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Gongfu, or Kung Fu, is in the western culture used purely to define Chinese martial arts, but in China, it has a wider meaning which takes in all aspects of life. A literal translation could be the "achievement of man", as its true meaning is the hard work and long hours that a practitioner dedicates to a task or skill. This is never truer than in the pursuit of martial arts mastery, where raw talent will only take you a short distance but dedication will constantly improve you.
The student accommodation building is located within the school grounds. With single and double student bedrooms, a dining room, bathrooms with hot showers and western toilets, and common room with Wi-Fi, the accommodation offers comfort and peace outside of training hours.
To help everyone feel comfortable when they arrive, each student, no matter the length of their stay, will receive a student starter kit with everything they need to settle in such as toiletries, linen, uniform, water bottle, laundry powder, shower slippers, and prayer beads.
Shaolin Kung Fu, also known as Shaolin Quan or Shaolin Fist, is one of the oldest forms of Chinese martial arts, originating in the Buddhist Shaolin Temple in Henan Province. Dating back over 1500 years, Shaolin Kung Fu developed, amongst other reasons, so the monks could protect themselves and the monastery from harm. They became famous for their fearlessness, discipline, and seemingly superhuman abilities.
The styles of Shaolin Kung Fu are largely external (though some internal as well) with many explosive and acrobatic qualities. Their training includes:
There are 72 secret skills belonging to Shaolin Kung Fu. These include 36 hard exercises and 36 soft exercises, known as hard and soft Qi Gong styles. For example, some hard Qi Gong skills include "iron head" and two finger push ups. Soft Qi Gong involves static meditation and dynamic forms like "Ba Duan Jin" (eight-step form).
To this day, Shaolin Kung Fu is still practiced within the temple but its fame has seen its students and followers spread into schools throughout China and the rest of the world. Modern times have also seen its incorporation into the popular martial arts sport often called sports Wushu. For many martial artists, these Wushu competitions provide the best opportunity for them to test their skill and expand their knowledge of what is possible.
Sanda, or Sanshou, is a Chinese kickboxing style martial art designed purely for its self-defense properties. It was developed in the Chinese military from traditional Kung Fu and modern combat practices to be a complete fighting style for their soldiers. Outside of the military, Sanda kickboxing fights have become an immensely popular national sport, with fights taking place almost everyday somewhere in the country.
Sanda’s combination of fighting techniques include wrestling, takedowns, punches, kicks, sweeps, and much more despite its western classification as kickboxing. In fact, the literal translation for Sanda is 'Free Fighting'.
Within training, Sanda or free-fighting is considered one of the two pillars of Chinese martial arts, the other being Taolu, forms, or routines. Even if a student does not wish to fight, learning the Sanda basics in tandem with their Shaolin training can provide a great increase in understanding of martial arts.
Tàijí, or Tai-chi, is an internal Chinese martial art practiced across the world for self-defense as well as its physical and spiritual benefits. First and foremost, Taiji is a martial art with many practical applications and exercises. An example is the popular Tui Shou or pushing hands, which teaches students some of the most integral concepts within internal martial arts: leverage, reflex, sensitivity, timing, coordination, and positioning.
Besides other physical benefits such as increases in strength, flexibility, balance, and circulation of breath, practicing Taiji forms can be compared to a moving meditation which increases your psychological well-being.
Qi Gong, meaning life energy cultivation, is a form of meditation which can be split into two styles, hard Qi Gong and soft Qi Gong, which can also be broken down into dynamic and static forms. Soft Qi Gong is used for spiritual and health benefits including circulating blood, getting rid of stagnant breath, and much more by channeling your Qi energy. Students usually begin with Ba Duan Jin (eight-step form) to practice the postures, movements, and breathing to help balance your chi.
This control and understanding of one's Qi energy can then be used to begin training of the hard Qi Gong techniques, which condition the mind and body against pain and obstruction. One method to achieve this is by the repetitive striking of the body against trees, stone, and sandbags to harden the skin, muscles, and bones against injury. After years of training, Shaolin monks can perform amazing physical feats, such as breaking metal bars on their foreheads and bending spears with their throats.
A huge part of the Shaolin repertoire, the jumps, rolls, spinning kicks, and flips can be some of the hardest elements for many students to master. As an essential part of Shaolin’s external style, the aerial acrobatics use its principles of explosive power, control, and fearlessness.
Examples of a small number of techniques are forward roll, tiger roll, kick up, tornado kick up, forearm plank breakfall, headflip, front or back handspring, and flips. All of which have many variations and uses, as well as the numerous combinations of moves necessary for the most advanced forms.
Power Stretching involves extreme stretching exercises used by the Shaolin monks to reach maximum flexibility. Several techniques and positions are used to help gain this flexibility, such as partner stretching and Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation stretching (PNF), which is a push and relax system. You will learn to push your body to its limit while remaining focused and relaxed. In turn, your body will feel more limber, give you a quicker recovery from strength training and overall feel better during other day-to-day exercises.
This is the weekly training schedule, with small changes occurring during severe weather. There may also be schedule changes during events, competitions, and workshops held by the school.
