time.
When it was time (a regular occurrence for foreigners) to leave the country to renew my visa, Nakano sensei suggested the Chen village for further training. Most foreigners either went home to renew their visa or went to Korea for a few days, but I wanted something more.
I wanted to continue Xingyi and Bagua as well as Taiji, so we decided on Shanghai, instead of the village and Nakano sensei gave me introductions to her friend Mr. Chu Jin Ming, who was then the vice president of the Shanghai Chin Woo athletic society and 2IC of the Shanghai Olympic Hotel, which at the time was the safest place for foreigners to meet Chinese without the obligatory “spies” getting their knickers in a knot. Remember, this was 1987, shortly before Tiananmen
Mr. Chu introduced me to He Bing Quan who introduced me to Wang Zhong Dao. Master He had trained with Chen Zhao Kui when they lived together in Shanghai. He was a Shaolin master who had trained in several styles of Taijichuan under the old masters.
Master Wang had trained under Master Chu Gui Ting, a student of the famous Li Tsun Yi and taught me his version of Xingyi and Bagua – which differed slightly from Matsuda sensei’s version (which he learnt in Taiw
an). When Master Wang died, I continued under Master Chen Jian Yun who had studied Shansi style Xingyi as well as learning from Master Chu. When he died, I was left rudderless, to continue on my own.
Then, in 2018, I was lucky enough to find Mr. David Kelly at studymartialarts.org who provides a wonderful introduction service for practitioners seeking training in Chinese chuan fa. Whilst scrolling through his pages, I happened to come across a reference to Master Chu Yu Cheng. Further research showed that he was the grandson of Chu Gui Ting – fancy that, his other students (my teachers) never mentioned he had a grandson!
David quickly arranged for us to get together and I went to Shanghai for the first time in 15 years to resume my true lineage. I found Master Chu to be extremely knowledgeable and up to date. Lest I be considered to be a poor follower of my previous teachers, they were getting on in years and had possibly forgotten some of the deeper work. No such problem with Master Chu – in the space of a month, he was able to upskill me, even after 30 plus years of training in the art under various Masters.
Unfortunately, it was a test run for me and I had let my Chinese skills lapse, which made it hard for Master Chu, but he never failed to teach from his heart and luckily enough I had enough experience to bumble through. In order to honour him and his compassionate students, I am frantically trying to rejuvenate my language skills before my next visit.
If there is one theme you will notice through this narrative about Asian combatives it is INTRODUCTIONS – they are essential in Asia (for locals and foreigners) and you won’t find a more generous spirit with the necessary contacts than David Kelly.
Here in Germany most of the kids do an Au pair year or go to Australia for Work & Travel or just take a break for one year at home to find out what they want to study after it. From my school a lot of my classmates go directly to university because that is the way it is supposed to be if you attended the ‘Gymnasium’ (the version of high school that only lasts twelve years of school and is commonly described as the most difficult one) – according to teachers and principals.
“What are you going to do after your abitur?”
I must have heard that question about a thousand times. My response almost comes naturally:
Some people gave me a polite laugh and then asked again: “No really, what are you going to do? Which university will you go to?”, others just raised their eyebrows and didn’t ask any further. I think that a lot of people thought it was just a phase I was going through. Last week a friend came to me and asked me if I still wanted to go to Asia. Yes, I booked my flight month ago, yes I do this voluntarily: I want to train the whole day six times a week. Yes, I am a 18 year old girl and yes I do Taekwondo and am really passionate about martial arts. But I am not annoyed. I love to talk about it and I don’t mind explaining every last detail my research came up with to anybody. I know that this is what I want to do after school, what I want to do now.
I am really lucky that my family supports me and my decisions. Almost one year ago I spend weeks researching on the internet for a programme that would allow me to study Kung Fu. The idea came right after I spend my summer break in Korea at the Sehan University with my Taekwondo-Team. I have never been that exhausted in my life. Three training sessions a day (at least) and rice everyday to lunch and dinner. And I loved it.
