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Thread: In Kunming

  1. #1
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    In Kunming

    Hi all. Just want to say hi. I've been in Kunming, Yunnan, China now for about 12 days. I've been crazy busy and haven't had any time to read the forum, and I probably won't for a couple more weeks, but I thought I'd let you all know I'm still around.

    Life is pretty good in Kunming. If you know the right place to eat it's possible to have a really good meal (and not get sick) for as little as one dollar. And a lot of the time the sky is even blue! Amazing. Very glad I know people here though, it would be very difficult without guidance.

    Only had time to go to two kung fu classes so far, and also train in the park two mornings... Mostly I've seen just taichi and bagua, and mostly only solo training, but there are some people in the park with very good kung fu, whether or not they can fight.

    Anyway, it's a great experience. It's great to be able to bring my kung fu to China and discover that it's better than a LOT of the Chinese practitioners, though in some ways that's disappointing also. I'll keep looking for the good stuff in my spare time...if I ever get any.

    Wish you all the best. Don't let the trolls get you down. Peace.

  2. #2
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    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.
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    Cool ShaolinDan!

    If you have the time, check out the Shaolin temples in Kunming. We'd love to get a 1st hand report on them.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  3. #3
    Who are you there with?

  4. #4
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    Grand Rapids, MI
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    Have a great time, look forward to your report!
    "The true meaning of a given movement in a form is not its application, but rather the unlimited potential of the mind to provide muscular and skeletal support for that movement." Gregory Fong

  5. #5
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    Aug 2010
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    Thanks for the good wishes.
    I'm here with my uncle and my new aunt (he recently married an English teacher from Kunming). They just opened a private language school.
    It's going to be a long time until I have enough free time to travel--there's so much to do for the new school, but I certainly intend to visit at least one of the Shaolin Franchise temples. (Also, I'll try to find the Kingdom of The Little People and get some photos for you, Gene.)

  6. #6
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    Kung fu in Kunming

    Apologies for such a long post, trying to cram several weeks into one post. Anyway, as with the ISDFR thread, no one is under any obligation to read.

    The good news is there is no shortage of excellent taichi here. Every morning the parks are full of people practicing tai chi and qigong. And while much of it is just okay, some of the taichi is really fantastic. The bad news, is that I'm really not interested in studying taichi at this point in my kung fu career. For now I'm completely content to just practice the silk reeling, qigong, and 18 movement form that I've learned from my Shifu. Still, I do enjoy watching it, and it's very inspiring to see so many very old practitioners doing their thing.

    There is definitely more than just taichi out here, but it's a very small percentage. The other big styles here appear to be bagua and tongbei/tongbi, there is also a little bit of Shaolin and modern wushu, but not as much. While I've seen some good practitioners, for the most part they are only the teachers--their students have mostly been very unimpressive.

    There are also a lot of solo practitioners who just seem to practice on there own. Again, nothing very impressive, but it's still inspiring to be surrounded by kung fu. I frequently see people doing qigong at the bus stop, or striking their own arms as they walk down the street.

    The bad news is that outside of the Sanda class at my current school (which I can't join because it's barefoot only--I need arch support), I've seen almost zero partner practice, pad/bag work, and physical conditioning practice. I've also seen almost no weapons work outside of the taichi sword. It's almost all solo hand forms in the air. Even the Sanda class is disappointing--they do some good pad drills and a decent amount of physical conditioning, but they don't do anything we don't do at my school back home, and their workout is good, but does not even begin to compare to a tough class with my Shifu. What's even worse is so far, I have only seen them practicing striking skills, I've yet to see any throwing or falling being trained. Furthermore, while some of them have very impressive roundhouse kicks, even the best students have an absolutely pathetic jab/cross combination--frankly their punching skills are awful.

    There are a number of different kung fu schools, as well as classes in the parks, that I will continue to check out. Perhaps eventually I will find an instructor that I am really happy with, but so far my scouting has not turned up anything I prefer to the school I'm currently enrolled at.

