Warrior’s Way – Learn kung fu at the Shaolin Temple
Our Warrior’s Way Kung Fu Bootcamp at the Shaolin Temple in Henan, China, is our most intense experience. While you don’t need to be an expert martial artist, or even in perfect shape, this program will push participants mentally, physically and emotionally, and requires people to really dig down and find what they are capable of achieving.
Click a tab below for more information on the program, daily life, pricing and how to apply for a place.
The Warrior’s Way Bootcamp is designed to offer you the most intense martial arts experience, and features not just kung fu, but an opportunity to experience life and culture at the Shaolin Temple in as authentic a way as possible.
Throughout this 9-day program, you will primarily focus on training cardio, flexibility, strength, stamina and speed, while at the same time studying the traditional Shaolin Tongbiquan form and learning what it means to be part of the Shaolin Temple.
The term ‘kung fu’ translates to ‘achieved through hard work’ in English. This means to give 100% physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually to whatever you are endeavouring to do, and to not stop, overcoming the discomfort or downright exhausting challenge that training is. When it comes to the mastery of martial arts, that means pushing your mind, body and spirit to the extreme, no matter how much you want to give up.
These classes emphasize very relaxed postures, while still building strength and endurance.
To enjoy the benefits of morning taichi, these classes are conducted outside. If the weather is bad, classes may not be held.
Jibengong – Martial fundamentals
Each day after breakfast, you’ll head to the temple. Before each session, your guide will lead you through a warm-up routine which includes intense cardio, balance and stretching exercises. This is followed by 2 hours in the morning with your laoshi (teacher; the warrior monk who will be training you), the first hour of which will be training jibengong.
Jibengong (基本功 in Chinese), a major step on the path to developing or improving your martial arts acumen, is the constant and consistent practice of the fundamentals, which will form a large part of your training while at the temple. Jibengong can be anything from simply staying in horse stance for a prolonged period of time, to sets of a specific techniques, such as a kick or punch, practiced in quick repetition again and again. While this may sound easy at first glance, the task of completing these exercises while already exhausted, together with meeting the high demands of both the CK Martial Hearts coach and your Shaolin Warrior Monk instructor, make these exercises anything but simple.
Your ability to perform the jibengong will be the basis of how well you can understand and execute the Shaolin Tongbiquan form that you learn. It is a common mistake to think that studying kung fu, or being able to do kung fu well, means you know many forms or techniques. This is completely untrue. Having a truly high level of kung fu means that your jibengong, your basics, are extremely good. Kung fu forms are merely different patterns of performing jibengong. It is through training jibengong consistently and with 100% intention that you will develop your kung fu.
Tongbiquan – Fundamentals in practice
In the second hour of training, your teacher will teach you the Tongbiquan form. Traditional Shaolin Tongbiquan is considered one of the most famous schools of kung fu and one of the fastest and most powerful. The time it takes to learn Tongbiquan depends on each individual student, but can be learned by the majority of people in 5-6 days. More information on this traditional Shaolin form can be found on our blog here.
Supplementary training – Practice makes perfect
Aside from jibengong and Tongbiquan training, your guide will also lead supplemental training both in the morning and afternoon. In the morning this will include correcting your form and intention training, focusing on punches, kicks and blocks from the form, while the afternoon supplementary training will feature application drills, how to use the Shaolin and Taichi techniques you have been learning and impact conditioning exercises.
Twice a week, you will also visit Tagou Martial Arts Academy, one of the largest martial arts schools in the world. Here, you will learn examples of the techniques and skills of sanda, the modern Chinese equivalent of western kickboxing. While based on traditional Chinese martial arts, this is a very external combat style and highly applicable to both competition and self-defence.
You are expected to practice in your free time, and you can practice either in the temple or at one of the practice grounds around the Shaolin Scenic Area. As with most things, the more you put into your training, the more you are likely to get out!
But again, this is where persistence and practice becomes essential. In the same way that the Shaolin Warrior Monks perfected their skills, you will be expected to follow their instructions to the letter, and repeat the techniques they are teaching as many times as they feel it is necessary to make sure the skills become ingrained into you, both physically and mentally. You will be pushed to repeat again and again, no matter how tired you are. Continuous training, pushing through limits you didn’t think you could surpass, and always moving forward, is another essence of mastering kung fu. While this method of teaching may go against popular western teaching ideas, it is another fundamental aspect of traditional kung fu training.
