Nora from Germany sharing her experience training at the Yuntai Mountain School in China.
Training at Yuntai shan International Culture and Martial Arts School
I spent 7 weeks at Yuntai Mountain school to learn Kung Fu. When I was there it was possible to choose between 3 groups: Tai Chi, Sanda and Kung Fu. We trained 6 days a week with half a day off on Wednesday, and the whole day off on Sunday where most of the students take the bus into the village or town to go to the supermarket, restaurants, shopping etc. I enjoyed every single day of my time here, living a simple and disciplined life. In general I am enjoying physical exercise and am not an office or ‘sitting on the couch’ person. I grew up close to the mountains and love hiking. I am very passionated about sports and have been running every second or third day for the past few years, combined with some abs and HIT cardio workouts. So when I saw the training schedule consisting of 8 hours of sports almost every day, I was just excited. Answering the question if I found the training too hard, I therefore say ‘no’. But it was definitely very different to what my body was used to, especially the acrobatic part. The first three days I had the muscle ache of my life, yes. I could barely walk, the upper legs were in flames, but that was due to the unknown basic Kung Fu positions, in which you go very low in some kind of squat position. After a couple of days my body got used to them and the muscle ache never came back this intensively. Apart from that, after 4 weeks I started to have some severe pain in my knees, coming from my flat feet and running on concrete for years, I suppose. That was very unfortunate, as I couldn’t do the moves 100% anymore, but every body is different. Stretching and warming up and especially taking it easy the first days of your arrival if you don’t have previous knowledge is the key. What I most enjoyed was the diversity of the training, so you don’t get bored. There is a certain routine, e.g. Tai Chi training three times a week, the option to pray in the Buddhism room every Saturday, Chi Gong every Friday morning, abs training every Wednesday, arms every Tuesday, bridge every Monday etc. But then training might consist of playing basketball, go running, work on Kung Fu forms with your weapons (in 7 weeks I learned two fist forms and completed a stick form), do acrobatics, and so on.
Yuan shifu, our Kung Fu trainer, and also the other shifus are great teachers and leaders, incredibly patient, and treating everybody equally, fair and with respect. The Kung Fu group was quite popular in the summer months (July to October) so if you prefer a more private and intense training and can stand the cold, maybe you want to come during the winter. The Sanda group never exceeded 5 people and with all the kicks and punches it’s definitely something I want to try next time, as I am very interested in self-defence.
The school cantine prepares three warm meals a day, which always consist of some kind of soup, vegetables and rice or Man Tous (chinese bread). For proteins and some diversity like chicken or egg wraps, you can go to the school’s ‘restaurant’ which is really good and cheap. Otherwise I recommend to buy salt or soy sauce or honey or whatever you need to pimp your food (there is the option to order glasses of Nutella, but it’s quite expensive, so come prepared if you’re a fan of chocolate).
Before I came, I only read positive feedbacks on the website and was a bit sceptic. But I honestly have nothing to criticize and can’t think of anyone who would I met here. I think you are already a special type of personality if you feel that Yuntai Mountain school in Henan is calling you, as it was calling me. The atmosphere here was great. There is a strong bond between the students, as you share sweat and tears, train together every day, see one another in the funniest positions, cheer on each other. During my stay there was a big German speaking community with some French and Thai people. But you meet all kind of like minded souls from different parts of the world, different age groups and ethnical backgrounds, and you can learn from everyone. And if you bring a board or card game or an instrument, some fun in the common room in the evenings is guaranteed.
To sum up, I had an amazing, unforgetable time. I learned a lot, and after 4 days of my arrival I already wanted time to slow down because I felt I wouldn’t have enough of it for being here. I hope to be back very soon.
Nora from Germany