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Thread: Houston Shaolin Schools?

  1. #1

    Houston Shaolin Schools?

    Can anyone here provide insight on any Houston area Shaolin schools? I live in The Woodlands if that makes a difference on recommendations.

    I did northern mantis for nearly 10 years. The Shaolin school would mostly be for my teenage son and perhaps my 5yr old if they offer kids classes. I may join as well depending on the environment and schedule.
    Last edited by XaeroR35; 03-11-2013 at 08:58 AM.

  2. #2
    What are you looking to get into?
    Traditional? Contemporary long fist? Sparring.Sanda?

    There are 5 schools in houston that I know of, know 4 of them personally.

    Shi De Shan

    Shi Xing Hao

    Shi Xing Ying

    Shi Yan Feng

    and there is one in Katy, but I dont know of them or been there...a quick google search should land u information regarding these schools....

    its been over 6-8 years since I trained with these monks, so I probably cannot give any information regarding their classs size or how their class is even ran now or the environment of the school. but each of these masters do have their own specialty! and are all unique with different personalities!
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  3. #3
    Traditional with sparring would most interest me, as well as a solid kids progame (5yr old). My teenager is getting into Buddhism, so any that promote and/or teach it would be a plus. I will do some Googling, but was hoping to run across some active students of these schools.

    Katy would be much too far of a drive for me, so that one is out.

  4. #4
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    The Katy Kungfu school is on South Mason and on the web as http://www.shaolinlohancenter.com/

  5. #5
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    Yan Feng

    Nice article on an old friend.

    A warrior monk makes Houston home
    By Dylan Baddour, Houston Chronicle January 21, 2017 Updated: January 21, 2017 6:26pm


    Shi Yan Feng, pictured here at Eldride Park in Sugar Land on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016, was raised in China's Shaolin temple, where he mastered the intricate tradition of Shaolin kung fu. His skills took him around the world and eventually to Greater Houston, where he started two schools and a family. Click through the slideshow to see images of Shaolin kung fu and the temple where Feng grew up. Photo: Houston Chronicle / 2016 Houston Chronicle
    Photo: Houston Chronicle

    Shi Yan Feng closes his eyes and breathes deeply with ancient form. His palms rise face up on the inhale, then fall slowly, face down, on opposite sides of his torso then stretch straight upwards, summoning an energy that will make his body hard.

    He finishes, picks up two iron planks, clanks them together to prove they are real. He focuses silently for 30 seconds, leaps into the air and smashes the metal on his forehead. The planks crack and pieces go flying. His head is unmarked.

    It's a skill the 29-year-old has mastered over almost his entire life, beginning at age four when he was sent off to become a warrior monk at the Shaolin temple outside the ancient Chinese city of Dengfeng where he grew up, and ending here at a park in Sugar Land where he now teaches kung fu.

    The discipline has taken him from the ancient Chinese temple through the capitals of Europe and finally to the United states and the swampy suburb of Sugar Land where he found love, and then prosperity with two Shaolin kung fu schools and a community of students he calls his "kung fu family."

    It has become a powerful ally, powering most of his accomplishments.

    "It is a way of life," said Feng, 29, with a placid smile. "This is something I think the world needs."

    He wasn't always known as Shi Yan Feng. He was called Yuan Xiao Feng when, at four years old, he stood on the concrete of Dengfeng's public square and exhibited his kung fu forms for an audience of hundreds at a citywide tournament in 1992.

    He came from a kung fu family. His grandfather and great-grandfather were Shaolin masters, and his uncle began to teach him kung fu stretches when Feng was three years old. He won first place in his section of the tournament. When the supervising masters discovered Feng's family connection, they invited him to the temple.

    With his parents' permission, he traveled 30 minutes out of Dengfeng, a city known for its array of ancient spiritual monuments, to the Shaolin temple near the base of the sacred Mount Song. There he became the youngest of the Shaolin warrior monks, an age-old order of temple defenders who spend days in martial meditation then sleep on hard cots in stone quarters without electricity. A representative of the temple confirmed Feng's identity by email.