I decided to try a different style of martial arts and chose Kung Fu. A really easy decision
since I have been dreaming about becoming a Teen-Shaolin-Monk since I was a kid and got obsessed with the ‘Five Ancestors’– book saga by Jeff Stone. I am currently on the last metaphorical meters to finishing my last 3 exams before high school is over and somehow I still find the time to write this article/blogpost and enjoying my
time. I am even enjoying studying. Because I understood and still learn to understand every single day that I live in the present and that I can determine it. So why not take a chance and go to China ;).
At this point I would like to add that I am really thankful for the help and support with my plans which I got and still get from the website www.studymartialarts.org and it’s operator David Kelly. I can’t imagine how my individual experience will be and how I am going to change. I will probably laugh about the things I imagine now at the time I am there but I do it anyway. This blog is as much for me as it is for everyone interested in the topic for various reasons. If I can make my future self laugh or paint a smile on her face I already achieved something with it.
Carmen Isabella – Studies martial arts in China. She recently graduated from high school and did Taekwondo in her home country Germany which already led her to Korea last summer. Her interest in martial arts in general will lead her this summer to China where she plans to study Kung Fu for 6 month. As one of her other passions is writing she wants to share her future experiences with detailed reports about her journey to help and give tips to other travellers and especially women who are interested in martial arts. To learn more about Carmen’s journey click here.
This short post is dedicated to Master Si Jun Tao. Who in the video clip performs Wudang Taiji 24 Step. This summer I trained with him on Wudang Shan, and brought a group of students to learn both qigong, taichi at his school.
The school is uniquely located just 3.4 kilometres from the Golden Top. Staying at his school is a unique experience. You’ll be welcomed as one of the family and treated to expert taichi tuition followed by traditional Chinese tea.
Master Si Jun Tao’s daoist name is Li Jing and his lineage is of the Xuan Wu Sect of Daoism. Master Si Jun Tao has won a number of competitions for his Martial Arts. In the Shenzhen 5th wushu competition he received a gold medal for his fist and sword forms. In the Shenzhen 1st traditional martial arts boxing competition he received a gold medal for his staff form and in the traditional martial arts competition he won the 65kg Sanda title in 2007. Master Si Jun Tao focuses on helping his students reach their training goals. Master Si has a very pleasant nature and is currently in his mid thirties and is both energetic and enthusiastic about teaching his students.
Here’s a short video explaining why if you want to study martial arts in China you should book through www.StudyMartialArts.Org
If you book your place before the end of June 2018 you’ll get 5% off your training, accommodation and food. Other exclusive offers can be found on the website’s current promotions for kung fu schools in China.
StudyMartialArts.Org offer – Martial Arts Training and Travel experiences in China and Thailand. With one point of contact and independent information as well as support its not just a booking platform but much more. Contact them now for further information.
Wujiquan (Chinese (無極拳): Pinyin: Wujiquan; Wade-Giles: Wu Chi Chuan): ‘Ultimate Void Boxing’: Is a rare and Secret Ultimate Void Boxing Skill, and is said to be the Mother Art of Taijiquan; from Wuji comes Tai-ji. The Wujiquan System is composed of 36 ‘Characters’: 18 kinds of natural climatic phenomena, and 18 of Qi applications.
One of the rarest of traditional Shaolin Boxing systems, Wujiquan is also one of the purest of traditional Chinese soft-internal boxing systems(Neijia): being taught to very few in its entirety and only after years of rigorous training and testing for aptitude; it never became widely known, which meant that unlike the better known, Taijiquan, there was no opportunity for the system to undergo the experimentation and mixing with other systems and arts which during recent centuries led to the variety of styles which characterize Taijiquan.
Wu Ji boxing comes from the “Yi Jing” or ”Book of Changes”. Taiji is born from the state of Wu Ji (complete nothingness, or complete harmony with the universe). Yin Yang, or a single continuous line running from one point across to another, is born from the state of Taiji (Taiji gives rise to Yin Yang). A single line stretching between 2 points gives rise to a surface area or square (Yin Yang gives rise to 4 directions or surface area). A surface area or square gives rise to 8 trigrams or a 3 dimensional cube (4 directions give rise to 8 trigrams or 8 directions).
“Wuji quan” is the martial applications and techniques handed down from Wu’s ancestors.
