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Join Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat for an intense burst of old style Kung Fu course in an amazing mountain setting. Live eat and train in a real Kung Fu school with genuine enthusiasts. It’s a program packed with training that will give you an insight into this fascinating ancient art and leave you feeling fitter and fresher. This is a chance to learn some useful skills and exercise techniques which you will be able to continue practicing.
The rooms at Nam Yang are very spacious and comfortable with fan and en-suite shower room and toilet or wash room. You could choose between a private or shared room.
The school itself is built in the local Shan style architecture according to Chinese Feng Shui principles. They grow their own vegetables. There are also kitchen and dining area where food are prepared using home grown ingredients wherever possible.
There’s wireless internet which is free to all those staying in the school.
The course includes:
This course is run by Nam Yang Puglistic Association, founded in Singapore in 1954 by Great Grand Master Ang Lian Huat and dedicated to passing on the real arts of old China. Nam Yang has now become an international community with branches in Thailand, UK, Russia, Italy, and Germany.
Train with experienced professional teachers, including Master Iain Armstrong in relaxed, constructive atmosphere. Leave your ego behind and become part of the community. This course is taught for Westerners. Here in Nam Yang, your needs will be met. Complex concepts are explained in clear English by experienced teachers. There is no need for translators.
In a three-day stay you will immerse yourself in the culture and lifestyle of Shaolin Kung Fu and experience for yourself what it is all about. You will learn:
After three short days, you will feel fitter and healthier, enhance your confidence, maybe experience a small weight adjustment, improve your flexibility, detox your body, and enjoy yourself.
Fast, accurate, and deadly, the tiger - crane combination is a classic southern Shaolin style which emphasizes intricate hand techniques thrown from a solid, stable stance.
Being close to the original Shaolin white crane, this style emphasizes the use of touch sensitivity to connect to an opponent and feel their movement and intention, countering them immediately when they initiate a move - before it can become dangerous. It also uses "springy" power generated from the tendons rather than the muscle - the hallmark of genuine Shaolin Kung Fu.
The tiger-crane stance is fairly high allowing for mobility and fast stepping. The hand techniques are thrown from close range so as to maximize their chances of success and generally target weak points where they will have the greatest effect.
At an advanced level, springy power from the tendons can be used to generate a power which penetrates deeply into the body and affects the internal organs - ask an instructor for a safe, controlled demonstration!
Benefits of practicing the tiger crane art include:
Usually referred to as "Shuang Yang" for short, this is the internal form of the white crane art. It is performed in a very soft, relaxed way, gently opening the chi flow in the meridians, training elasticity into all of the tendons and massaging the internal organs. Whilst superficially very similar to Tai Chi, it is part of the Buddhist Shaolin tradition, rather than the Taoist Wutan tradition.
Many people practice the Shuang Yang primarily to benefit their health, vitality, and longevity. Whilst the slow, gentle nature of the training make it ideal for older or less fit people, make no mistake: this is a genuine martial art.
The Shuang Yang art uses mostly the bow arrow stance - a longer stance than the tiger crane art. Weight is sunk down and movement is generated from the core of the body, moving out to the limbs like a wave through water. Training connects all of the tendons in the body into one resilient, elastic network with incredible strength. All movements are performed with the whole body.
Shuang Yang training is particularly suitable for China - the Chinese art of twisting joints, pressing pressure points, and sealing off the flow of breath or blood. As a crane art, the Shuang Yang develops touch sensitivity and encourages sticking to an opponent, neutralizing their attacks and then countering decisively.
The benefits of the Shuang Yang art include:
Weapons have always featured strongly in Shaolin Kung Fu training and are one of the most popular parts of the syllabus - even in the modern era. Training starts with simple basics such as how to stand, grip the weapon, etc. and extends to cover simple and advanced moves, strategies, tactics, target areas, etc.
The weapon training is not just "show style". The genuine art of weapon use for combat will be taught. Unlike in many other cultures, the Shaolin weapons were still used for war very recently, such as by the Chinese army in WWII and by Kung Fu groups as recently as the 1970s.
Some of the teachers here at Nam Yang have direct experience with these weapons - this is not something which you will find in many schools.
The benefits of Shaolin weapon training include the following:
Many people are vaguely aware of the great benefits of Chi Kung meditation to the health and longevity but don’t really understand how it works. Here is an overview:
By its nature, Chi Kung (also known as Qi Gong or Ki Gung) is simple and easy yet amazingly effective. Anyone can practice it successfully, regardless of age or fitness. The essential requirements are a properly trained instructor and good, fresh air. The basic Chi Kung system taught is Tong Ling (clearing and circulating) Chi Kung.