    Photo: Jeremy Horner, Getty Images Photo: Jeremy Horner, Getty Images
    The Shaolin Temple in Henan province, China

    He awoke at 5 a.m. to run five to ten miles up and down surrounding mountains, sometimes crawling down on hands and knees. Then there was mediation, stretching, kicking and breathing, then breakfast. The monks farm their own food.

    Feng practiced hours of repetitive motion, or performed forms while balancing atop tall wooden posts. He hardened his head, neck, abdomen and more by beating them until they grew strong enough to repel metal. He ran sprints down a narrow winding brick ridge, threw sewing needles through glass and pondered Buddhist philosophy.

    The regimens were prescribed by Feng's master, Shi Wan Heng, who also taught kung fu movie star Jet Li. Because of Feng's age, he parted with the older monks come nightfall; while they practiced deeper meditation, he studied history, math and Chinese language with his master.

    Watch Feng perform with his master at age 6:


    xxx

    In 1995, the Shaolin temple celebrated its 1,500th anniversary. Dengfeng officials decided Shaolin kung fu should be exhibited outside of China for the first time as a ploy to boost local tourism. They tapped Austrian tour producer Herbert Fechter to make it happen. When he made the trip from Vienna to the monastery later that year, Fechter said the revelation hit him "like a stroke."

    "This is something that the Western world is striving for, to get outer strength from inner peace," Fechter, now 70, recalled thinking. "The Western world is longing for answers to questions which these Chinese monks have already solved for themselves."

    Fecther assembled a program that would tell the story of Shaolin kung fu, interspersed with demonstrations.

    Feng, then seven, was the youngest monk on the tour roster, and he got his own page in the tour catalog. One photo shows Feng looking deadly serious, dressed in orange robes and sitting on a stone bench beside his master, then 78.


    Photo: Houston Chronicle / 2016 Houston Chronicle Photo: Houston Chronicle A promotional catalog for the 1996 tour of Shaolin kung fu features a page dedicated to Feng, then six, and his master, then 78.

    With the tour, Feng left the mountainous cradle of Chinese civilization and saw the cities of the world. He performed in Vienna, New York, London, Johannesburg, Tokyo, Moscow, Rome, Seoul and more. The monks toured the U.S. by bus for one month. Feng sometimes took four flights a day, traveling Europe to appear in TV promotions. The bright lights dazzled, and Feng imagined leaving his home at the temple, but he was always glad to return. He spent several months of each year on tour.

    During that time, Fechter said Feng "became a real, real friend" who would play with his own young son George, even though they shared no common language.

    WHAT IS SHAOLIN KUNG FU?

    "Kung fu" translates roughly to "achievement through meticulous effort," and is the name given informally to virtually any Chinese style of martial arts.

    Shaolin kung fu is the most famous, and arguably the most complex, of countless styles of Chinese martial arts.

    The Shaolin Monastery began in Central China in the Fifth Century CE, founded by an Indian missionary helping spread Buddhist philosophy.

    Decades later, another Indian missionary found the Shaolin monks in poor health from their lifestyle of sedentary meditation, so he meditated for nine years in a nearby cave then conceived a series of enlightened exercises.

    Monks soon blended the exercises with local styles of self-defense, then dedicated their lives to perfecting Shaolin kung fu.

    Generations of monks refined and expanded the system, creating an enormous virtual library of complex styles and mystical techniques.

    Shaolin kung fu attained international fame in the late 20th Century, largely through proliferation of kung fu cinema, and today tourism has severely degraded peace and serenity at the monastery.
    "The comparison to a child in the Western culture was unbelievable. He had so much discipline. He had so much concentration. He had so much fun and pride to present what he did," Fechter said. "What a level of inner peace he had already reached at his young age."

    Meanwhile, Feng's training continued. To master Shaolin kung fu, disciples must teach it. That is what they do for the steady stream of martial arts enthusiasts who travel from all over the world to train for one week at the Shaolin temple. Feng instructed the kung fu pilgrims, and by age 11 he had certifiably mastered Shaolin Kung Fu. So he became Shi Yan Feng, or Master Feng.

    xxx
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  6. #6
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    Continued from previous post

    Shaolin masters commonly go abroad to staff kung fu schools, the temple said. In 2002, a request came in for a teacher in Houston, and the temple handed it to Feng. With his parents' permission, he traveled to Texas to teach at the Houston Shaolin Temple school in Bellaire as the third Shaolin master in Houston.

