Many of us can recall that our favorite Chinese movies are martial arts. But still, we are obsessed at the Kung-fu skills by legendary film stars like Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Bruce-Lee and at times we try to imitate their fighting skills. If you have ever watched movies like The Drunken Master, Fist of Fury, and Iron Monkey then you would feel that you need these useful fighting skills in your daily life.
Chinese martial arts is not all about fighting the enemy. It involves both mental and physical attentiveness to help you become a skilled fighter. For centuries, kung-fu has been factored into different versions and which are still practiced today. Chinese martial arts only became popular to the outside world through the modern Chinese films.
Becoming a martial arts student is a kind of struggle itself because the journey involves decisive sacrifices and personal dedications to become a good disciple. The training is quite rigorous and requires you to be fully determined, brave and of course well-focused to endure the discomforts.
If you are visiting China as a tourist, you can go up to the mountainous regions to receive basic training especially in Kung-fu (horse stance), Tai-chi (single whip) or Wing Chun (thrusting fist). But if you are really serious and would want to stay up for longer to get a real training experience, then getting in touch with a martial arts master can help you to become a pro. The following martial arts disciplines should get you a real kung-fu experience:
The Shaolin, based on Buddhist doctrines
The most popular martial arts discipline, Shaolin has the most real martial artists and many have turned out to become martial arts masters. Based on the Buddhism doctrines, Shaolin presents you with the core life-reflection principles on which the authentic kung-fu is established.
Many Shaolin martial arts schools are found near the Shaolin Temple in central Henan province. Shaolin Temple Tagou Wushu School which is the biggest martial arts school in China is located here and boasts of more than 35,000 students.
The place is also regarded as the birthplace of the Shaolin martial arts. It is found in the forests of Mount Song. If you are a tourist, you will have plenty to experience, from the scenic green mountains, the centuries-old Buddhist temples, monastery grounds, the Pagoda temple and the forests. You can also be able to watch the regular Wushu kung-fu performance by the disciples and their masters.
Taijiquan for health benefits and self-defense
This is a Taoist stronghold found in the Wudang mountains, Hubei province. It is considered as the birthplace of Taijiquan which combines Taoist doctrines within Kung-fu. It offers an inspiring martial arts experience that is focused on health benefits and some self-defense skills.
The area is not so much popular with tourists and as such, it is still underdeveloped. There are spectacular mountain ranges that will get you inspired while learning at the same time.
Learning martial arts in the Taoism way will help you to reactivate your internal energy and learn the basic skills to help you in challenging times. The Taijiquan kung-fu has three goals that every disciple must look forward to; the virtue of transcendence, immortality, and health. To achieve those goals, you need to be a firm believer in the Taoist principles. One of the most common Taoist martial arts schools in the area that you should check out is the Wudang Daoist Traditional Kung-Fu Academy.
Tai-chi, the Taoism martial arts
This martial arts version is traced to a small village called Chen and it was named after its founding family. This small dusty village provides the authentic tai chi as you will find out in almost every corner of the village people practicing tai chi in every way of their life. In homes, fields, mountains, marketplaces, etc.
Every year, tai chi disciples and masters descend on the small village for pilgrimage. Prospective students are among them and these come here to seek the real tai chi masters from the Chen lineage to give them a correct tai chi training. They believe that learning the correct tai chi will help to set them on the right path of life and avoid problems
If you want to learn the tai chi basics then there’s a school directed by Chen Xiao Ching who is also a direct descendant of a once-famous tai chi expert Chen Fake. The school is called Chen Jia Gou Tai Chi School.
The scenic Mount Emei is found in Sichuan province and it is very significant in the spread of kung-fu and development of many different kung-fu styles like the most common one, the Emeiquan. Though the place isn’t very scenic like all the others mentioned above, but you will get good training and experience from even the common person. Almost everyone is skilled in Emeiquan, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a farmer or a postman. It’s like, you won’t know until you ask.
One of the most famous Emeiquan masters is called Master Li Quan and he has taught hundreds of students for several decades now but now commands a huge following of many disciples. His school is just outside Chengdu, Sichuan’s provincial capital. Though the place might not look so interesting to tourists, you can explore Mount Emei for hiking especially in the winter and fall.
The Wing Chun kung-fu
This originated in Fujian province but currently well practiced in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is regarded as Kung-fu’s meeting point with the outside world. Due to some political upheavals in the mainland China, many kung-fu masters and students fled to Hong Kong. Here, kung-fu has been well preserved.
Hong Kong has been critical in playing custodianship over Kung-fu as it provided a safe refuge for its practitioners. The early kung-fu movies were cast in Hong Kong and one of the most famous martial arts disciple Bruce-Lee helped to bring Kung-fu to the world’s attention in his early 1970’s movies.
He was a disciple to Wing Chun master Yip Man and he is well-honored at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum with a full-sized sculpture on the harbor and other memorabilia collections. If you want the Wing Chun version of kung-fu then you will have to get into contact with Sam Lau who also happens to be a descendant of Yip Man. His school is found in Tsim Sha Tsui. In this way, you will experience the magical China both as a tourist and as a martial arts disciple.