Two weeks of Kung Fu training in China

China… First impression… Cold… After spending two months in tropical environments, you get easily used to the nice weather. Like Europe, the north of China has four seasons. Like Europe, November isn’t the warmest month of the year. It was about 5°C when I arrived in Beijing… As China wasn’t “planned” when I left for my trip, I wasn’t prepared for these temperatures. After a frosty flight and an overpriced taxi I arrived at 3.30am in my hostel.

Beijing – Leo Hostel

For the first time in two months, I had to be covered by warm blankets to sleep.
For the first time in two months, I could see my own breath in the cold. So this is kind of how the weather is back home in Belgium and Strasbourg… I feel with you guys… Luckily it’s only for one month 😉

Anyhow, Leo Hostel hosted some really nice people, and suddenly we had a group of 10 people from all around the world going for dinner together. It was the first time on my trip that we had such a good vibe in a big group. Everybody got along really well and we had an awesome night!

I only spent two “full” days in Beijing, but didn’t visit anything in particular.
After the Kungfu training, I was coming back here anyway. Going outside was kind of a torture for the moment.
One of the first things you notice when you arrive in China is the language barrier. Even for an enormous city like Beijing, almost nobody spoke English
Thank you google translate for being my light in the darkness!

To get to the academy, I had to take a night train that I was able to catch! In this labyrinth of Chinese signs, platforms and strange Chinese logic it’s not always convenient

Maling Shaolin Kungfu Academy

After a short and comfortable night, I arrived in the ”small” city, Xinyi. 1 million habitants, is considered small for a Chinese city…
Headmaster Bao picked me up from the station and brought me to the academy. The school itself is situated in the countryside close to Xinyi, basically in the middle of nowhere.

After having met everyone, discovered the local village and city, bought some cheap winterclothes, the weekend passed by and Monday was the first day of training.

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Weekly training



  • Thai Chi
    • Can be considered as a way of meditation and helps your body to relax and get rid of stress. Thanks to slow movements you kind of learn different self-defence techniques in a relaxed way. In cities around the world, you can sometimes can see groups of  people practicing Tai Chi in parks.
      This morning class was optional and I only went once.
  • Shaolin Basics – Traditional forms
    • Learn basic and animal positions like Tiger, Horsemen, Eagle, Snake, Manta shrimp, Dragon
      Every step had to be tweaked and perfected into detail.
      These positions were sequenced into forms. Sometimes in combination with weapons.
      In these two weeks I managed to learn one form: 5-step, which I had to do about 80 times in one class.
  • Applications – Sanda
    • This class applies the forms and movements into a way you could use them in a street fight.
      Self defence, kicking, taking an opponent down… Sanda is the competitive part of Shaolin Kungfu.
      It was originally invented by the Shaolin monks to practice their skills without killing each other.
  • Jump & Rolls
    • My favourite class! The acrobatic part of Shaolin Kungfu. Learn how to walk on your hands, do frontflips/backflips, learn how to fall properly. Learn to kickup from the ground… Too bad it was only once a week 🙂
  • Power training
    • 1 hour of hell… My least favourite class… Doing a crazy number of weights, pushups, sit-ups… at a superfast pace.
      God, the best moment was when he asked us to line up and the class was over…
  • Power stretching
    • Test your flexibility and discover your limits… And go far beyond that until your muscles are screaming in pain! Master Wong “helped” me doing my split… That was the longest minute in my life! Not really good for your body in my opinion…
  • Conditioning
    • Train your body to get used to pain. Hit the wall ±50 times with your fists/elbows/head/fingers/arms/… Kick each other on the legs/in the abs/on the back/on the arms… Do a 5 minute plank on your fists on frozen concrete.

Mondays were kind of ok. On Tuesday you felt a little bit sore. Wednesdays, every part of your body was hurt. Thursday after lunch, you weren’t able to walk. After the power stretching on Friday, you feel like a chewing gum and you’re grateful for the weekend!

The trainings were hard and the masters strict, but in these two weeks I learned so much!
I discovered that you’re able to do much more with your body then you think.

Freetime and the students

In the evenings we would play Dungeon and Dragons(DnD), a roleplaying game where your imagination is the key.
On weekends we would go to the city to do groceries, eat fastfood or sing karaoke.
The other students were all really nice and all had a really interesting story and background.

(guys let me know if the information isn’t 100% correct)

  • Jim and Joanne (sorry if I spell this wrong)
    A lovely retired Canadian couple who sold their house to spend a couple of years in this academy.
    Jim was doing Tai Chi since 1984 if my memory is correct.
  • Shane
    A real Shaolin knight from Florida who has been in the school since 10 months and is planning to stay about four years.
    He’s also the Dungeon Master (moderator) for our DnD games.
  • Sabine
    An incredible flexible girl from Germany who already spent a long time in a different Kungfu school in China. Later she wants to become a master herself and share her knowledge.
    Check her experiences and Kungfu knowledge on her blog

In the period I was in the school, we were about 13 students. It was a real pleasure meeting all of you!
It makes me really happy to meet people who are doing this with so much passion.

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Good luck to Casper, Catarina, Sabine, Phil, Jim, Joanne, Marcel, Shane, Brad, Zak, Steve, Nonnae and Kasia with your Shaolin adventure!
Thank you Master Du, Master Bao and Master Wong for your knowledge and patience!

Eager to try this yourself? Check out the Maling Shaolin website for more info

If you’re looking for more information around martial arts, check out Jo Anderson’s training guide! It gives you a lot of tips and advice on different martial arts!



3 Comment

  1. Blijkbaar straffe zjef, de maand in de kung-fu school in China. Dan er is in de familie toch éne fel genoeg om er mee door de te gaan.
    Je ziet er goed uit en je bent blijkbaar volop aan het genieten van je wereldreis. Hou het vooral zo. Groeten van nonkel Geert en Rossana vanuit Mexico-Stad.

  2. nice , I Like

  3. Thanks so much for the blog article.Really thank you! CoolShaolin Kung Fu

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