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Wushu Whiteboy Studying Shaolin, Sanda, and Mantis Kung Fu in China

Kung Fu in China: Nearing the End

CHINA | Friday, 25 July 2014 | Views [1098] | Comments [5]

When I first arrived at the temple, I was feeling like I lacked direction. For eight months, I had studied Mantis kung fu at Kunyu Shan. When Qu Sifu left, I went over to Xu Shifu, where I was introduced to some Shaolin basics. After I learned these basics, Xu Shifu began teaching me rope dart at my request. Although Juan from Mexico did teach me some basics with rope dart last year, I neglected practicing it throughout the winter, so I was pretty much starting over, and I was only able to practice rope dart for two weeks before leaving for Henan. Here, I initially spent most of my time reviewing Mantis forms and Shaolin basics, with Shifu coaching me to improve my Mantis techniques. Shifu Yan Jun is familiar with Mei Hua Fist and Shaolin Mantis - he is a 17th generation Mei Hua Master in addition to a 34th generation Shaolin warrior monk - but he is not familiar with Mei Hua Mantis, although his input was valuable in improving my Mantis forms. He is also unfamiliar with the rope dart. I'm much less interested in Shaolin Mantis than I was in Mei Hua Mantis, but I felt that I needed to pick a style to focus on to feel like I had a direction in my training. After some rumination, I concluded that Mantis and Snake would be very complementary, so I told Shifu that I was interested in learning Snake. I enjoyed learning the form at first, but then lost all interest in the form when we came to a part in which one basically does the breakdancing worm movement. I chose to study kung fu more for fitness and art than for fighting, but I have to feel that there is some realistic application in order to take the form at all seriously. Abandoning Snake, I then joined a couple of advanced students in learning a Dragon form, which seemed pretty intense at first, but then it came to a move in which we spread our arms out and take a few steps in a semi-circle, looking much like a child's attempt to emulate an airplane. I've been impressed with the Tiger form he teaches, but at this point, with only two more weeks remaining, it is not realistic for me to begin learning another Shaolin animal form, so I will just continue to practice the forms that I already know, having no interest in continuing with the Snake or Dragon forms. An advanced Wing Chun student here has also been teaching me a Wing chun dummy form, having already taught me Wing chun basics, and I do like the Shaolin Hua Gun form. The latter is short, however, and I finished it weeks ago, so the final two weeks feel more like I'm just waiting to leave.

The training here is good, but less intense than at Kunyu Shan. On the upside, my agility has improved quite a bit over the past few weeks due to the more systematic approach Shifu has to the weekly acrobatics class. Also, Shifu is really good about allowing students to focus on their primary interests of Forms, Sanda, or Tai Chi. I do all three, but as my primary focus is on forms, I do less Sanda here than I did at Kunyu Shan.

Every Friday, we ascend the stairs up the mountain to Damo cave and beyond to a 12 meter high Buddha statue atop the mountain's peak, this being over 1200 stairs. We go up and down these stairs three times, so we're climbing well over 3000 stairs.

The group has doubled in size since I arrived; we are now up to 20 students, so Shifu brought his brother in to help train.

One rainy morning in June, Shifu asked us if we would like to watch a kung fu movie in lieu of that morning's training. Of course, everyone said yes, so we gathered what movies we had available on our computers and the majority chose The Man With The Iron Fists. Shifu started watching it with us, and during the first fight scene he pointed to the screen and exclaimed, "Tai Chi!" After about a half hour into the movie, however, he left to go do something else while the rest of us continued watching the movie. I suspect that his departure was because he didn't know what was going on in the movie as he speaks little English.

We also formed up a half an hour earlier one morning so that we could observe the Shaolin temple monks performing their morning prayers and chants. It was about an hour long.

On a whim, I asked Shifu yesterday if I could run to Deng Feng in lieu of the normal afternoon training. Deng Feng is where many students go on Saturday to shop and eat, and we normally take a bus there as it is 16km away. My plan was to run there and then take the bus back. When I reached Deng Feng, I ran to the Bank of China near the bus stop as it is a familiar landmark for me and I wanted to make sure I was well into Deng Feng, but I then had a Forrest Gump moment and just continued to run back to the temple. I kept a steady pace and ran non-stop from the temple entrance gate to Deng Feng and back, totaling 32km/20miles, so I almost accidentally ran a marathon. It took me 2 hours and 40 minutes. I have never run that kind of distance before, and Feiyues are very poor running shoes, so I'm feeling it my legs and feet today. Still, I'm glad that I did it. I need the occasional overachievement to feel like I'm compensating for the times that I feel lazy.

I have two more weeks left in China, after which I will be flying to Japan for a week, and I will then return to the U.S.

Planking while being lifted up and down

Planking while being lifted up and down

Tags: china, martial arts



i feared you were dead and they were just sending out pics once in awhile on facebook to continue the ruse.
have fun in japan !!!

  jaros Jul 27, 2014 8:53 AM


I still think you are crazy... but look forward to having you back in the good old USA! Fantastic job Korric! Will we be having a reunion dinner at Goten?? I certainly hope so!!!

  Christina Jul 30, 2014 5:14 AM


reunion at Goten is a must!

  sheperd Jul 30, 2014 6:39 AM


Thank you Korric for posting your experiences. I read all of it and it was both enjoyable and informative! Very encouraging to see the transformation possible. Hope you're keeping it up! Best wishes

  Pei May 14, 2016 4:50 PM


Hi Korric, I hope you are doing well back home my friend. I've been reading about your experience, and really amazing what you gone through on that training. I'm hoping to go to that school in the next 2 months. Would it be possible to connect by email or something? I need some advice from you :)

  Bass Oct 28, 2016 7:05 PM

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