Saturday, 10 October 2009

Kung Fu Training at Kunyu Shan mountains, China

Ive just completed my first full weeks training here (here being Kunyu mountains njear Yantai, Shadong province). Im learning 2 systems, Mantis and Ba Gua Zhang and taking extra classes in Qigong twice a day and some bits of Taiji and Xingyi. The school is set at the just outside a national park, in the mountains, so the environment is really peaceful and the air is fresh. There are 4 masters at the school, 2 of them Shaolin monks, called Big Wang and Little Wang, and the other 2 are Master Qu, who is my main master, for Mantis and Ba Gua and Master Guo, who teaches Wing Chun and Ba Ji, he teaches the Qigong and other optional classes. There are about 30 students here, from UK, France, Belgium, Australia, South Africa, America, Canada and other places.

The training is much better than I expected, I was a little worried it would be a lot of Wushu forms and acrobatics and no real Kung Fu, but actually, it is exactly what I wanted. My Mantis class has just 6 of us, and Master Qu is a really good master. He is friendly and caring, but at the same time, is very strict and has high standards. Everyone here comments that Mantis class is of a high standard. Master Qu is in his 30s, but looks much younger, he is strict in class, people who mess around or swear have to do 40 push ups or hold horse stance for 5 minutes, and is someone is slacking, he gives them a little slap or whack with his bamboo cane. We have a good balance of physical conditioning and technical training. We spend a lot of time on basics, sometimes in an hour and a half session, we will work on 2 or 3 basic movements, first just doing them in the air, then on the punch bags, then as a partner drill. Afternoons we often do more application work, learning how to use our basics or forms. We do 2 or 3 mile runs a week, then Friday we run up and down the mountain 4 times, which is hell. We have a power training session, which is like strength training, we do things like doing basic movements or holding stances with bricks in our hands, practicing our grip strength on wooden poles and whatever other pain Master Qu wants us to go through. We also have a power stretching session, where you hold a stretch as deeply as you can, then someone pushes you even further, ignoring your screams and holds is for a minute, it feels so good after though! Then we do forearm and shin toughening on trees and learn to take kicks to different parts of the body.
The only downside here is that Id like to do more Ba Gua, we do Mantis 4 days a week and Ba Gua only 1. Ba Gua is a good style for me because Im small, and its all about evasion and moving round the opponent, so its good for multiple attackers. It works on redirecting force through circles and getting behind the opponent for takedowns, chokes etc.

I really enjoy the Qigong class with Master Guo. He is really friendly and approachable and seems to always smile. His Qigong is his own families system, which is very effective. We do it twice a day, standing for half an hour, the first 10 minutes we focus on the Qi in our Lao Gong points, which are in the centre of your hand, you have to build up a magnetic feeling between your palms by moving them together and apart, and when you get it, it feels great. Then, you move your focus to your lower Dan Tian, in your belly, which is where the Qi is stored. You can feel a warm and inflated feeling there. One day a week, we learn Hard Qi Gong, which is how to use your Qi to break bricks and things, which will take a while for me to get the hang of before I really try! Then we do Taiji every morning with him, although its pretty much just the form, and we do Xingyi Quan twice a week in the afternoon after Qigong, I like doing it, but I think he only really teaches the basics as its an extra class. Master Guos internal power is amazing, apparently a few weeks before I came, the Masters gave a performance, and Master Guo broke a marble slab, balanced on tofu, with 2 fingers. Although he broke 1 finger in the process, but then he used Qigong and healed it in a week.

Weve also had theory classes in the evenings, learning massage, acupuncture theory, Buddhism, Taoism, Kung Fu theory, history and philosophy and calligraphy. I really enjoy the training here and highly recommend Kunyu Shan to anybody serious about Kung Fu training.