The Wuji quan curriculum
After students are trained in the elementary level of Wu Ji, two disciplines become the focus, one of which is called Hun Yuan and the other is called Ba Gua Zhang.
The training system incorporates:
Wu Ji Health Exercise System.
Wu Ji Standing Postures
Wu Ji 12 single movement training
Wu Ji leg and root training
Hun Yuan Discipline ↓ Ba Gua Discipline
Wu Ji’s 18 rules
Hun Yuan Palm (1) Wu Ji internal strength secret Ba Gua Palm’s Upper body work/ upper body energy
Hun Yuan Palm (2) Wu Ji medical knowledge skills Ba Gua Palm’s Root and leg work/ root and leg energy
Hun Yuan Palm (3) Wu Ji Dim Mak or acupoint striking Ba Gua Palm’s 9 cross- pattern footwork
Hun Yuan Palm (4) Ba Gua Palm’s Spirit and energy training
Wu Ji’s methods of diet and nutrition
Soft silk palm technique
Cloud hands palm
Silk pulling palm technique
Explosive palm technique
Wu Ji elementary level
The middle-aged and the elderly can also practice the Wu Ji’s Health Exercise System and Wu Ji’s 6 essential guiding principles.
Wu Ji’s five-animal boxing forms (Wu Qin Xi) including:
Head rotations, Crane drinking, Wolf observes all directions, Hen sleeps and Ape reflexes.
Wu Ji’s 32 body building boxing: in addition to the 5 aforementioned animal forms, it also includes: Opening the trunk energy and internal splitting energy.
Wu Ji Standing Postures (for juveniles)
Leg and root training and energy/power training (for juveniles)
Wu Ji intermediate level
According to one’s body condition, there are two disciplines. The Ba Gua discipline is for those who don’t have high blood pressure, and includes:
Upper body work/ upper body energy work
Root and leg work/ root and leg energy work, 9 cross-pattern footwork and Spirit and energy training (more information can be found in the form treatise).
The Hun Yuan discipline’s foundations are based on internal energy. The first set of Hun Yuan Palm, the second set, the third and the fourth can be found in the form treatise.
Internal applications and techniques
Internal secrets: internal elementary training methods.
Dim Mak or acupoint striking (please refer to the Form treatise).
Medical knowledge skills:
Martial artists should be aware of proper diet and nutrition and watch what they eat and what their meals are composed of. Internal applications and techniques are practiced by both schools – Hun Yuan and Ba Gua.
Wu Ji’s 18 rules are the main applications and techniques of Wu Ji’s internal skills. Internal skills can also improve the practitioners’ external skills.
In the beginning, people can work on their internal power by means of external exercises. When they get to a certain stage with their internal energy work, they should then focus on working on their internal skills and energy to improve their external skills.
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.
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 email@example.com – 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.
After my last fight for the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) in 2010, I didn’t know whether I was going to fight again, so I was afforded the luxury of easing off the punishing training regimen that having an upcoming fight forces you to endure, and instead I could focus on training purely for the love of it once again. I found myself drawn to Tai Chi and immediately began noticing all the imbalances in my body, and it took about two years to undo most of the significant damage I had caused to myself from years of sparring and pushing myself to the limits in training.
The beauty and depth of the internal arts
Once I’d realized the efficiency, beauty and depth of the internal martial arts, I was 100% committed to its mastery. Having a somewhat obsessive-compulsive personality when it comes to doing what I love, I immediately devoured all the texts and videos on the subject matter and began my travels to learn from various masters around the world. I took three years off from sparring, and instead focused on moving as slowly and smoothly as possible. It was both a beautiful and humbling experience to feel like a complete beginner again, and this helped me realize that, more than anything, it is the learning that I enjoy. I love a challenge, and when I read claims that Tai Chi Ch’uan takes 10 to 20 years to master, my imagination was instantly captured and I knew what my future had in store for me. I had to completely “empty my cup”, detaching from my previous training methods, which is no easy task! As my brain was attempting to rewire itself to learn this new language, most of my old habits were actually in direct contrast to what I needed to be doing in order to evolve further in this new direction. The concept of doing less to achieve more is certainly a tricky one for Westerners to wrap their heads around!
