The Complete Guide About Learning Kung Fu in China

Learn Shaolin Kung Fu in China
This blog is for everyone thinking about going to China to train Kung Fu. It contains useful information about studying Kung Fu and traveling to China. I want to share my experience, to help others to choose the right school in China and thus to get the most out of their experience.

Since the day one of my friend’s told me about going to China to train a Kung Fu school I was sold!
It took me 5 years to finally make the time. Now back home I am very confident to say that so far it has been a unique, and one of the most important experiences in my life. This wouldn’t have been possible without staying at the right Kung Fu school with the right people. To choose the right Kung Fu school for you in China, you will have to do some basic research.

This blog will give you helpful information about learning Kung Fu in China and about the differences between the Kung Fu schools. It will help you choose the right school and prepare for your adventurous journey.


>> Click on the link If you want to go to the Homepage from Master Hu's school<<



Check my video about my Kung Fu journey at Master Hu's Kung Fu School


1. Choosing a Kung Fu School in China

  1. Picking a Kung Fu Style
  2. Choose here in China do you want to go
  3. seasons in China
  4. Bigger versus smaller schools
  5. Traditional versus Modern Chinese Kung Fu
  6. Kung Fu Masters 
  7. Food at the School

2. Preparing for your Kung Fu trip

  1. physical preparation for your Kung Fu journey
  2. What to pack?
  3. phonecard / internet

1. Choosing a Kung Fu School

Picking a Kung Fu Style

There are many distinct Kung Fu styles you can choose from. Such as Shaolin Wushu, Wing Chung or Tai Chji. Since I had little experience with Tai Chji and Shaolin Wushu I was doubting between those two. I decided to go with Shaolin Wushu since I guessed that you need a certain health condition to be able to train with Chinese students who practice Shaolin Kung Fu. And since I was still in reasonably good shape, I figured this would be my last chance to go. Later I will tell you more about my experience in training Shaolin Kung FU. If you do not know the differences between these styles, I suggest you study the styles on the internet. There are many good sources you can consult.


Choose where in China do you want to go

There are different areas in China for you to go to when you want to learn Kung Fu. You can go to a city, or go to an area which is famous for the particular Kung Fu style you choose. Some popular schools are located in an area where not many other schools are located. This is important to understand since, during my stay in China, several students from other schools shifted between schools because they did not like their school/training. I did not want to move to another school, because I loved mine.
Also keep in mind, that when needed it is definitely possible to travel to another region or area in China. Although, it was not something I admired to do.


Shaolin Kung Fu training in China
Foreign students training in Summer at Master Hu's school

Seasons in China

The seasons in China are very different from each other, and also influence the training. I stayed in China during the winter. For me it was good, but it can get very cold. On the opposite, in summer it can get really hot. In some places, it gets up to 40 degrees Celsius. Whenever you go, make sure to keep this in mind.
Most training is outside and rooms are not always isolated or ventilated. Electricity is expensive in China.

Cid Kung Fu in China
Student training in Winter at Master Hu's school

Bigger versus smaller Kung Fu schools

The preferences are personal of course, l but the differences between big or smaller Kung Fu schools are huge.
In general, in bigger Shaolin schools the classes are often also bigger (depending on the school). From what I experienced at my school is that at a smaller school, you really have a family-like feeling. After a short period of time, you feel like you know most people at the school. That really adds to the overall Kung Fu experience.
I am not sure how this works for bigger schools, but at our school, international students personally get invited by the Master. Such as, for tea ceremonies, dinner and he would check our training progress from time-to-time. From my experience, if you stay at a smaller school everyone at the school feels responsible for you and they will help you with everything you need.
One time I had a back injury and the family from the master took me to the doctor and made sure I was alright. Also, I had certain diet wishes, since I am a vegetarian. This was all not a problem, they even allowed me to cook my own meals in the kitchen if I wanted too. I am quite sure that at a bigger school certain things are more difficult to manage.
From what I have heard at the bigger New Chinese Kung Fu schools someone or a so-called “Shifu” is responsible for the international students. So you will certainly be looked after, but I am not sure how you can connect with the school like you will with the smaller schools. Keep in mind that some schools have up to 40.000 thousand students.