    Word that a real Shaolin warrior monk was coming to Houston spread, reaching San Antonio, where 21-year-old Natasha Castillo practiced a mixture of martial arts with a small group. They made the trip to Feng's welcome party, and saw him perform. He was 15, masquerading as 17 for credibility's sake.

    "He was just mesmerizing. You'd sit there and watch him and go into a trance," she said.

    Castillo decided she'd keep coming back to Houston to train, once or twice a month, whenever she could. Initially, Feng would "just yell at us in Chinese," she said. But the lessons made sense without talking. Meanwhile, Feng was building vocabulary and learning to speak English from the youngest children he taught.

    Castillo lost touch with Feng around 2006 her boyfriend in San Antonio didn't like her traveling to see the young monk so much. Rumor among her friends was that Feng liked her.

    Feng, for his part, found life stifling with no car and basically no friends. He missed running up mountains. He was also having visa problems. When it came time to renew his R1 religious visa, an attorney informed him that the kung fu school wouldn't meet the criteria for religious sponsorship.

    He wouldn't be able to legally work there anymore. He had no money, spoke little English, and didn't really understand what was happening.

    When Feng left the school, his students bemoaned the loss of their instructor. So Feng continued lessons in Sugar Land's Eldridge Park with about 30 students. That, he said, was more authentic anyway. Real Shaolin kung fu is practiced outdoors because "you must feel the Earth."

    He eventually got a position teaching kung fu at a local Vietnamese Buddhist temple, which would sponsor his visa, but his attorney Helene Dang, had another idea.

    After interviewing Feng in 2008, she said, "we were like, 'whoa, you're quite unique.' So we proposed the option for him."

    The option was a rare EB-1 visa for "aliens with extraordinary abilities."


    "In order to qualify for extraordinary ability you have to be acclaimed internationally as top in your field," said Dang, a partner at Foster Global. "It's higher than exceptional. It's higher than outstanding. It's pretty much the hardest (visa) to get."

    They compiled letters of reference from martial arts masters inside and outside the U.S., then gathered record of Feng's awards and the acclaim for the performances he'd given. The papers were filed, and Feng became a permanent resident, then several years later a U.S. citizen. Dang said that because EB-1 visas are "given the highest preference" in the immigration system, there is "essentially no wait time."

    xxx

    In San Antonio, Castillo's accounting job fell to the Great Recession in 2009. Freshly single, unemployed and stressed, she figured it was time to resume training. After a few phone calls to fellow martial arts enthusiasts, she got Feng's number.

    She told him she wanted to train again. He asked if she had a boyfriend. She said no. He told her he was going to China later that year, would she like to come for a backstage view of the temple? Castillo had dreamed of China ever since meeting Feng. She said maybe. He invited her to stop by for training, and the next day she drove to Houston.

    "But he didn't want to train me," she said. "He just wanted to take me out to dinner."
    Within a month, Castillo found an accounting job in Houston and rented an apartment. She went with Feng to China later that year, saw the temple and met his family. By 2010 they were talking about marriage, and Castillo had to explain the American traditions of engagement rings and proposals.

    Photo: Natasha Yuan Photo: Natasha Yuan Shi Yan Feng with his wife Natasha Yuan, their daughter Alina and son Henry.

    They got married in Dengfeng in 2011. Castillo, who would soon make Chinese her fourth language, became Natasha Yuan, taking Feng's pre-master name, and the local news station came by to cover the warrior monk and his American bride.

    Yuan's parents had initially protested, she said. Her father wanted her to "stay within her race," but he gave in once the marriage seemed inevitable. The couple held an American wedding in San Antonio in 2012, and Yuan's parent's warmed to Feng.

    "They no longer saw him as the warrior monk, they got to know him as a person," she said.