And now today, when I try to pass on what I have learned to my friends in the MMA community, I encounter two common scenarios. The first is the confused look as I try to explain a concept which is too alien to their current way of thinking, one that does not harmonize with – indeed, even threatens – their limiting beliefs, or the way they see the “sport” of martial arts. The other is simply an inability or unwillingness to “start over,” to throw away the old to make way for the new, even if they can see the value. People too often feel that they have invested so much energy for so many years that they would be doing themselves a disservice by starting anew. As I see it, our attachments can become our downfalls, and adaptation is the key to longevity and harmony.
After years of study on everything from nutrition to philosophy, anatomy to alternative health systems, as well as the classic texts on war and peace, every aspect of my training has shifted dramatically from what it once was. A significant moment came when I felt I was no longer just following what everyone else was doing, or what my coaches were telling me to do. I was coming from a place where I could draw on my own experience and research – and, more importantly, I was following my intuition.
Over the last three years, my main training partner has been my son Shen, who is now three. Becoming a father forces you to adapt in so many ways, and in order to fit the daily amount of training hours in, one is required to make changes both to lifestyle as well as the type of training. Motivations change too. Now I am inspired to lead by example and I have to be more consistent and thoughtful with my approach. Shen is of the age now where he can spot anomalies and he loves nothing more than to ask, “Why, Dad….?”
Four ounces to move a thousand
Tai Chi Ch’uan talks of using four ounces to move a thousand pounds, so when I wrestle my son, it’s not a case of the strong and experienced versus the weak and unaware. Instead, I make it so I literally use as little effort as I can, and would have to say that he becomes the stronger of the two of us. I constantly play around with his balance, trying to affect it so subtly that he is unable to grasp what is the cause of his instability.
Taichi principles in training and life
From my many years studying ground fighting, I am well-versed in the best offensive and defensive techniques; but I have yet to teach any to Shen. Instead, I just put some weight on him, pinning him to the ground or against something upright, and ask him if he can get out. Then I let him try and wiggle and squirm his way free using movement and the principle of finding space. Sometimes he says he is stuck and I give him a pointer on which part of the body he should move to free himself up. He has become blocked, limiting his own movement through lack of awareness. We all do it, becoming attached to one way of thinking; and when that doesn’t serve us, if our vision has become too narrowed, then we are unable to come up with any new, creative ideas because we are drawing from memory instead of feeling in the present.
A Karate friend of mine recently asked Shen to punch his hand and was surprised that I hadn’t taught him “correct technique” yet. But that will come later, and it will come easily and quickly once he knows how to move correctly and has cultivated a mind which stays open to assimilating new information. Besides, I don’t really want my three year old knowing how to punch just yet!
Shen’s favorite film is The Jungle Book, and there’s nothing more he likes doing than climbing on me. Even my 10-month-old has started joining in, crawling as fast as he can across the room to get in on the action. We mimic animal movement, moving primally across the floor like gorillas, monkeys, snakes, bears…
Aside from our training together, just observing how a baby navigates this world is enlightening for those of us obsessed with movement. From the first few months when you can feel the strength of their grip and how all limb movements originate from the dantien, to when they begin to perform deep squats and exhibit perfect posture. Getting to feel true softness, noticing how their pliant muscles can move freely around the bone, and realizing what is actual full-joint mobility.
It can be an awakening experience knowing that we all once moved like that, and somewhere along the line we picked up some bad habits, and are continually paying the price for it as we age and strive to unlearn, simplify, return to our youthful ways.
When I was a boy, my friends and I would regularly dare each other on, challenging one another, pushing our boundaries in the quest for new experiences and overcoming fears. I find myself continuing that tradition with my son. When we come across some cold water and I ask Shen if he wants to go in, I’m really asking myself if I want to go in. Without him there, I may not always verbalize the idea, which brings it one step closer to reality. Like all good training partners, you find ways of fitting more training into the day and bond through the shared experiences.
I am a believer in the saying, “Do one thing a day that you are scared of.” It is an excellent way to prevent the mind from calcifying. When the mind begins to set, this is a sure way of letting fear creep in, and it only needs one foot in the door. The mind is like a parachute – only useful when open!
