A fan of milder weather? Then you should definitely opt for Yunnan. Located within the South East Asian border, Yunnan is the perfect answer for you who probably catch yourself in between desires of training Kung Fu in China and backpacking across South East Asia. Why not start equipping yourself with some kick-ass Kung Fu moves to protect you from being a possible crime-victim during your journey? Talk about killing two birds with one stone! (Metaphorically speaking of course)
Yunnan Kung Fu
For centuries China stood as a leading civilization, outpacing the rest of the world in the arts and sciences, but in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the country was beset by civil unrest, major famines, military defeats, and foreign occupation. After World War II, the Communists under MAO Zedong established an autocratic socialist system that, while ensuring China's sovereignty, imposed strict controls over everyday life and cost the lives of tens of millions of people. After 1978, his successor DENG Xiaoping and other leaders focused on market-oriented economic development and by 2000 output had quadrupled. For much of the population, living standards have improved dramatically and the room for personal choice has expanded, yet political controls remain tight.
Did you think Kung Fu Panda was an awesome movie? Have you ever dreamed of practising Shaolin Kung Fu in China? Have you ever wanted to live in a real Chinese Shaolin Temple? Then keep on reading! I did Kung Fu in a Shaolin Temple in China so I am going to share my experiences with you. I will also provide you with some useful tips if you want to go there. When I was a little kid, I absolutely loved martial arts (I still do by the way). One of my big dreams was to practise Kung Fu in China and live in a monastery for a while. When I visited China, I was very determined to find a Shaolin Temple where I could fulfill my big dream and I found one!
Wu Wei Si Monastery
Yunnan is a province in southern China. In this province there is a little town called Dali. Dali is a beautiful ancient town, surrounded by mountains and a big lake. Deep in the mountains and ancient forests there is a place where time stood still. This place is called the Wu Wei Si Monastery. Wu Wei Si is a Shaolin Temple where foreigners get the chance to practise the ancient art of Shaolin Kung Fu. The place resembles the monastery found in the movie Kung Fu Panda. I absolutely loved that movie because it really breathes the mystical atmosphere that surrounds Kung Fu as does this monastery!
How to get there? First of all, there is no way to contact the monastery in advance. They don’t have a website, no phone number and no e-mail. It is totally cut off from western society (an aspect I absolutely love about the place). So, the only way to get there is just to go there! The best time to go is on a Friday evening because a full week of training starts on Saturdays. The place you first want to go to is Dali Old City. To get there you can take a bus from Kunming (the capital of Yunnan). The bus will drop you in Dali New City (yes, there is a Dali New City and a Dali Old City!). From the new city, it’s a cheap bus ride to the old city. Once you get to Dali Old City, you can pick one of the many guesthouses to stay in. From the guesthouse, you can arrange a taxi to bring you up the mountain to the monastery on a Friday.
What does a typical day in the Shaolin Temple look like? Now you know how to get there, you probably wonder what a typical day looks like. What kind of training do you do? When do you start training? How long do you train? If you go there, I can tell you that you will find yourself fully submerged with the every day life in the Shaolin Temple. After breakfast, the Shaolin Kung Fu training begins.
I spent one week in the temple and during this week they teach you one form of Kung Fu, which is an imaginary fight against multiple opponents. They do strenuous warm up exercises that involve a lot of stretching and acrobatic moves. It’s really fun trying to compete with the little Kung Fu kids! After the first training session, you have lunch. After lunch, you can have a rest or teach English to the people living in the monastery. In the afternoon, there is another training session, which takes about 2 hours (just like the first one). After the evening session, you can relax and sit around a little fire in one the rooms of the monastery. Everybody usually goes to bed around 8.30pm to 9 pm to wake up again the next morning at 5am!
Why should you do it? For me, practicing Kung Fu in China was a childhood dream, which came true. I had a wonderful time in the Shaolin Temple. The temple looks like it came straight out of a movie and it is an amazing experience to mix in with the monks. If you are looking for a real genuine Kung Fu experience in China, I can highly recommend going to the Wu Wei Si Monastery. They will ask for a small fee (I think it was about 50 dollars for the whole week). That’s almost nothing! And, hey, they also have to buy the food for you and provide you with accommodation. If you love martial arts, you should visit this temple. I think that even if you don’t like martial arts, you will still have a wonderful experience. The monastery is a retreat from western society. After a week, you feel so relaxed and at peace with yourself.