    I did train for a couple of mornings with a group in the park right near my house. They come from a Shaolin school in the city, however, the school is on the outskirts and would be a very long commute for me. They demonstrated several weapons forms for me, as well as bagua taichi. The taichi was very very good, but the weapons work was just okay. Still the staff forms looked like good practical and traditional Shaolin. Using my aunt as a translator I told them I was not interested in learning taichi, but would like to learn staff with them. They invited me to come to the park to train with them five days a week from 6:30 am until 9:30 am. Unfortunately when I came to train with them it turned out that the short angry looking guy was the instructor (several of them were very nice and friendly), and that he insisted on me training qigong and bagua taichi instead of the staff work. I probably could have gotten very good at bagua taichi training with him, his taichi was excellent and he was a very tough instructor (made me use VERY low stances, and insisted I do twenty minutes of qigong and twenty minutes of standing post every morning), however, as I mentioned, I don't want to study taichi right now, and also with a training regimen like that I would have no time or energy left to keep up on the skills I've already learned. Finally, to top it all off, the guy was always scowling...I never saw him smile once. In the end I told him I preferred to practice what I've already learned and gave him a small amount of money for the time he'd spent on me. He took the money, counted it and then waved me away--never said a word. Good riddance, I guess.

    One morning, while I was across the street from this park, waiting for my aunt to run an errand at the bank, I did see a group I thought I'd really like to train with. I'm almost certain they were doing Shaolin style, and what really sold me was that they were spending a fair amount of the class actually training with partners. They seemed to have a few different instructors (it was a big group) and their kung fu looked pretty solid. Some of the students looked pretty good too--they were certainly training hard. The instructors all had shaved heads--I suspect they are 'monks' from the Shaolin Temple Franchise just outside of Kunming. I have not made it to the local franchise yet, but it's on my list of things to do. (I'm sure it is both too far and too expensive to train at regularly, but it will be cool to visit.) Unfortunately I have yet to find this group again, but I will continue to look for it.

    Finally, on to my current school and style: The school I'm enrolled at appears to be the best known school in Kunming, which is the capitol and biggest city of Yunnan province, so I guess it is maybe the most famous school in all Yunnan, though I'm not really sure about that. It does however have a few groups of foreigners who come for a week or two to train every year (mostly bagua, I think), so it is certainly known. It's headed by the 'famous' Sha Jun Jie, son of the VERY famous (at least locally, supposedly internationally) Sha Guozheng (now deceased). Sha Guozeng was a wushu coach for many years and is supposed to be internationally famous for combining taichi, bagua, xing yi, and tong bei into the Sha family kung fu style. There are some videos on youtube (which I can't watch here) of Sha Jun Jie and some of his students performing kung fu. Sha Jun Jie is certainly skilled, though it appears that he almost never teaches anymore.

    The styles offered at Sha's school are bagua, taichi, xing yi, tong bei, sanda, and also modern wushu just for the kids class. The kids' instructor has some really good wushu kung fu, very impressive, it's really fun to watch him demonstrating for the kids. I've already talked about the sanda there (mostly taught by Sha Jun Jie's son), so I'll move on to the traditional stuff. Most of the students are studying taichi and bagua, some of them are pretty good, and the teachers are all very good (though quite old), but again, it's all solo forms work--pretty, but useless without the other parts of the training. A few people are studying xing yi, and only a couple (myself included) are studying tong bei.

    The school is in an enormous gymnasium. Classes are informal and everyone trains at once. The teachers--there are always several--wander around from group to group teaching for a few minutes and then moving on. Most nights I'm the only one studying tong bei, and the others who do are training completely different skills, so I'm always on my own. In an hour and a half class, I will get an average of ten minutes instruction and the rest of the time I practice on my own.

    The first night I went in there I did not know whether I wanted to study sanda, tong bei, or xing yi. Sanda was eliminated immediately because of the barefoot thing. At first it seemed that the instructors preferred to teach me xing yi to tong bei (no one was willing to demonstrate tong bei for me), but after warming up for a while, Sha Jun Jie's older sister said that because of my long arms (and I suspect because she saw I did know a little something after all) she would teach me the tong bei style which was based on a long armed ape. So, now I am training three nights a week, in the basics of the tong bei style, as well as going to the park in the morning as often as I can manage to keep up on my old material.