Watch Master Hu Training his students Xiao Hong Quan form (traditional Kung Fu style)

Traditional versus Modern Chinese Kung Fu

I cannot go into detail regarding this subject, but if you wish to get more information on the matter, I advise you to do your research on the web.
I am not sure if anyone who has not been to China before is aware of this, but it is quite a big thing.
This post is merely here to inform about the differences and since I was not aware of any of the differences before I left you China, I believe is it worth reading.
Moreover, please keep in mind that I can only compare modern Chinese Kung Fu to Traditional Shaolin Kung Fu. Since I have not any experience with the other styles.

The difference between modern Chinese Kung Fu and Traditional Shaolin Kung Fu is very important for choosing a school in China. In short, most larger schools have changed their training to make sure they comply with modern Chinese Kung Fu standards. However, it is very different from traditional Shaolin Kung Fu. From what I have understood, modern Chinese Kung Fu is mainly basic Kung Fu moves and aerobatics. It does not have Inner Kung Fu and very little fighting purpose. Most moves cannot be explained as a fighting move. As in Traditional Kung Fu, every move you make has a purpose and can be explained by your teacher. If your teacher cannot explain what the move your doing is for, it is possible that you are not learning traditional Kung Fu.

More information about the differences can be learned via this post: The Difference between Modern Wushu and Traditional Kung Fu


Kung Fu Masters and teachers

Most people who go to China want to be trained by a real Kung Fu Master. However, real Kung Fu masters are normally way too busy to train solely international students. That is simply not how it works (unless the school only hosts international students).
The most important thing is that you have a good teacher. My teacher was Master Hu's closest student and he trained under him for over 15 years. He is very patience with international students and knows pretty much everything about Shaolin Kung Fu. Master Hu trained me during the one-month winter break and invited me and other international students for evening training one or twice a week. He also regularly invited us for tea-ceremonies and traditional Chinese dinners. From my experience, the most important thing is that you have a competent trainer. Your master can teach you more about the philosophy of Kung Fu, stories about the old days, additional Kung Fu tricks and skills.

2. Preparing for your Kung Fu Journey 

Please keep in mind that the actual Kung Fu training in China is different from what you see on videos online. The day’s training in a school is long, while videos are often short and intensive. Thus prepare yourself for long days of steady routine training.

physical preparation for your Kung Fu journey

You can find many posts and videos about this online.
In short, most people start focusing on their fitness condition. Often this is unnecessary, this will come during training at the school. For me, the most important is to focus on your flexibility. The more flexible you are, you faster you can grow in your training. However, if you do not have any flexibility, please do not worry. You will make massive progress in your training when you are in China.
Strengthening your muscles it really not required.

You can also practice some basic stances, punches, and kicks to help to prepare for your training. See this video for more information regarding this:

Training Preperation Before Going To A Kung Fu School in China


Packing your bag
You can buy pretty much everything you need in China! When needed, you can also ask your school to order items for you online and have them delivered to the school.

What you need to bring is:

- bring the right clothing for the season
- medicines and or supplements for muscle recovery and extra vitamins
- extra bankcards (international cards are only accepted by certain banks in China, make sure you bring extra cards in case you are experiencing trouble withdrawing money.
- make sure to bring things with you to kill the time, such as something to read.

Things you can buy in the school (our school had a little shop)
- training clothing, including shoes
- food/snacks and drinks
- washing basics such as soap, lotion, and shampoo
- etc
When you go to DengFeng (home of the Shaolin Wushu and the Shaolin Temple) you will be able to buy everything else you need in the small city of DengFeng.


Phone Card and VPN
Getting a phone card can be quite difficult in China for foreigners. Since you need to register your phone with a Chinese passport. For foreigners, there are limited options to get a Chinese phonecard. During my stay, I did not manage to obtain a Chinese phone card. You can ask your school what your options are.

More information about getting a Chinese phone card here.

In case you want to access social media websites and sites like Google you will need a quality VPN. You cannot install the VPN in China since your app store will be blocked. You will need to do this before you travel to China.