Kung Fu Master in Chengdu
Anyone with a little knowledge of martial arts (or Jackie Chan) will have heard the term Kung Fu, or 功夫 gōngfu before. The hand-to-hand combat style often mimics animal postures and involves training inspired by Chinese philosophy. In the West, the term Kung Fu describes a Chinese fighting style, but originally it refers to the act of studying and learning with diligence, effort and patience.
Learning Kung Fu is nothing for the faint of heart. So I’ve heard. Nevertheless, last weekend we decided to give it a shot, for a 90 min taster session of the legendary art.
We started off with some simple (and quick) stretches and warm-up exercises – neck, shoulders, legs, you know the drill. Then we learnt how to form a fist and a palm correctly and how to hold a simple fighting stance. Don’t forget to look angry, eyes burning with fury!
By this point I began to feel a slight burn in my thighs but it was still bearable. It was what came next that sent my muscles screaming for the next few days…
We practiced a few different kicks (trying to hit your head with your toe, or your outstretched right hand with your left foot with a painful swing), followed by various stances and crouches. Half an hour into the class we were already sweating.
After our warm up and introduction, the master gave us an incredible demonstration of two styles of Kung Fu we could learn: Shaolin quan 少林拳 and Baji quan 八極拳. Shaolin quan, developed in the Tang dynasty, served as a defensive art for the Shaolin monastery. Slightly less explosive than Baji quan, we picked Shaolin quan to learn.
The consecutive moves that took us an hour to learn came to about five seconds at normal speed. Remembering the steps was tough, but getting them right was an art altogether.
Even so, by the end of the class, each one of us was able to demonstrate them in front of the group, mostly without mistakes.
Despite the muscle pain we were all complaining about the next day, it was an exciting and fun activity, one we will most definitely try to keep up!