    Thanks to this website I was able to find out a lot about tong bei/tongbi despite my lack of Chinese, thank you once again KFMF. So far I have only learned some basic exercises. In some ways this is just fine, it allows me time to practice what I already know and still be able to keep up with the new material I'm getting. I am happy with the style. It is definitely in the long fist family, but with a different flavor than anything I've learned yet--a good compliment to my Shaolin/Eagle Claw base. there are a lot of swinging arms and a lot of striking ones own body, which is cool--I get to train iron palm/body at the same time as I practice my techniques. My classmates are nice and friendly, and are very complimentary about my kung fu, and Sha Laoshi is always smiling and laughing--especially when I make a mistake, but this is much better than scowling/growling.

    I just wish I had some partners to train with. I can practice my chinna and throwing in the air, but it just isn't the same. Being here has really helped me to realize what a good thing I had going back in Western MA. This trip will look great on my kung fu resume, but I really miss my school back home.

    Well, I doubt anyone will get through this whole post, but if you do, thanks for reading and I hope I didn't bore you to death.

  7. #7
    HI Dan, Not boring at all. Very interesting. Please continue to share when you have the chance!

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Location
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.
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    44,282

    Keep 'em coming, Dan

    Nice to get some 'live' reports from your journey. Still eager to get some reports from the Guandu Shaolin Temples in Kunming. If you go, PM me - I might have something for you.

    Quote Originally Posted by ShaolinDan View Post
    Thanks to this website I was able to find out a lot about tong bei/tongbi despite my lack of Chinese, thank you once again KFMF.
    This is very gratifying to hear. Thanks for that.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShaolinDan View Post
    Apologies for such a long post, trying to cram several weeks into one post. Anyway, as with the ISDFR thread, no one is under any obligation to read.

    The good news is there is no shortage of excellent taichi here. Every morning the parks are full of people practicing tai chi and qigong. And while much of it is just okay, some of the taichi is really fantastic. The bad news, is that I'm really not interested in studying taichi at this point in my kung fu career. For now I'm completely content to just practice the silk reeling, qigong, and 18 movement form that I've learned from my Shifu. Still, I do enjoy watching it, and it's very inspiring to see so many very old practitioners doing their thing.

    There is definitely more than just taichi out here, but it's a very small percentage. The other big styles here appear to be bagua and tongbei/tongbi, there is also a little bit of Shaolin and modern wushu, but not as much. While I've seen some good practitioners, for the most part they are only the teachers--their students have mostly been very unimpressive.

    There are also a lot of solo practitioners who just seem to practice on there own. Again, nothing very impressive, but it's still inspiring to be surrounded by kung fu. I frequently see people doing qigong at the bus stop, or striking their own arms as they walk down the street.

    The bad news is that outside of the Sanda class at my current school (which I can't join because it's barefoot only--I need arch support), I've seen almost zero partner practice, pad/bag work, and physical conditioning practice. I've also seen almost no weapons work outside of the taichi sword. It's almost all solo hand forms in the air. Even the Sanda class is disappointing--they do some good pad drills and a decent amount of physical conditioning, but they don't do anything we don't do at my school back home, and their workout is good, but does not even begin to compare to a tough class with my Shifu. What's even worse is so far, I have only seen them practicing striking skills, I've yet to see any throwing or falling being trained. Furthermore, while some of them have very impressive roundhouse kicks, even the best students have an absolutely pathetic jab/cross combination--frankly their punching skills are awful.

    There are a number of different kung fu schools, as well as classes in the parks, that I will continue to check out. Perhaps eventually I will find an instructor that I am really happy with, but so far my scouting has not turned up anything I prefer to the school I'm currently enrolled at.