Mandarin fluency is not necessary as there is an English translator for every class. However, as the classes are only taught in Mandarin and English, fluency in at least one language will greatly improve your experience.
As of this moment, no prior martial arts experience is necessary for students applying for the standard martial arts course. It is worth noting that in the near future places within the school may be limited to experienced or long-term students only.
A student’s preparation before their arrival can be the difference between them reaching their goals and them barely understanding their potential. If you expect to undergo strict and difficult training whilst at the school then you should take the responsibility to ensure you spend time beforehand preparing mentally and physically. Even for those only interested in softer styles (Taiji, soft Qigong, and meditation), the benefits of such exercises are not without a level of hard work from the body and mind.
Students must also prepare their mind for the duration of training they are hoping to achieve. Solidify your goals and aspirations in your mind, begin to let go of your perceived limitations, and realize you must be humble, persistent , and able to laugh at your own mistakes. The mind frame a student enters the school with, as well as how realistic they are with themselves, will usually determine the length of their stay.
For those with previous martial arts training, it is advised you continue your own training with at least three to five sessions a week, and if your style does not naturally contain an acrobatic element, then attempt to become more comfortable with rolls, cartwheels, and explosive jumps.
All future students with no martial arts specific training are recommended to begin cardio (running, swimming), body-weight based strength training (push-ups, sit-ups), and stretching. Short sessions of rolling, cartwheels, handstand attempts, and explosive jumping will also greatly speed up your progress at the school.
Yu Kung Fu was started with the desire to guide and train the best martial artists, performers, and competitors. They believe that each student arrives already in possession of all their potential but that it takes a skilled teacher to unlock it all.
And the best part is you can use the tools and knowledge given to you to continue to train and improve for the rest of your life, your potential is limitless. Tailored training as intense as you can handle. Martial arts training is inherently difficult, there is no improvement or satisfaction if it is not. Cuts turn to scars, knuckles callous, muscles grow and stretch, and your skill increases but only if you keep moving forward, changing, training harder and smarter.
Founded only recently in the summer of 2017, the Tengzhou Shaolin Academy, Yu Kung Fu, was opened by Headmaster Yu ZhiChao to create a wushu school with a singular purpose: to guide, provide for, and create the best martial artists and athletes.
It is the dream of the headmaster and in turn, the school, that they should bring together a diverse team of students from across the world to expand their knowledge and fine-tune their technique; preparing them for competitions, performances, teaching, or just furthering personal experience.
Inside the school grounds, there are the facilities for students to train full-time in all available disciplines: Shaolin basics and forms, Sanda (Chinese Kickboxing), acrobatics, Taiji, Qigong, strength, and flexibility training. Gymnastics mats, boxing bags, speedballs, weights, body conditioning equipment, racks with all Shaolin weapons are just some of the resources available.
Master Yu ZhiChao is the 34th generation Shaolin monk of the Shaolin Temple and the member of the Temple's International performance group. He is the founder and Headmaster of Yu Kung Fu Martial Arts Academy. Headmaster YuZhiChao began full-time martial arts training at the age of 8. He then was accepted into the Songshan Shaolin Temple in Henan Province to begin his life long journey as a Shaolin disciple. By 2014, he had achieved a sixth band rank within the Shaolin Temple, the level of master, and began to expand his teaching experience to foreign students.
The school is located in the headmaster’s birthplace, a small village outside Tengzhou City, Shandong Province. It stands on the very edge of the town with forests and open farming land extending for kilometers. The village itself is filled with a traditional Chinese community of friendly families and high-walled houses. The walls are covered in paintings and tiled murals depicting sacred mountains and waterfalls.
The school is only 30 minutes from the bustling Tengzhou City, which has all the amusements and supplies necessary for outside of training. There is also a shop within the school which can provide anything else a student will need for training, such as shoes, personal weapons, and clothes.
Three meals a day are provided in the dining room with coffee and tea served with breakfast. All dietary requirements can be met by the cook.
A small number of private classes are available throughout the week for 375 CNY an hour.
Optional Mandarin classes are offered to any students who desire them. Students will also be able to work on their Mandarin during class with the master.
Exploring China during your visit is recommended so you may make the most of your experience abroad. The only condition is that you must advise the school of your travel plans beforehand.
Only a few minutes walk from the school are a few small restaurants, shops and a big lake for swimming. In the city of Tengzhou, there is any of the restaurants, activities, and sights you would find in a large Chinese city.
Please book your flights to arrive at Jining Qufu Airport (JNG). Transfer from and to this airport is included. Yu Kung Fu Martial Arts Academy will pick you up at the airport.
A free pickup and drop off service is available from all Tengzhou railway.
A free pickup and drop off service is also available from all Tengzhou bus stations.
Not sure about coming to China by yourself? Yu Kung Fu Martial Arts Academy wants every student to feel safe and comfortable during their time in China. If you are still unsure about catching domestic trains and planes, the school, for a small expenses fee, can send an English speaking representative to any major city to collect you straight off your international flight.
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