Martial Chi Kung goes a step beyond Chi Kung for health. It develops abilities well beyond those of normal people.
Mastery of this type of Chi Kung is what enables martial arts masters to perform such "super human" feats as punching the ends off bricks, washing in broken glass, rubbing red hot metal, and being hit with hammers and axes.
There is a number of different systems of martial Chi Kung. The first is vein tendon Chi Kung is a simple but effective system which tones all of tendon in the body and increases its elasticity so that it can store energy.
The next is Tat Moh Chi Kung, a straightforward system which emphasizes reverse abdominal breathing and therefore trains elasticity into the internal organs, energizing them and making them resilient to injury
The Sum Chien routine from the Tiger - Crane combination art is perhaps the most powerful exercise for martial Chi Kung. It involves building elasticity into the whole body and then using it to store energy in the lower tan tien (the lower chi energy center of the body), releasing it in explosive bursts down to the hands, and then returning it to the tan tien to be used again. It incorporates reverse abdominal breathing and exercises absolutely all of the tendons in the body.
Martial Chi Kung can be learned by people of reasonable fitness, male or female. It takes regular training over a period of time to achieve a high level of skill, but the exercises can be learned in a relatively short space and then practiced anywhere.
Martial Chi Kung has the following benefits:
Meditation forms an intrinsic part of the training program. Generally, you are taught how to perform simple, safe meditations and then encouraged to practice them in their own time, quietly and comfortably. On nights of the full moon, a special meditation together at midnight is practiced directly under the full moon.
The meditation taught include:
These can be combined with natural or reverse abdominal breathing. Full moon meditations take advantage of the pure yin energy which emanates from the moon at midnight (the most yin hour) when it is full (the moon’s most yin phase). These special meditations give an amazing charge but are best practiced under supervision, at least to start with!
The complement to the full moon meditations is the practice of Chi Kung just at sunrise on the day of the new moon, taking advantage of yang energy.
The self-defense training is very practically based and can be tailored to suit the individual. What is emphasized is avoidance as opposed to confrontation (it’s much safer) and techniques which do not inflict serious injury (killing or maiming an attacker is likely to get you into very serious trouble in most countries, especially if they are a local).
Practical self-defense involves forward planning, awareness, positive body language, quick thinking, diplomacy, and confidence. Physical confrontation is a last resort. If it does get physical, take downs and restraints are both good options - they prevent an opponent from hurting you without inflicting injury on them.
It may be necessary to disarm the opponent first. The defense techniques that are taught are based on Kung Fu, Chinese boxing, and a great deal of experience. The training, which is simple and effective, will enable you to travel without fear.
Conditioning and flexibility are vital for any martial artist. At Nam Yang, morning meditation and soft arts are complimented by approximately one hour of active workouts and stretches in the afternoon to improve endurance and elasticity.
Conditioning routines are borrowed from various martial and athletic disciplines to maximize stamina, cardio, and strength improvement while maintaining safety and a mind for technique.
Stretching routines employ methods from both Kung Fu and yoga to greatly improve joint and muscle flexibility and teach body relaxation. Students often notice significant improvements in flexibility and elasticity after leaving the mountain retreat.
Master Iain Armstrong
Master Iain is a Kung Fu philosopher and author with 36 years of living Kung Fu. Trained personally by Grand Master Tan Soh Tin in Singapore, he’s a two-time world champion and veteran of real street battles. Famous for his high-quality Kung Fu teaching, his instructional films and magazine articles, and for his demonstrations of Iron Shirt Chi Kung, Master Iain is a mine of information but retains a very practical, down to earth, and realistic approach. Most people who meet him are struck by his air of calm, patience, and wisdom.
This Kung Fu training course will take place in Nam Yang Mountain Retreat, located in the foothills of the mountains overlooking the Pai river valley in the northern part of Mae Hong Son, Thailand’s remote North Western province. Mae Hong Son translates as ‘the land of mist’. It is dominated by fairly high, forested mountains and is sparsely inhabited, mainly by Thailand’s famous hill tribes.
The mountain retreat is designed to be the ultimate martial arts training and meditation venue. It is set on 2.1 acres of land on the side of a mountain spur, bordering the jungle and maintaining awesome views across the Pai river valley to mountains which rise steadily to the Himalayas.