    I did train for a couple of mornings with a group in the park right near my house. They come from a Shaolin school in the city, however, the school is on the outskirts and would be a very long commute for me. They demonstrated several weapons forms for me, as well as bagua taichi. The taichi was very very good, but the weapons work was just okay. Still the staff forms looked like good practical and traditional Shaolin. Using my aunt as a translator I told them I was not interested in learning taichi, but would like to learn staff with them. They invited me to come to the park to train with them five days a week from 6:30 am until 9:30 am. Unfortunately when I came to train with them it turned out that the short angry looking guy was the instructor (several of them were very nice and friendly), and that he insisted on me training qigong and bagua taichi instead of the staff work. I probably could have gotten very good at bagua taichi training with him, his taichi was excellent and he was a very tough instructor (made me use VERY low stances, and insisted I do twenty minutes of qigong and twenty minutes of standing post every morning), however, as I mentioned, I don't want to study taichi right now, and also with a training regimen like that I would have no time or energy left to keep up on the skills I've already learned. Finally, to top it all off, the guy was always scowling...I never saw him smile once. In the end I told him I preferred to practice what I've already learned and gave him a small amount of money for the time he'd spent on me. He took the money, counted it and then waved me away--never said a word. Good riddance, I guess.

    One morning, while I was across the street from this park, waiting for my aunt to run an errand at the bank, I did see a group I thought I'd really like to train with. I'm almost certain they were doing Shaolin style, and what really sold me was that they were spending a fair amount of the class actually training with partners. They seemed to have a few different instructors (it was a big group) and their kung fu looked pretty solid. Some of the students looked pretty good too--they were certainly training hard. The instructors all had shaved heads--I suspect they are 'monks' from the Shaolin Temple Franchise just outside of Kunming. I have not made it to the local franchise yet, but it's on my list of things to do. (I'm sure it is both too far and too expensive to train at regularly, but it will be cool to visit.) Unfortunately I have yet to find this group again, but I will continue to look for it.

    Finally, on to my current school and style: The school I'm enrolled at appears to be the best known school in Kunming, which is the capitol and biggest city of Yunnan province, so I guess it is maybe the most famous school in all Yunnan, though I'm not really sure about that. It does however have a few groups of foreigners who come for a week or two to train every year (mostly bagua, I think), so it is certainly known. It's headed by the 'famous' Sha Jun Jie, son of the VERY famous (at least locally, supposedly internationally) Sha Guozheng (now deceased). Sha Guozeng was a wushu coach for many years and is supposed to be internationally famous for combining taichi, bagua, xing yi, and tong bei into the Sha family kung fu style. There are some videos on youtube (which I can't watch here) of Sha Jun Jie and some of his students performing kung fu. Sha Jun Jie is certainly skilled, though it appears that he almost never teaches anymore.

    The styles offered at Sha's school are bagua, taichi, xing yi, tong bei, sanda, and also modern wushu just for the kids class. The kids' instructor has some really good wushu kung fu, very impressive, it's really fun to watch him demonstrating for the kids. I've already talked about the sanda there (mostly taught by Sha Jun Jie's son), so I'll move on to the traditional stuff. Most of the students are studying taichi and bagua, some of them are pretty good, and the teachers are all very good (though quite old), but again, it's all solo forms work--pretty, but useless without the other parts of the training. A few people are studying xing yi, and only a couple (myself included) are studying tong bei.

    The school is in an enormous gymnasium. Classes are informal and everyone trains at once. The teachers--there are always several--wander around from group to group teaching for a few minutes and then moving on. Most nights I'm the only one studying tong bei, and the others who do are training completely different skills, so I'm always on my own. In an hour and a half class, I will get an average of ten minutes instruction and the rest of the time I practice on my own.

    The first night I went in there I did not know whether I wanted to study sanda, tong bei, or xing yi. Sanda was eliminated immediately because of the barefoot thing. At first it seemed that the instructors preferred to teach me xing yi to tong bei (no one was willing to demonstrate tong bei for me), but after warming up for a while, Sha Jun Jie's older sister said that because of my long arms (and I suspect because she saw I did know a little something after all) she would teach me the tong bei style which was based on a long armed ape. So, now I am training three nights a week, in the basics of the tong bei style, as well as going to the park in the morning as often as I can manage to keep up on my old material.