When carrying Shen on my shoulders, it forces me to adopt more and more efficient posture. With him constantly growing a little heavier, it reminds me of the old story of Qing-Gong training when one jumps out of a hole every day and each day the hole gets made 1cm deeper.
When he climbs on my arms as I am sitting, my structure is tested and I strive to apply all the principles that Zhan Zhuang practice cultivates – keeping the shoulders down, elbows heavy and spine tall.
But most of all my son helps me develop PATIENCE! An integral component to successfully training internal martial arts, it is something we could all have more of – the ability to not get frustrated and to continually adapt to our ever-changing circumstances. Having kids has forced me to reassess how I spend my time each day, and trim off the unnecessary. Time is more precious, and sleep, food and even breathing has to be respected even more due to their significant contributions to my energy levels. When you start your day with breathing exercises in the morning, it forces you to become more aware of your environment, more in the present, and has the ability to make you consider how you will spend the rest of the day a little more carefully. As the saying goes, “The yi leads the qi.”
The chances of the average MMA student today incorporating standing practice into their daily routine? Slim to none, and Slim just left town! The current MMA fighter wants quick results, and there is the prevailing dogma that if they haven’t finished the day exhausted and beat up, then they haven’t trained properly. There is also the irony of being partly motivated to rush through the stages of training in order to hit the “big time” in their twenties, believing that they will be “past it” by their mid-thirties, not realizing that it is this very mindset that will cause the damage to their bodies (and brains) that unfortunately force so many of them into early retirement. With often irreparable knee, spine, and shoulder injuries to name a few, it is a sad situation when professional athletes cannot even nurture their health into their forties.
Maintaining a neutral state
Nowadays, it is a rarity when I feel sore, and I enjoy the process of returning my body to a balanced, neutral state as soon as possible afterwards. This enjoyable process of putting a little wear and tear into the body before healing ourselves can be likened to the tempering of steel, where thousands of oscillations between hard and soft alchemically transcend us to a new way of being. There are no shortcuts for the sword that is destined to become great; it must be willing to endure and persist. It must also love its journey, and believe in its destiny.
Another lesson MMA fighters would do well to learn is to tone down their competitive natures for partner drills, and increase their sensitivity. They are like a fighter-plane locked onto a target with one objective: seek and destroy. This extremely yang approach doesn’t lend itself well to being aware of what the opponent is intending, limiting the amount of information one can garner through touch and even sight. A simple grounding drill where one applies pressure slowly and steadily to their partner becomes a great challenge for the MMA adept, as they are not used to toning down their force and learning to vary it in such small increments.
One of my goals is to help spread the internal martial arts into MMA, not just because I believe the current standard of fighting on display is well below where it will be a few years down the line (the sport is still relatively young – the first UFC was in 1993), but I am also highly motivated to spread the health benefits to my fighting brothers and sisters. For this to be achieved, I am regularly reminded of just how much I will need to continue learning from Shifu Shen’s main lesson – the art of patience!
About Nick Osipczak:
Nick Osipczak began Hung Kuen at age 18 and six years later was competing for the world’s largest fighting organization – the UFC. No opponent could finish Nick in any of his 18 career fights. For 5 years he ran a martial arts club in London where at one stage his students amassed a 22–0 record in professional MMA bouts. Now specializing in Tai Chi Ch’uan, Nick passes on his knowledge and experience through seminars and intensive workshops.
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:
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
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.
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.)
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.
Today there are so many fitness trackers available for you to choose from various bands, watches and apps. All these gadgets are equipped with accelerometers and sensors to track you all day (and night) long. But do they really work or are they just a gimmick? Here are 3 reasons why if used correctly they can help you become fitter and healthier.
1. You can see your fitness goals: It’s one thing to have a sense of how healthy you are, but it’s another thing to see the numbers. Many fitness trackers can record your steps, calories burned, and sleep, so if you’re not meeting your goals in one or more of those categories, you’ll be able to see it in no time. Fitness trackers force you to be aware of your fitness shortcomings so you can modify habits as necessary.
2. You can track your progress: Investing in a fitness tracker forces you to think about what you’d like to get out of your workout routine. Many trackers allow you to add goals — like steps per day or calories burned — so you can keep tabs on whether or not you are progressing. It’s nice to have numbers backing up just how much more fit and active you’ve been feeling and to use as a basis for future goals.
