1- First and foremost why don’t you introduce yourself
2- Why did you decide to come to China to study Chinese kungfu and culture?
3- How long have you been here and what style do you choose?
4- Why did you choose to come to Shengjing Shan?
5- What do you think about the location?
6- Do you prefer the smaller group environment here at Shengjing Shan?
7- What goals did you have before coming here and have you achieved them?
8- Importantly, what do you think about the food here?
9- If you had three pieces of advice for people thinking of coming here what would they be?
10- Honestly, who do you think this school is for?
Hi, my name is Anthony Lisa, I’m 17 and from California. I’ve been interested in kungfu for a while, originally I wanted to stay in the States but I realised you can’t match the hours and quality of training here in China. Also because I wanted to learn some Chinese and more about the country itself, it was a logical option.
So I’m currently studying Bagua under Master Qu and have been doing so for 5 months, but I’ve been in China for 9 months. Master Qu is the main reason I came to this school. After having had him as my master for three months and having had other masters before him, I knew he was the best I’ve ever trained with. In short I want to be the best I can possibly be and I thinkMaster Qu is the person who is the most suited to this job.
Its also worth mentioning that it’s really beautiful here and great for training which is obviously a plus. Sometimes it can feel a little bit isolated from the major cities but in truth it has all the necessities for day-to-day living.
I really enjoy the small group environment as well. Of course there are benefits that come with having a big group, but with a smaller group you have more 1-to-1 time with the master. This means you have more time to understand the moves, the theory and the power behind what you are being taught, whereas with a big group it can sometimes feel a bit rushed. Before I arrived, my goals were mostly physical ones but they’ve pretty much all changed over time because what you think is important changes as you train. Even though I haven’t achieved the original goals I set out with, I’m extremely happy with where I’m personally at, given the fact that in hindsight the goals I set weren’t really relevant to the kungfu which I’m studying.
The food here is very good but after 9 months it cansometimes get quite repetitive, but you expect that when you live and train in a kungfu school. If you are eating meat here then of course there is more variety but this isn’t something I’m particularly concerned about as I’m a vegetarian. Ultimately food isn’t really a point of interest here, in that you come to see it simply as fuel and a means to an end, which is being able to train hard.
The first piece of advice would be for you to expect nothing. Secondly you should try live to these three words; survive, train, improve. Everyone’s first week is going to be difficult, you just have to do your best and try to get through it. Then as you progress you have to train harder, whether that is during classtime or by yourself in your free time. Once you get to the point where you are honestly pushing yourself, you will see yourself improve immensely. Lastly, get used to drinking hot water hahaha.
As for who this school is for, it's a little bit hard to give one definitive answer. For example here you’ll find the person who wants to learn more about China and its culture, you’ll also find the fitness buff and even the person who wants to discover the deeper meaning of martial arts and meditation. In honesty, the way I see it, there is almost something here for everybody.
Hi, my name is Valentina Natale, I’m Italian but live in Belgium and this is the second time I have come to China to train kungfu. One of the reasons I decided to return was because I am on a gap year and had the time to do so. However the main reason was because last year I had an incredible time training with Master Qu．This is my second month back and I have one more month left here. I originally started Mantis last year with a view to only try it out for one week before moving over to Shaolin. In fact after the first day with Master Qu I changed my plans and decided to stay with him.
The first reason for coming to Shengjing Shan was because Master Qu was here. Although last year I had only trained with him for one month, I really felt he understood me and that he was my shifu. He tries to make you become a better person in every sense, and he always motivates you to train harder, by the end of your time with him you just want to make him proud.
Secondly, the surroundings, for example when I first visited the new school it was exactly what I expected when you think about coming to train in China. Since we are on the temple grounds, it means you get a more real and educational experience about China’s history, culture and religion. I came here knowing it wasn’t going to be a huge school, and that it was going to be more personal and family like. Even sitting round the table with the masters and the cook is great, despite not always understanding what they are saying, it makes for a much better experience.