The training facilities include two octagonal training areas: an open area 18 by 18 meters and a roofed area 13 by 13 meters with two centimeters thick mats throughout. There is also a training circuit with poles, a tyre dummy, punch bags, and parallel bars. Additional facilities include a prayer house, which may be used for meditation or prayer, an office, and a huge statue of Tat Moh (Boddhidharma), the Shaolin founder.
The mountain retreat provides fantastic photo and video opportunities, with constantly changing views according to the season. It is also sheltered behind a mountain ridge so that no built up areas are within view - only farms, small villages, and forested mountains - but is in fact only five minute ride from the lively town of Pai with its multitude of restaurants, bars, cafes, etc. so you really do get the best of both worlds!
The mountain retreat is designed to give a complete experience, providing the best training, food, fun, air, medicine, views and rest. This way, you get the best experience and the best results. You can expect to leave the Nam Yang Mountain Retreat feeling healthier, stronger, and more alert than when you arrived.
Thailand is a great country. It is one of the most popular destinations for international travelers. If you are going to stay somewhere, why not stay somewhere really nice? It is close enough to Singapore that the top masters can travel easily.
The north of Thailand has some of the very best chi in the world. It flows down from the Himalayas. This makes for a perfect place to practice chi kung and seriously boosts health and vitality. This was the primary reason for choosing the location of Nam Yang.
The Pai Valley is an area of incredible natural beauty. High in the mountains, it epitomizes the Kung Fu dream of training in pure, fresh air with awesome views well away from the distractions of modern life and the pollution of modern cities.
Quality food is essential for martial artists in hard training. Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat has their own kitchen garden, herb garden, and fruit trees. They are fully self-sufficient for rice and papaya and largely self-sufficient for vegetables. Nam Yang also produces a fair amount of fruit, according to season.
What Nam Yang doesn’t grow themselves, they choose carefully. They prepare local style food but use selected medicinal herbs to improve its value. The diet is calculated to best support the Kung Fu training.
Food prepared on site is as fresh, organic, and healthy as possible and is usually delicious local Thai or Shan style, or sometimes Chinese or southern Thai style. Meals start with one or two types of fruit and possibly some salad.
Typically, there will be two main dishes with rice. Most dishes are vegetarian but some meat and fish are also served. There will always be at least one vegetarian dish with each meal. Nam Yang also tries their best to cater for specialist diets.
Nam Yang supplies breakfast daily and evening meals on training days. Drinking water is supplied free with meals and is available from the kitchen free of charge at any time for resident students.
The instructors eat in the dining area, together with the students, which is testimony to the quality of the food and helps provide a good ethos for the school. Meal times are therefore ideal for discussing Kung Fu and asking questions.
Almost any style of food can be purchased in Pai (Italian, Western, Middle Eastern, Chinese, Indian, etc). The local diet is based mainly around rice, meat, fresh-water fish, vegetables, fruit, and spices. However, seafood is relatively expensive in the mountains. Local fruit and vegetables are great, fresh, and very cheap.
During the off days, you could explore Pai Town around and about. Pai acts as a hub for activities and excursions, for example trekking (usually with overnight stay at a hill tribe village), elephant riding, caving, ox cart riding, rafting, off road driving or motorcycling and visiting waterfalls, temples, hill tribes, and many more.
Please book your flight to arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) or Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX). Chiang Mai is much nearer to the Kung Fu Retreat but Bangkok has more flights and is usually cheaper. Transfer from and to the airport is available upon request.
If you are on a very tight budget, you can go to Kao San Road in Bangkok and get an overnight coach for about 300 THB or so to Chiang Mai. This is the least comfortable way to travel.
To get to Pai, take a minibus trip that costs about 200 THB and has awesome views. It takes about three and a half hours, most of which is spent on amazing winding roads through mountains the like of which you have probably never seen before. The views are breathtaking and the journey is an adventure in itself so Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat recommends that you travel during daylight.
When you arrive in Pai, the easiest way to get to retreat center is simply to book a taxi. The taxis are a little way up the main street from the AYA service office. Motorcycle is the cheapest taxi and should cost less than 100 THB.
If you arrive in Bangkok, you could get an overnight sleeper train from the central station, Hua Lam Pong, to Chiang Mai for a little over 1000 THB each way. Booking in advance is recommended. Please be aware that trains in Thailand often run very late. The trains are very comfortable and afford great views of the Thai countryside.
Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat can arrange for a taxi from Pai to come to the airport to meet you. Alternatively, you could speak with drivers in the taxi rank outside the airport. Taxis have been charging about 3,200 THB for the trip.
If Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat arranges a taxi for you, they will need to pay in advance so please do not pay the driver otherwise he will think that he has just got the best tip of his life and likely take a week off.
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