3. You can push yourself safely: Listening to your body is the best way to know your limits, but having extra help doesn’t hurt. Many fitness trackers compile the data they collect from your daily habits to show you trends over time. That means that if you find that you’re being too sedentary on your non-workout days or that you aren’t burning as many calories as you thought in yoga class, you’ll be armed with the information you need to modify your workout routine or your daily activity habits.
Source: Instagram User supertall007
The Fitbit Surge is a sophisticated touch-screen wristwatch. It not only tracks your steps and sleep, but also alerts you to incoming phone calls and text messages, keeps tabs on your heart rate with a built-in optical heart rate monitor, uses GPS to track outdoor activity, and has much more functionality especially for runners.
Continuous heart rate monitoring. Built-in GPS. Comfortable, secure fit. Tracks new activities like hiking, yoga, and weight-lifting workouts. Excellent app and easy syncing. Supports incoming texts and call notifications. Accurate.
Limited push notifications. Moderately large. Not waterproof for swimming. Below average battery life with GPS enabled. Charger not interchangeable with other Fitbits.
With continuous heart rate monitoring, GPS, and broad appeal, the Fitbit Surge is the best all-day fitness tracker to date.
The Garmin Forerunner series blends the best fitness trackers with all the features you expect from running watches. Additionally it offers a 24/7 activity and sleep tracker with continuous heart rate monitoring, GPS, push notifications, and special features for triathletes. It’s not cheap but it manages to be both lightweight and excellent battery life. If you’re a hardcore martial artist who love to compete in triathlons this is the one for you.
Excellent for triathletes. GPS. Optical heart rate monitor. Tracks steps, sleep, heart rate, and an array of activities. Supports push notifications. Waterproof. Lightweight. Top-notch battery life.
Expensive. Not comfortable to wear while sleeping. More sporty than elegant.
The Garmin Forerunner 735XT fitness tracker gives pertinent information to triathletes about their sports, including advice you don’t often see, like recovery time. It’s comprehensive and easy to use but will set you back a pretty penny.
Best for those on a budget and now available outside of China, the Mi Band Pulse is cheap and cheerful, yet somehow manages to pack heart rate monitoring onto the wrist for an astonishing price. Xiaomi has shifted over a million of its bands in China alone, possibly making this the ultimate fitness tracker. On a down side the main body of the tracker does of a tendency to fall out if you are too rough with it. So don’t keep it on when doing pad work. Another down side is that it will does have a tendency to over estimate your steps in most cases.
Is one of the best for getting fit. Geared towards helping you be better at the sports you love, rather than reporting how you did. It’s an easy and compelling sell, and for our money, is what wearable tech should be about. Some of the misgivings remain: the need to carry your smartphone being the biggest downside to the device.
Earn money for charities every time you run, walk, or bicycle by using the free Charity Miles app. Corporate sponsors (whose information you’ll see as a backdrop image in the app) agree to donate a few cents for every mile you complete. Browse the app’s list of charities, find the one that you support, and then hit the road. When a lot of people use Charity Miles, those little bits of money add up.
Using this app you can rack up some serious miles. With this app you can get fit while donating to some excellent charities. The new UI is very clean and visually appealing. Both the GPS and indoor tracking are for the most part reliable. On the downside view the history can be annoying. The activity log looks nice and is easy to navigate but needs to also have the ability to see the length of time each run was.
FitStar creates custom workouts for you based on your fitness level. You start by doing a few workouts with the app and you give it feedback as you go about which exercises were too tough, too easy, or just right. The app uses that information to create a routine that challenges you in all the right ways. FitStar was purchased by Fitbit in 2015 and now works with some Fitbit devices. The in-app coach is former NFL player Tony Gonzalez, a beefy workout buddy who is nothing but a bundle of positive, cheery feedback, and absolutely no excuses.
It is customize to you and after each workout you should feel like you’ve accomplished something. The great thing is it sync with your Fitbit (Fitbit actually recommend this app). You get free sessions but for premium its a steal instead of going to the gym and probably having to pay twice as much. With this app and eating right you will lose weight in no time.
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.