The location is very “kungfu-ish” and we have lots of little training spots outside, up in the mountains, which are amazingly cool. If you’re already a martial arts freak you are going to fall in love, and even if you’re not you probably will anyway. It’s less like a Western bubble here, which might seem scary at first but the overall experience is far more enriching. As for having a smaller group, there are some bits that I like, others not so much. During free time its sometimes nice to be able to hang out with lots of people and be forced to get along with people you wouldn’t normally hang out with. However the most important thing here is your training. With a smaller group you train harder, you are motivated by both the students and masters alike. For example when there were only three students at the school, I had a two hour 1-to-1 kickboxing session with Master Qu. Even though it was difficult, it was amazing at the same time as I felt myself improving. Also you really begin to bond and become a family unit.
Originally my goals were fitness orientated and I’ve achieved most of the goals I had set myself, including upper body strength and endurance training. Unfortunately I have had shin splints and so I haven’t been able to work on my cardio as much as I would have liked to. But the injury has been a blessing in disguise as it has helped me to hone my mental strength. At Shengjing Shan you begin to learn how strong you actually are and how strong you can become, both physically and mentally, which is great for the future. I feel if I can make it here, then I can make it anywhere.
For me food is always an issue, not only am I a food freak but I’m also gluten intollerant, so I like to know everything that is going into my food. However the cook here is great, especially compared to a lot of other Chinese cooks. She really tries to cook as healthy as possible given the confines of Chinese cuisine. The cook even invited us to her house and taught us how to make dumplings. Not only does she always listen to your suggestions, she is very willing to provide anybody with their own “special-needs” meal.
The three pieces of advice I would give would be;
-Stop thinking, just come, if possible for at least three months.
-Bring protein powder if you’re a fitness freak.
-Train a little before you come.
I think this school is suited for anyone who loves fitness. Ok maybe not the gym rats who spend every waking moment pushing weights, here is more suited to the people who are willing to push themselves physically and mentally. Shengjing Shan is especially good for those who may have been having a hard time back home and need some space for personal reflection and development.
Hi I’m Steve, I’m 43 and come from the Republic of Yorkshire (a.k.a. Leeds,England).
I took a career break from my job in the U.K. and did a year learning Chinese in Beijing. However I wanted more of a cultural experience and so I settled on internal Chinese martial arts.
I currently study Bagua,Taichi, and Qigong on a full time basisand have been doing so under Master Qu for over one year. I chose to come to Shengjing Shan because I had been training under Master Qu for one year and was happy with his style of teaching. He accomodates to all ages and abilities, quickly identifying your strengths and working from that angle. The location here is also excellent, considering its in the mountains and close to the temple. The temple can be accessed all day and the environment provides us with some scenic spots to train by. In modern China construction is everywhere, even in the heart of the countryside, so although this place is extremely tranquil there is still some element of development.
So the smaller group really appeals to me over a larger group as a sense of family really begins to develop, especially for the long term students. The quality of teaching is certainly better this way as the master spends more time with the student and so your progress and understanding is at a much deeper level.
As for my goals, originally it was nothing more than to have a rewarding cultural experience but in hindsight I’ve discovered somethng deeper, and this is why I am continuing to train with Master Qu for the foreseeable future. Bagua is little known in the U.K. and it would be nice to take it back to England and teach.
I’m glad to say the food is generally excellent here. However I’m still not used to Chinese meals, which consist of predominantly vegetables and carbohydrates rather than having a piece of meat at the heart of the meal like in the West.
If I had to give three pieces of advice they would be:
-Physically prepare yourself.
-Strictly follow the advice set by the school as it will drastically improve the qualityof your training.
-Come with a positive attitude and believe in why you are coming here, it will only improve your overall training experience.
Lastly it has to be said that this school really is for anyone. Since I’ve been here I’ve seen people of all ages and backgrounds train with us. The masters are highly skilled in both their kungfu and their teaching skills and can manage anybody. It really is for anybody with an interest in culture, sport, kungfu or even China in general...