Geoffrey, Gaurav & Mark (UK)

Geoffrey Brent, Gaurav Bapat and Mark Gaukrodger UK
March 1st ,2010-March 27th, 2010

Upon hearing about the Shaolin Kung Fu School in Qufu, I simply had to experience it. Having already had one year of experience in mixed martial arts (Karate, Kickboxing and Jiu Jitsu) and possessing a passion for martial arts in general, my friends and I felt that a month at the school would be the perfect start to our gap year trip.
We were welcomed warmly by Joy, the school’s consultant, and one of the masters when we arrived in early March 2010. We felt comfortable from the beginning and got along well with the other students, all of whom came from very different places and backgrounds. In particular everybody had an excellent attitude towards learning. We were all there for the same basic reason, to learn and experience Shaolin Kung Fu, but we found much more in common than just martial arts. There was a very friendly atmosphere at the school, but naturally when class started a high level of discipline and focus had to be maintained.
A typical day involved waking up just before 7am for breakfast (or 6am if you wanted to learn Tai Chi), and then at 8:30 going for a run. We would stretch every muscle in our bodies and warm up fully before every class. Then the fun would begin. On Monday and Wednesday mornings we would practice “Shaolin Basics” and “Traditional Forms”, providing us insight to some of the core disciplines of Shaolin Kung Fu. On Tuesdays we flipped and cartwheeled our way through “Jumps and Rolls”, a personal favourite class of mine. Thursdays and Fridays were the toughest, as they included “Power Training” for strength, “Power Stretching” for flexibility, and of course “Shaolin Endurance”. The latter involves a trip to a mountain not far from the School, where an enormous set of steps awaits. Climbing up and down a few hundred steps may sound relatively easy, but it isn’t when you have to crawl down the steps on your front.
The only major downside to this whole experience was that we couldn’t stay longer. To get the most out of the truly astounding capabilities of the masters and the variety of classes, you really need to spend longer than a month at the school. I found that having some martial arts experience beforehand enabled me to learn at a faster rate than those who hadn’t, and I recommend preparing for your time at the school by getting as fit and flexible as possible before you arrive.
My friends and I thoroughly enjoyed our stay. We have been inspired to pick up martial arts again when we return home, even though it will pale in comparison to our experience here.

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Experiences of the students

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