If you don’t think you are suited to this style of training, or are unwilling to give 100% and more during your time at the Shaolin Temple, our bootcamps are most likely not suited to you.
More than just kick-ass moves
While kung fu training forms the core of our programs at the Shaolin Temple, we do not spend 100% of our time training. Upon arriving at our hotel in Wangzhigou, there will be a general orientation, where we will discuss the week’s itinerary, and tell you know everything you need to know about life and training in the temple and village. In the afternoon, participants will join our introductory tour of the temple, and learn some of the history and stories associated with it, whilst also becoming familiar with the layout of the temple. You will also get the opportunity to enjoy a kung fu performance at the renowned Shaolin Wushu Exhibition Centre.
During the program, participants also have the option of joining an excursion on both Sunday mornings, and visiting some sites of interest around the Shaolin Scenic Area. These include the Pagoda Forest (the resting place of former monks and abbots), Chuzu Temple (an active convent), Damo Cave (where according to legend Bodhidharma sat for 9 years in meditation) and Erzu Peak, with beautiful views across the Shaolin Scenic Area.
Wednesday afternoon has no scheduled activities. While you may be exhausted and wish to rest, you are also welcome to continue practicing, go shopping or explore the rest of the Shaolin Scenic Area.
At your time of application, you can also book additional activities. You have the option of booking beginners Chinese classes (7 hours/1 hour each evening), private coaching with your guide (7 hours/1 hour each evening), or a visit to the Zen Music Ritual, an outdoor light, music and dance performance on Thursday evening. Please note these activities are subject to extra charges and availability.
In summary, on the Warrior’s Way program participants will take part in:
- Daily taichi training
- Shaolin cardio training
- Intense Shaolin stretching sessions
- Jibengong (the foundation of Shaolin martial arts) training
- Learning the complete Shaolin Tongbiquan form
- Training how to apply techniques learnt
- Combat conditioning
- Sanda (Chinese kickboxing) classes
- Tour of the Shaolin Temple and surrounding area
Every part of training at the temple, from running up and down the length of the temple, to the stretching, the forms and the supplemental training, is designed to increase both your strength and fortitude, mentally, physically and emotionally. And in the past three years, we have not had a single participant, no matter their starting level, who has failed to amaze themself with what they could achieve by the end of the program! As long as you are willing to put everything in, dedicate yourself and simply not give up, you will achieve the same results.
Please note: While CK Martial Hearts designs our courses very carefully, to allow anyone the opportunity to experience kung fu and culture at the Shaolin Temple, it would be impossible to always meet 100% of applicants expectations, 100% of the time. Therefore, in the best interests of applicants, CKMH reserves the right to review each application to assess their suitability for our programs. CKMH will carefully consider each application and may require further information before confirming whether your application to join this program has been successful.
Please also be aware that at the Shaolin Temple, discipline and respect are taken extremely seriously, and factor very deeply into how willing the warrior monks are to teach new students. While no one will force you to do anything you don’t want to do, all students are expected to give 100% effort in all activities, and accept that they will be pushed to do the best they can. If you truly wish to know what it means to train and develop kung fu, you must also continually push yourself and pay close attention to all the instructions your teachers give you. If you feel you are unwilling or unable to commit to this, CKMH respectfully suggests that these training programs are not for you.
As outlined in our travel guide, after meeting at Beijing West Railway we will board an overnight sleeper train to Zhengzhou, and then to the Shaolin Temple. The overnight train takes 9 hours, and beds are arranged as bunks in 6 person berths. While this form of travel is very much an experience anyone travelling to China should have, it can be a surprise for those not prepared! Be sure to bring earplugs and eye mask if you are a very light sleeper!
During all our Warrior’s Way Bootcamps, participants will be staying in Wangzhigou, a very small village 5 minutes walk from the Shaolin Temple. As explained in more detail here, this is a rural village in the Song Mountains, and as such, has very basic amenities and facilities. On the other hand, this helps with immersion in the local culture and helps participants focus on the experience of being at the temple. There is a town 20 minutes away from Wangzhigou, with larger supermarkets and facilities that we can help you get to, if required. Please note however, that as with the village, you are very unlikely to find any English speakers or signs in the town.
