Jonathan Baker (2019) - Trained 9 months
I arrived at Xinglong School in October 2018 fresh out of high school. I decided to pursue my passion for martial arts and move to China for 9 months of training under Wang Shifu.
Shaolin is known for its relentless training style, and Shifu's teaching lives up to this reputation. At the school, we are pushed daily by Shifu and each other, repeating basic exercises endlessly until we understand the concepts and characteristics behind the movements. This type of training is mentally and physically exhausting, but ensures that a solid foundation is built and we gain a basic understanding of power generation and Kung Fu principles before moving onto fighting. We are required to contemplate the material we are taught in order to progress in training; Shifu puts an incredible amount of effort into teaching us, but he won't always give straight answers to questions on technique. Shifu's teaching style is heavily influenced by Confucian ideas; he will push us in the right direction but wants us to be observant and intelligent, discovering things ourselves through practice and reflection. This method of training doesn't yield instant results, but builds solid martial artists who can think for themselves.
Equally important to Shaolin is the strict physical training. We train 8 hours a day, running, holding stances, kicking, stretching and conditioning. Shaolin places emphasis on strengthening the legs, and leg soreness is something everyone here quickly becomes accustomed to. On Thursday afternoons, we have "power training", where our will and determination is tested through three continuous hours of bunny hops, lizard crawls, push ups, holding planks, heavy bag work, holding stances and much more. Facing hardships here and overcoming them is one of the most rewarding parts of the training, and will see you gain self confidence as well as build physical strength and endurance.
Life at the school is quiet and free from distractions, a fantastic location to focus on martial arts studies. The surroundings of the school are beautiful, particularly in spring when the blossoms are out after months of sub-zero temperatures and snow. The people you are with at the school shape your experience hugely, and friendships are formed fast as everyone goes through the tough training regime together. You learn a lot from the people you train with, and are bound to meet plenty of interesting people whilst at the school. Training within a group dynamic will allow you to push yourself even when you're exhausted; it's an amazing experience when the group spirit is high and everyone gets into the rhythm of training. Something else essential to Kung Fu is the relationship between a student and their Shifu. Despite how strict he is in training, outside of class Shifu treats his students like family. He goes out of his way to make sure pupils have everything they need to succeed and gain the most from their time at the school. Shifu respects anyone willing to come to the school and work hard and is truly invested in his students. Besides his sincerity as a teacher, Shifu has a deep understanding of Shaolin's martial arts, and is highly proficient in his technique as well as possessing a wealth of insights into Kung Fu's theories, characteristics and philosophy. Shifu sees Kung Fu as a way to make people who are strong, confident and well-mannered through enduring hardship. Anyone who sticks with the training goes through great changes after spending a significant amount of time at the school. And as I come to the end of my stay, I can say that even more so than the martial skills I have gained, it is the values Shifu has instilled in me that will shape my life.
If you'd like to see more of life at the school and some of the martial arts material you can learn here, check out my YouTube video of my time training in China:
Anna Mattinger (2018) - Trained 6 months
The first time I showed up at Xinglong Kung Fu School, I had no martial arts experience—just a crazy whim to try on a new challenge. I thought I’d go for a month, check it off the list, and move on.
As of now, I’ve been to the school three times and have slated my fourth time for next year. It’s no overstatement to say the school has irrevocably changed the shape of my life.
Another non-overstatement: it’s hard.
It’s hard enough that I’ve seen people arrive with grand plans to stay for x months, or a year…only to truncate those dreams and fly home within their first month, because they hadn’t bargained for it to be quite so hard—or, at least, not so hard in the ways it turned out to be.
Which is understandable [and, seriously, props to anyone who shows up for trying!], because most people simply have no frame of reference for what it’s like. They come seeking “hardcore” without knowing what “hardcore" feels like.
You may know what it’s like to train for several hours a week, and just multiply that in your head to account for a higher number of hours of physical exertion, and then they think that’s enough to then know what to expect at the school.
But new levels of challenge bloom from the day-in-day-out nature of the school.
Montages in kung fu movies make “hardcore” look a lot sexier than you’re going to feel when you’re practicing the same damn movement for hours and hours and hours and still feel like a dingus every single time you attempt it.
