I (peter geedicke) trained here in the Shaolin school for 6 months, from nasty heat to cold monkey temperatures. so I can say that I experienced all weather characteristics that influence the daily training. (including one week high water, approx. 20 centimeters.) whereby the winter with snow and cold is the worst. you are always freezing!
to the training: the “normal” training, with trainer, is about 6 hours a day, 6 days a week, but you can extend it by your own training in the evening or instead of resting in the long 2 one and a half hour lunch break to about 8 hours. is trained only in foreigner groups of about 6 people. so the training can be better adjusted to each individual. in the morning at 6-7:30 a.m. the first training session starts, then breakfast break until 9:20 a.m. the second training session ends at 11:30 a.m., the following lunch break ends at 2 p.m. and the third training session is over at 5:30 p.m.
dinner until 6:30 p.m. and afterwards another hour until 7:40 p.m. evening training. all kinds of wushu (kungfu) kicks, jumps, punchs, strokes, acrobatics and all kinds of movement sequences are trained which you have seen from the martial art movies before. in addition, every month a new weapon or fist-form is added. (e.g. stick, saebel, sword, spear, 9-section, tiger, eagle, shaolin, wushu form, southernfist…) 2 times a week there is also sanda, the chinese form of kickboxing on the timetable. this is actually the only opportunity to really start with your fists and feet on each other, or the sandbag. in addition, 2 times a week taiji is taught. ok, also here you sometimes have the possibility to compete in the taiji-fight with the others. but you should be there a bit longer, because it can easily come to injuries here.
at the moment only the taiji-cheng-style is taught here in school, but that’s excellent. with a lot of variety like pushing-hand, different taiji-faust, sword-, saebel-, spear-forms you won’t get bored here. there’s enough to learn anyway.
the accommodation, with 2 man rooms, air conditioning and private bathroom (incl. always cold water) is quite spartan, but compared to the chinese fellow students luxerioes. warm water can also be obtained here in the school at an extra boiler and public mass showers are also available. so it could all be much worse, possibly on a mountain without everything in an old draughty monastery in complete seclusion. for those who need and looking for something like this will not be happy here. The school is located on the outskirts of the 6 mio. city of zhengzhou. although it is surrounded by lots of rice and lotus fields and to the city center it is about 20 minutes by taxi, but still life around it is quite medieval and very provincial in comparison to beijing and shanghai a completely different world.
free time: every sunday and thursday morning is free (the 2nd training). during this time you can just make new and relax or go to the city to explore the chinese city life or quickly eat at macdonalds and pizza-company nen bissen western food. depending on what you like. from the school an excursion is organized almost monthly (all foreigners together). (well, mostly well organized) i was a few times in shaolin (dengfeng) to visit the temple and the pagoda forest. in kaifeng, the next bigger city, a leisure park and temple visit and in luoyang to the longmen grottos. the trips always lasted one day and were like class trips i.e. a lot of fun and a welcome change to the hard training everyday life.
all in all, my time here was flying by. i learned things from which i didn’t even know that i could do such things. (back somersault from standing, throwing a needle through glass and many other wonderful things) the shifus are anxious to teach you all kinds of things, and of course I also had a main ship with which I had spent most of the day. the relationship is tense during the training and you don’t understand fun, but after that you fool around all the more. since actually all shifus speak english more or less well, the communication is not problematic either. but if you are able to speak chinese, the communication is of course easier. moreover, as a kind of translator, you are automatically lent to everybody who needs help or can’t understand the chinese. (…it’s great to be needed everywhere, but sometimes it can be quite exhausting…) well, finally it’s only possible to say, if I ever have so much time and money left I’ll come back again.
But first of all, from the realm of the middle back to the land of limited possibilities.
Peter Geedicke from Germany