    Thanks to this website I was able to find out a lot about tong bei/tongbi despite my lack of Chinese, thank you once again KFMF. So far I have only learned some basic exercises. In some ways this is just fine, it allows me time to practice what I already know and still be able to keep up with the new material I'm getting. I am happy with the style. It is definitely in the long fist family, but with a different flavor than anything I've learned yet--a good compliment to my Shaolin/Eagle Claw base. there are a lot of swinging arms and a lot of striking ones own body, which is cool--I get to train iron palm/body at the same time as I practice my techniques. My classmates are nice and friendly, and are very complimentary about my kung fu, and Sha Laoshi is always smiling and laughing--especially when I make a mistake, but this is much better than scowling/growling.

    I just wish I had some partners to train with. I can practice my chinna and throwing in the air, but it just isn't the same. Being here has really helped me to realize what a good thing I had going back in Western MA. This trip will look great on my kung fu resume, but I really miss my school back home.

    Well, I doubt anyone will get through this whole post, but if you do, thanks for reading and I hope I didn't bore you to death.
    Yeah, real intersting bro. I read the whole thing, and enjoyed it.

  10. #10
    This is terribly late, but I was in Kun Ming for about a month, two years ago. Great city with very few westerners!

  11. #11
    Sounds like a great experience. Glad to hear it's going relatively well. Stay safe. Take as many pics as you can then share when you get time.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    New Zealand
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    182
    Thanks for sharing and all the best for the rest of your adventure! Yes, good to see you are focused on learning a few basic and practical things really well with good form and continually drilling them, since if you try to learn too much, it's too easy to forget stuff.
    Last edited by Sima Rong; 10-10-2012 at 06:48 PM.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
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    Western MA
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    Thanks a lot guys. I'm glad some of you enjoyed reading, I'll keep posting.

    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing View Post
    Nice to get some 'live' reports from your journey. Still eager to get some reports from the Guandu Shaolin Temples in Kunming. If you go, PM me - I might have something for you.

    This is very gratifying to hear. Thanks for that.
    Thank you, Gene. I'll definitely let you know when I get to the temple. It's just a matter of time, one of them is just a bus ride away.

    Actually found the Shaolin group I've been trying to find again this morning. After watching up close (I was across the street before), I decided I didn't really want to join them, although it was good to watch. The teachers are definitely not from the temple. They only trained for an hour, all basics...I don't really want to pay for a class that's mostly holding mabu and gongbu while doing basic block/strike combos. It's all stuff I know enough to do on my own for free.

    At the very end of the class they started doing some partner arm conditioning drills. I was there with my uncle and made the 'mistake' of showing him something similar we do in my school back home. Some of the guys training noticed and came over. Ended up knocking arms with a few of them for a while, and also caved in and demoed a form for them(twice). They were really nice, and were eager to have me join their class, but I guess I decided if I'm going to study in a class that's not as good as my class back home, I'm better off learning something new... I like the Tongbei/tongbi I'm learning a lot even if I'm not totally satisfied with the way it's taught. Maybe when my Chinese and my Tongbei improves I can find someone else in the class to practice with.

    Still, I'll go back and check the Shaolin group out again, they're right in the park I usually practice at, just later in the morning than I'm normally there. Very happy to 'exchange' with them if they want, but I'm not going to pay them for lessons... Now how do I say that in Chinese?

  14. #14
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    Great! I seem to have found a good training partner to work with here. Spent a couple hours both yesterday and today and it seems like it'll be a consistent thing.
    British guy my age who studies boxing, muay thai, a little BJJ, and Taiji, and has about 6" and 60lbs on me. It's such a relief to train with a real person again, I feel so much better.

  15. #15
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    Well, if nothing falls through I'll be be interviewing the head monk, Shi Yanbei at the Kunming Shaolin temples on Wednesday. Thanks for the hook up Gene!

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