Then there’s less time for recovery, for recreation, for distraction. You’ll live for those glorious days where you feel you’ve leveled up, and might not need distractions on those days…but you’ll also have those other days where it’s hard to focus, where you’re bored and everything hurts and the weather sucks, and maybe you said something stupid out of frustration, and you’re still doing that same move ad nauseam and feel you just aren’t improving—worse, it may even feel like you’re backsliding. Maybe you’d nailed that same move yesterday. Sometimes, you might have several of these bad days in a row.
At that time, the question you’ll have to answer for yourself is whether you can fall in love with the process, not just the result, and log the hours even when you can’t see the payoff from where you’re standing.
My point is that after the first week or two, the predominant difficulty is mental, not physical. After all, I survived—as a late-twenties woman with no martial arts experience who wasn’t especially athletic—so, while being fit on arrival is certainly helpful, it’s ultimately not a question of how fit you are.
All that said, it’s for those reasons that the school has such a potent ability to change people’s lives. The visceral difficulty and simplicity of purpose may scratch itches you didn’t know you had.
Seeing yourself through new species of challenges than those you’ve likely faced before can leave you with a sense of having come home to yourself, of having a new understanding of what you can endure. And that’s something that can’t be taken away from you.
Matthew Herbert (2017) - Trained 9 Months
So after talking about it for what seemed like forever, I am finally in China. I have decided to write a little bit about what it’s like here, but I’m finding it to be difficult. It’s like a lot of things.
It’s like the movies in some ways. The training is endless, the landscapes are breathtaking, and the characters are larger than life. It’s like the movies because everyone has their backstory and their reasons for being here, and slowly discovering these bits of information is often a rewarding experience. It’s like the movies because a wrong move or an out of place tone can result in being under the weight of the master’s displeasure, which has all sorts of possible outcomes.
In other ways, it’s like being at home and hanging out with your friends and family. After all, the handful of folks I am training with have become those things. They are there to pull me to my feet when I find myself on the ground (this happens a lot), to clobber me when I have let my defenses lapse (this, too), and to serve as my inspiration when I feel like I can't keep going, because soldiering on through this kind of intense training is at least as much a function of mental fortitude as it is about physical toughness).
Some highlights so far include:
Infiltrating an ancient castle.
Performing some forms in front of 1,000+ people, most of whom were government officials, army personnel, or other martial artists from around China.
The training itself is of course a highlight, and it is challenging, draining, rewarding, tiring, emotional, and neverending.
Training kung fu is about making yourself into a better, stronger human being through hard work. It is about making your body into your greatest asset and discovering what an intricate, perfect instrument it can be. And it is about steeling your mind and your temperament so that when life happens, you are ready to rise and meet it. If these are among your goals, then Xinglong Kung Fu School is the place for you.
The next time I go back to the school will be my fourth time. I have been there through every season and have seen countless others come through and transform themselves. Please reach out to me if I can answer any questions for you.
Matt Herbert is a doogler who smells bad and has a dumb face. When he isn't farting and sniffing it or pretending to be a big-dicked Ninja Turtle, he is probably getting high and drinking seltzer water while listening to covers of video game music. He lives in Baltimore with his boner.
Boas Kampfen (2016) - Trained 1.5 years
Un rêve est devenu réalité.
Après avoir vécu tout ce temps à l'école d'art martial de Sifu Wang Xing Long, parmis d'autres personnes exceptionnelles provenants des quatre coins du globe, ma vie à changé.
Partant en Chine pour la première fois je n'avais aucune idée à quoi je ferai face, réellement.
Le début a été dur, j’ai voulu abandonner maintes fois, mais, armé d’une volonté de fer, je suis finalement resté pour une période bien plus longue que ce que j'avais prévu initialement. Maintenant les arts martiaux sont devenus une addiction :)
Entre rires, larmes, douleurs et moments inoubliables partagés avec les autres membres du groupe, j'ai pu apprendre beaucoup de choses sur moi-même et évoluer énormément dans la pratique des arts martiaux grâce au maître, Sifu, qui m'a poussé bien au-delà de mes espérances.
Sifu est un homme qui comprends et vis son métier comme nul autre maître que j'ai pu rencontrer. Même s’il est stricte et parfois sévère pendant l'entraînement, il a le cœur sur la main et serait prêt à aider dans n'importe-quelle situation. Il reconnaît les difficultés et les atouts de chaque élève, aussi bien physiques que mentales, et y investit 150% de son savoir, de ses efforts et de sa patience pour faire de nous des combattants du corps, de l’esprit mais aussi et surtout de l’âme.