During you time with us, we will be staying at the largest hotel in Wangzhigou. Accommodation will be clean and comfortable shared dorm room accommodation, unless you booked a private room when you applied. While the hotel we stay at is quiet and comfortable, it may still not compare to equivalent accomodation in your home country, and your understanding is appreciated if small problems occasionally arise. Your guide will be in the same hotel as you however, and is available 24 hours a day in case there are any problems.
The majority of your daily meals will be taken at the Shaolin Temple International Dormitory, also within Wangzhigou Village. This food is very simple home cooked Chinese fare. While the food is basic and with a limited variety, it has met the requirements for the majority of our past participants. If you are worried the food offered may not meet your needs, we advise you to bring extra supplementary food, or you can opt to eat at one of Wangzhigou’s numerous restaurants. If you have special dietary requirements, such as being vegetarian, please let us know in advance at the time of application. Please note that as this is a very rural location, we may be unable to meet certain strict dietary needs, such as gluten free or vegan.
The total cost of this 9-day program is 7588 RMB (approx. $1106/£858), all inclusive.
This program includes:
- 1 week of daily Shaolin Tongbiquan fist form classes inside the actual Shaolin Temple, with a genuine Shaolin Warrior Monk
- 2 strike training class at Shaolin Tagou Martial Arts School, China’s largest martial arts academy
- 1 week of Yang Style taichi classes
- Daily cardio, strength, conditioning and technique application training
- Guided tour of the Shaolin Temple
- Guided tour to the Pagoda Forest, Chuzu Convent, Damo Cave and Wuru Peak
- Opportunity to enjoy a short Shaolin kung fu performance at the Shaolin Wushu Exhibition Centre
- Opportunity to enjoy a performance of the Zen Music Ritual in Dengfeng
- A Shaolin kung fu uniform (Feiyue shoes, kung fu pants, sleeveless Shaolin t-shirt and belt)
- All transportation between Beijing and the Shaolin Temple (train and private minibus)
- 1 week of accommodation in Wangzhigou, a rural village 10 minutes walk from the Shaolin Temple, in a hostel dorm∗
- All meals during the length of the program (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
- Full-time native-English speaking translator and guide with you for the duration of the program
- Daily photos and videos taken of you during training by a CK team member
- Certificate of participation
Not included in the price:
- travel into and out of Beijing
- accommodation in Beijing
- travel insurance
- personal shopping during program (gifts, personal items, clothing etc.)
Applications for places on this program can be made at any time. Once you have made your application, and we have reviewed and are satisfied with your suitability for this course, we will send you an invoice for a deposit of 25% of the total booking fee. The deposit must be paid within 3 days of receiving the invoice for your reservation to accepted.
Applications made less than 1 month in advance will be subject to availability, and if accepted, 100% payment will be required upon receipt of invoice. Applications made less than 1 month in advance do not qualify for the ‘100% payment’ discount.
∗ a dorm is a room with several beds, which may be occupied by other members of our programs, or other guests staying at the hostel at that time. If you would like your own room, please request one on the application form.
To apply now, simply fill in the form below, letting us know which program you’d like to apply for and when, and we will get back to you within 48 hours letting you know whether your application has been accepted, or if further information will be required.
- You can choose to either fill in the application form online, or download the form, and email it back to us. You can download the form here.
- Fill in all the requested information on the table below. Please note that a * indicates this field is mandatory.
- Click the box to confirm you have read the program itinerary page and have watched our introduction video on YouTube, and understood what you will be doing at the Shaolin Temple. (See the video on YouKu here.)
- Click the box to confirm you have read and understood our Terms and Conditions.
- Click to confirm that you understand what will be required of you on these programs, you may be required to answer further question, or submit further details, before we can confirm your application.
- Click ‘Submit’.
- Upon receipt, we will review your application, and then if accepted, issue an invoice for a 25% deposit. To confirm your reservation, please pay this invoice within 72 hours. For applications made less than 1 month before the start of a program, once accepted you will receive an invoice for 100% of the program fee, payable upon receipt. Please note: applications made less than 1 month in advance do not qualify for the ‘100% payment’ discount.
Problem with the form? Email us directly at [email protected] and we’ll be happy to take your application directly.
Once we receive your application, a review will be made, and we will let you know within 48 hours if the application has been successful, or if we require more information. If successful, we’ll email you an invoice. Your reservation will be held for 72 hours, but will be cancelled if your deposit isn’t received within that time.
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