Life at Yun Tai as a foreign student…
My first experience training Shaolin Kung Fu under Shi Yan Lin and Yuan Shifu was in my late twenties. In England I had trained in kickboxing and boxing but I had no experience of kung fu and couldn’t speak any Chinese. The first two weeks were really tough! Overtime however, my fitness, endurance, strength, flexibility and kung fu skills started to improve. With the encouragement of the other international students and my teacher I no longer felt like the ‘new person’ and was able to help others as they had helped me when I first arrived. The Chinese language lessons at the school really helped me to improve my communication skills and to be able to talk to locals at the nearby town and city. I even featured in a Chinese TV documentary about foreigners who came to train Shaolin Kung Fu in China!
After a serious car accident injuring my spine in my thirties I never dreamt I would be able to come back to China to train kung fu. Yet six years later I returned to China to spend 3 months at Yun Tai. My shifu helped me to adapt my training to work with my injuries which was a great help and kept me motivated and constantly learning. My flexibility greatly improved as did my confidence and belief in myself that I could still train to a good level. After a few weeks of being at the school my shifu told me about a big competition coming up and would I like to enter! I decided to have a go and started training intensely for the next month towards the competition. The opening ceremony held at the Shaolin Temple and the five days of competition with competitors from around the world was an amazing experience. I was very proud to win a silver medal in my category. The support and team spirit from the foreign and Chinese team at Yun Tai was phenomenal.
I am currently here at Yun Tai for the fourth time. It is great to train with some of the other returning students as well as meeting new students who are here for the first time. You soon fall back into the weekly routine here at the school as you continue to improve your kung fu skills and learn about Chinese culture.
I will definitely be back again for a fifth time next year to train at the school again and to participate in the competition. I look forward to catching up with old friends here and meeting new.
Advice I would give to new students would be to work on your basic fitness level before coming. Practice and improve your running and concentrate on developing your flexibility in advance as this will help you. Come with an open mind as Chinese culture is very different to Western culture so you will need to learn to adapt to living in a Chinese school.
Wendy from England