Ici la nourriture est variée et exquise, il y en a pour tous les goûts. Aussi bien pour les végétariens que les non végétariens. Située à la campagne, dans les collines entourées de forêt et de nature, cette école est l'endroit idéal pour se recentrer.
Un grand merci du fond du cœur à Sifu Wang Xing Long et à Kyle Yard qui m'ont fait présent de leur grand savoir.
Never give up !
If you want to know more about anything feel free to contact me !
Owen Gibson (2016) - Trained 2.5 years
After training with Wang Sifu for almost 3 years, there's plenty I could say about the school – to sum it all up in a couple paragraphs is almost impossible. First I should say, as emphasised on the website – that it is most definitely NOT a holiday. This will most likely be one of the most difficult things most people will ever do in their lives. You have to be dedicated, punctual, and you will be pushed way beyond your physical and mental limits.
Saying that, choosing Wang Sifu's school has been the best decision of my life. Once your limits have been pushed, you start to realise your true potential. I have achieved more at the Xing Long Kung Fu School than I would have ever imagined. In just this time, I've learned plenty of forms, got lots of Sanda experience, and progressed my internal training amongst others. However the benefits stretch further than just training. I've performed on stage, I've earned my 4th dan, and made such bonds with the other students that I didn't know was possible.
Wang Xing Long is not just a stern master. He is a father figure, a caring friend, and truly one of the best men that I have ever met. I couldn't imagine training under anybody else. It has been an absolute honour, and I cannot speak highly enough of him and his school. If anybody is on the fence about coming here, I guarantee there is not a better school, or man to train under, in or out of China.
Please feel free to email me or add my wechat for any personalised information about the school!
wechat id: owendudeson
Scott Brady (2014) - Trained 3 months
In the past I studied under Wang Shifu at another school and was very pleased to learn that he had started a school of his own, successfully operating it for over a year now. Shaolin kung fu is big business in China, so many masters will promise you the world, but from my experience few deliver on all the hype. Wang Shifu is an authentic 7th band Shaolin Master who can trace his lineage back to his Shaolin Temple roots. I’ve trained with a handful of Shaolin masters over the years, and made many friends with other kung fu students across China, hand’s down Wang Shifu is one of the best around. Most foreign students training in China who have been there a while will know of him, not only from the high calibre of his teaching, but based on his experience teaching foreigners for 10+ years in many different schools across China. In my view what makes Wang Shifu one of the best is that he takes training to heart, and he takes it seriously — he will push his students to their own limits yet at the same time is cognizant that all students learn at different paces. Whether you are young or old, male or female, caucasian or a minority, he will teach you as an individual and if you are ready he will help you push yourself beyond any limits you thought you had. At the same time he is very humorous and approachable, so gets along with everyone easily.
Darryl Nicholson (2013) - Trained 3 months
In 2013 I visited Shifu Xing long’s Shaolin kung fu school in china. I trained with the school for 3 months. I enjoyed every minute. The training was tough but fair. I felt I learnt a lot both in martial arts and in life. My skills and abilities developed quickly and the longer I trained the faster I was able to progress, thanks to a great teacher. Shifu Xing Long looked after every one of his students, not just as students but as friends as well. The food and accommodation was really good, i met some great people. The only regret I have is not staying longer. All in all it was an amazing experience. I encourage anyone who is interested to learn Shaolin kung fu to contact and train at the school.
Menga Keller (2012) - Trained 1.5 years
I trained with Master Wang during 2012. It was an unforgettable experience. Before I found Master Wang´s school, I trained under different Masters but no one was as good and as dedicated as Master Wang. From the beginning he pushed me to my limits, which I appreciated a lot especially because I´m a female. For him this didn´t matter, he treated me the same way he treated all of his other students. He pushes you and makes you discover an unknown potential of which you haven´t been aware before. Master Wang is very caring and respectful at the same time and always worried about the well-being of his students. If he sees that you struggle he motivates you and if he sees you´re not well he´s very understanding. Training with him is tough and a daily challenge. Depending on the day we trained Shaolin forms, do strength training, kickboxing, tai chi, power stretching and much more. Because of the little number of students and Master Wang´s wish to get the best out of his students, everyone improved very fast and made a lot of progress in a short amount of time. I would recommend the school to everybody who is dedicated to martial arts or who is willing to put a lot of effort into learning it. You will be in good hands with Master Wang. I wish him all the best and can´t wait to return to his school in the summer of 2013.
