2015 has been an amazing year for us. We have been so lucky to have met so many wonderful, passionate and dedicated participants, every one of whom have contributed to our company in a myriad of ways. It would be almost impossible to mention each and every moment of greatness we’ve experienced this year, but we’d love to share some of our favourites in this 2015 Year in Review.
Read on to see what our best memories of 2015 are, as well as what we are most looking forward to in 2016!
Love (of kung fu) at first sight
July 2015 saw our very first Shaolin Temple Experience. Although we had been travelling to the temple regularly for several years previous, this was the first time we were taking other people to experience life and learn kung fu there. And while we had been planning the program for as long as we had been going there, we knew the potential for the occasional hiccup or two was always going to be there.
Fortunately, our first two participants, Xavier and Gonzalo, were old China hands, and knew well what can happen to even the best laid plans in China. So when the unexpected did occur, such as last-minute delays due to special events at the temple, they were very patient and understanding. And of course, their feedback helped us shape programs for the rest of the year, which both we, and all future participants, were very grateful for!
Aside from their high tolerance for delays, the fact that neither Gonzalo nor Xavier had any real kung fu experience was another marvel. This was the first time either of them had trained martial arts since childhood. Yet no matter what their teacher threw at them, both were able to find the energy to go on. Commenting after their program finished, Gonzalo offered advice to future participants, stating “Do not worry about your level or your physical condition, the monk will make you feel your physical limits…..If you want to discover which other parts of your body exist and were there your whole life, this is the right place!” High praise indeed!
Kung fu friends (with benefits)
Throughout August we worked hard to make sure our next program was as good as it could be. And in September, our new participants seemed to agree!
Of the four participants to join us in September, only one had had any formal Chinese martial arts training. In fact, not only had he studied martial arts before, but he had trained full-time in Shenyang for several years, before moving to Beijing. He was joined by 3 other people, who combined equalled our most diverse group to date. But despite their differences, the group gelled amazingly, and supported each other through the long hard days of training, even when at one point, one wanted to walk away.
“I underestimated the training here, and was painfully pushed to my limits and at the beginning, did not want to go on”, Michaela exclaimed in her review of her time at Shaolin. But she dug deep, and with the support of her new Shaolin family, carried on training, proclaiming at the end “I have emerged stronger from it. AJ and Nic, the owners of CK Martial Hearts have created a very special program here. The atmosphere of the monastery / the training venue is very special, although I could not appreciate that at the beginning of training.”
I have emerged stronger from it. AJ and Nic, the owners of CK Martial Hearts have created a very special program here. The atmosphere of the monastery / the training venue is very special, although I could not appreciate that at the beginning of training.
It was Michaela’s sheer strength of willpower and never-say-die attitude that made her one of our 2015 standout participants, and really reminded us of what people can achieve if they push themselves to the limit, through every challenge and self doubt, that you can come out on the other side, a stronger person than you ever thought possible.
September was also the month we decided to make a video of all our experiences at the temple. Thanks to the tireless hard work of program participant George, who literally went above and beyond to get every possible angle and insight into our programs and the temple itself, we managed to accumulate a sizeable video database, which we will be releasing in short clips throughout 2016. So stay tuned for those!
Between a brick and a hard place
When Sam first emailed us in June, he was so young that we never believed he would actually join us on one of our kung fu training programs at the Shaolin Temple, and certainly couldn’t have imagined that he would be the first person to complete the full 10-day itinerary. But again, as we have seen time and again, we were again surprised how far down someone could search for the strength to continue, no matter how hard they found it!
As well as being the youngest participant on the program by a wide margin, Sam was also the only participant to come alone; everyone else that month had come with their partner to learn kung fu together. But despite these issues, Sam kept going day after day for the full program, commenting at the end “This course has been the single best thing that has ever happened to me. I have no past Kung Fu experience however in the 10 day course I learned so much not just about Kung Fu, i learned my body, my strengths and weaknesses, I learned that my mind can definitely overcome my body, even when my mouth says it can’t.
An example of one of those things his mouth said he couldn’t do? Break bricks with his bare hands. With zero martial arts experience, Sam just didn’t believe he could break through the concrete bricks the same as his Shaolin warrior teacher was doing with ease. And indeed, his hand did bounce off the first few times. But after encouragement, despite his doubts, he refused to quit, and of course managed to break one clean in half. No bricks will ever be safe around him again, that’s for sure!
2015 – thanks all around
Throughout the whole of 2015, both before, during and after our programs at the Shaolin Temple, so many people have given us encouragement, feedback and support, we truly consider ourselves blessed. For the creation of our 2016 promotion video, we were so happy to have September participants Marc, Ed, Michaela and George agree to be featured, with George also directing and filming the majority of the footage. But all that stunning material would have been no good to us without someone to turn it into something that people could watch. So we are very grateful to the services of ‘Troys Team Action‘, for editing the work done by George into two truly astounding videos. Those videos can be seen on our Youtube channel.
And of course, none of what we are able to offer would be possible without the tremendous support of the Shaolin Temple itself, both the teachers and staff who work so hard to be patient and understanding, as well as our partners in Beijing and Wangzhigou Village who are are always on hand to meet our participants requirements, day in, day out.
We look forward to another year of fruitful cooperation with you all in again in 2016!
The road ahead – 2016 and beyond
And what of next year? Well, we have so much to look forward to! Not only will we be continuing our Shaolin programs throughout 2016, but we will be expanding on the length and number of our courses, meaning that even more people will have the opportunity to experience life and learn kung fu at the Shaolin Temple. We will also be introducing our Shaolin Walking Tours, giving people with only a few hours to spare the opportunity to get an insider’s look at life and culture at the temple, both in modern times and throughout history.
With all that in mind, we sincerely look forward to being able to train at the Shaolin Temple with you next year. Have a great new year, and we’ll see you in the New Year with more news, information, photos and stories direct from the Shaolin Temple!
Have a great New Year!
Yours in Martial Spirit,
CK Martial Hearts Team
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