    At the same time, his school, American Shaolin Kung Fu, was growing. It had started in 2008, when Feng, then 21, wanted a place to practice with the students he was training in Eldridge Park. So just down the road he rented a unit in a small strip center, across the parking lot from a Vietnamese noodle house. He never advertised, he said, but word spread and students asked to sign up. One hundred had enrolled by 2009.

    By 2011, the school needed another instructor. Feng sent for his younger brother, then an 18-year-old master in the Shaolin temple. He took over a second school in Bellaire in 2014.

    By that time, Feng and Yuan had a baby boy, Henry. Then a girl, Alina, came in 2015, and that year Feng's parents made a months-long visit to see the life he'd made with kung fu in America. They were very proud, he said.

    xxx

    On a recent Tuesday night, Feng led a class in his Sugar Land school. At his command, about 20 students in the advanced children's class lined up and performed fast-paced techniques across the length of the gym, then performed a series of 30-second long sequences of motion.

    A few times, Feng used his hands to adjust a student's posture or guide their arms through motion. Otherwise, he barked "stronger," "try harder" and other motivators.

    Shi Yan Feng, master at the American Shaolin Kung Fu school, presiding over rank advancement on Saturday December 17, 2016 Photo: Jamaal Ellis J.vince Photography, For The Chronicle / 2016 Photo: Jamaal Ellis J.vince Photography, For The Chronicle Shi Yan Feng, master at the American Shaolin Kung Fu school, presiding over rank advancement on Saturday December 17, 2016
    He reminded the students that rank testing was Saturday and they'd be breaking wooden boards, then he called an adult forward to hold out a board.

    "Breaking boards is easy," he said, casually tossing a fist through the plank. "But we are testing your skill. How do you control your powers?"

    The helper held a board anew, and Feng snapped his knuckles to its surface and split the wood without passing through.

    "Show that it is an art," he said.
    I wrote an article on him in our JULY+AUGUST 2004 issue: Little Monk All Grown Up: Houston's Shi Yanfeng
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  7. #7
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    Anyone from Houston accessing our forum now?

    I imagine our forum is a pretty low priority but if anyone knows what's going on with Harvey and the Houston Shaolin schools, we'd love to hear.

    Our thoughts are with them.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  8. #8
    Hi Gene!

    Unfortunately, I do not really keep in touch with my sifus nor the shaolin scene much anymore in Houston sadly to say.
    But my neighborhood is safe and no flooding yet.
    It has been non stop rain since Thursday/Friday pretty much.
    Houston is pretty much shut down and majority of things are closed for rest of the week.

    as far as Shifu De shan, Xing Ying, and Xing Hao school. The physical school. I do not think it got flooded, as I saw pictures and videos of those areas and it seem fine. Only flooding on the street but driveable. Now if their roof collapse or leaked than I don;t know. Shifu Shao Feng has 2 schools now. I am unsure of those areas. The Katy Shaolin Monk, I do not know at all....so...ya

    Thanks for checking in!
    Teo Chew Association: Unicorn Dragon and Lion Dance Team
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    United States Dragon & Lion Dance Federation
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  9. #9
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    Yanfeng posted on facebook.

    Shi Yan Feng
    11 hrs
    Dear parents and students.
    Due to the catastrophic Hurricane Harvey, some schools will be closed until September 11, 2017 and many parents must return to work.
    American Shaolin Kungfu School Sugar Land will offer FREE Daycare for our current students. Please have prepared lunch for your children. American Shaolin Kungfu School will not provide meals for your child. FREE Daycare will start on September 04, 2017 through September 08, 2017; from 9:00 a.m. To 4:00 p.m.
    American Shaolin Kungfu School respectfully wish to help all in need during this tragic time. There will not be any fees for this daycare program. However, we deeply encourage everyone to make donations in any amount of money so we can help the victims of Hurricane Harvey.
    Please contact American Shaolin Kungfu School Sugar Land and reserve space for your child.
    Please help us help others in need. We thank you for your kindness and contributions.
    For more on how Harvey has affected our community, see also Looking For Wing Chun Schools in Houston
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  10. #10
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    Houston survived

    Checking in a little late here but to the best of my knowledge the Shaolin Schools survived the great flood. It was mainly the areas that backed up to bayous, levees, and the dams that really got flooded.

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