Xavier Burgos (2012) - Trained 1 year
Shaolin training has been a blessing thanks to Master Wang. His energy, motivation, skills and so much more that he has to offer, has made my experience unforgettable. He is highly skilled and wishes for his students to carry on what he has acquired through years of experience. Not only does he train you physically, but he has a way to pass wisdom down for daily life styles. His presence alone speaks volumes and his knowledge on martial arts is one of a kind. He has helped me become proficient in Chin Na, Sanshou (Chinese Kick Boxing), Traditional Shaolin, Meditation, Tai Chi, and also my knowledge of tea and health. Thanks to him I plan on coming back in the future and building a higher degree of martial arts.
My time with Wang Sifu was like no other. The assumption of what I was in store for was better than I could have imagined. His role as a master has never been taking so seriously. The training was an awakening to where I was at physically and mentally. Once I established this, shifu wang helped me in every field possible to excel. His motivation is full of will power and determination. His knowledge of martial arts is way beyond the norm
Even during the toughest times, Sifu was always there to support me and never let me give up. I feel that’s what is vital in a master. His sense of teaching and mentality. One of my favorite moments with shifu wang, would be ironically during training. He has an amazing way of making the tough things flow in a relaxed manner. His personality is priceless. Not only does he have a tough side from his development through life, but his sense of humor even during the most stressful times is one of the things most I admire.
Feel free to ask questions firstname.lastname@example.org
Bradley Davis (2012) - Trained 5 months
I came to Wang Sifu’s Shaolin Gong Fu Academy in April and have stayed here until the end of July. I already knew that one year with Wang Sifu would do more for me than 3 years with most other sifus. I had already been in china for 3 months at this point. When I first arrived at Wang Sifu’s academy I saw that everyone was respectful to each other and it felt more like a family than a group of individuals which was unseen at my past school, all the problems I was used to in other schools in China disappeared; the food here is excellent, Sifu always makes sure we have enough to eat and provides us with the nicest food he can supply, and he constantly asks us if we have any ideas for food or the academy in general. The training here is amazing compared to anywhere else I have been.
We wake up every day and start with tai chi for one hour and then have breakfast and then begin training. We train roughly 8 to 9 hours a day whereas at my old School I only trained 5 if I was lucky. Wang Sifu helps you in every way he can and if there are certain things you cannot do because of an injury he understands and helps you train around your problems. He also speaks really good English which is rare for a sifu meaning you get to have in depth conversations and actually get to know the master you are training with and end up with a shaolin Sifu not just as your master but as your personal friend which is a blessing.
In my time here I have learnt 3 shaolin forms ( tongbei , staff and Xiao luo han ) with my Sifu showing each application to every move you do so you fully understand that it is not just fancy martial arts but in fact complex fighting applications which are amazing to learn. I have also learnt two tai chi forms 24 and 42 (yang Style) and recently he has brought a young Sifu from Chen village, the birthplace of tai chi, to teach us Chen style tai chi which is also incredible. I have had one of the best times in my life and feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to come and train with Wang Sifu and everybody at this academy. I only planned to come china for 6 months for the 2nd time and never return but under Wang Sifu I have changed that plan to come back in February for a full year and another year after that. This how good of a Sifu he actually is.
I can’t wait to come back here and carry on my journey. I would never go to another school after being to the one I am at now because no other school could compare. I have been pushed further than I ever thought possible. Not only has it made me stronger than I ever thought I could be it has also made my way of thinking clearer in all ways and I feel more than privileged for the chance I have had to train here. Not only has Wang Sifu become my only master but also one of my best friends and I wish to keep in contact with him through my whole life as well as the friends I have made here.
If you are wanting to come and train shaolin martial arts and want not just the best, but the best for you, this is the place to be without a doubt. Thank you to Wang Sifu for all he has done for me and I can’t wait for the future to see what it bring when I am back here. He has done more for me in 4 months than a year at my old school so I can’t even imagine what he can make out of me when I come back for a year.