Warrior’s Way 20-Day Program – Learn fist and weapons forms at the Shaolin Temple
Our 20-Day Warrior’s Way Kung Fu Bootcamp, starting in Beijing and then travelling to the Shaolin Temple in Henan, China, is our most intensive program. 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 out 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. Click photos to enlarge.
UPDATE: We are now accepting short-term applications for our September program, including 2 nights in Beijing and 1-week at the Shaolin Temple. See here for details.
The Warrior’s Way Bootcamp is designed to offer you an accessible martial arts experience, and features not just kung fu, but an opportunity to experience life and culture at the Shaolin Temple in the most authentic way possible.
Throughout your time at the Shaolin Temple, you will primarily focus on training cardio, flexibility, strength, stamina and speed, while at the same time studying both the traditional Shaolin Tongbiquan form (click the link for more information), and the Shaolin Yinshougun stick form, as well as 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 the 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.
To enjoy the benefits of morning exercise, 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. A kung fu form is a series of individual techniques and movements (based on the jibengong) put together to make a continuous routine which lasts about 60 seconds when done at full speed. 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 the Tongbiquan form 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.
Shaolin Staff – The definitive Buddhist weapon
Being Buddhist monks first and foremost, the sanctity of life, and its preservation, is of paramount importance to Shaolin warriors. As such, the humble staff has always been regarded as their most prized weapon. This is because it can be used both offensively and defensively, with the degree of harm caused to the opponent entirely at the discretion of the wielder. This allows those trained in Shaolin Staff to choose exactly the right amount of force to put into its usage, allowing only the exact amount of damage needed, relative to the situation, to be applied.
The staff form we will be learning in our second week at the Shaolin Temple is called the Yinshougun form, which roughly translates as Yin Hand Staff form. While it is a foundation form of Shaolin, the same as the Tongbiquan form it contains all the techniques that make up the entire range of Shaolin staff. And again as with Tongbiquan, while it should only take on average 5 days to learn, it requires many years of consistent practice to master.
Students considering applying for our 20-day day program should note that unlike western schools, the monks’ willingness to impart their knowledge is entirely dependent on the perceived effort exerted and willingness to learn of the student. All students are expected to give 100% both during and after their training sessions, as doing so will demonstrate that they are serious about and committed to their training, which is what the monks expect.
Applicants who feel they are unable or unwilling to show this level of dedication throughout training are advised to apply for a place on our 12-day program instead, which while still intense, is better geared to those unsure of their commitment to training.
Supplementary training – Practice makes perfect
Aside from jibengong, Tongbiquan and Yinshougun 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.
Each 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 the essence of mastering kung fu. While this method of teaching may go against popular western teaching ideas, it is a fundamental aspect of traditional kung fu training.
More than just kick-ass moves
In order to help you acclimate yourself to Chinese life and culture, our 20-day program begins on the Wednesday night with a welcome dinner in Beijing, where you can meet both your guide and the other course participants. On Thursday we will see the Great Wall at Mutianyu, and on Thursday night and the whole day Friday you will have free time to explore the city at will, before heading to Shaolin of Friday evening.
While kung fu training forms the core of our programs, 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 upcoming itinerary, and tell you 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.
The Shaolin Temple, Tagou, and all our excursions, except to the Zen Music Ritual, are located within the Shaolin Scenic Area, an enclosed area including several mountains. During your time at the temple, participants can join excursions on the first two Sunday mornings to 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 Sanhuangzhai, a mountainous area with stunning scenery.
During the 20-day program, you will also have free time. Thursday evening and Friday morning in Beijing, and 2 afternoons and mornings while at the temple, have no scheduled activities. While you might wish to rest, you are also welcome to continue practicing, go shopping or explore the rest of the Shaolin Scenic Area or the town of Dengfeng, 20 minutes from the Shaolin Scenic Area. On the second Saturday evening, we will also travel into Dengfeng to enjoy the Zen Music Ritual, a beautiful performance that combines music, lights and kung fu into a truly breathtaking display.
In summary, on the Warrior’s Way 20-Day Bootcamp participants will take part in:
- Welcome dinner in Beijing
- Visit to the Great Wall, plus free time to explore the rest of Beijing
- Morning taichi training
- Morning qigong training (in week 2)
- Shaolin cardio training
- Intense Shaolin stretching sessions
- Jibengong (the foundation of Shaolin martial arts) training
- Learning the complete Shaolin Tongbiquan form
- Learning the complete Yinshougun form
- Training how to apply techniques learnt
- Combat conditioning
- Sanda (Chinese kickboxing) classes
- Tour of the Shaolin Temple and surrounding area
- Watching the Zen Music Ritual
- Visit to Sanhuangzhai scenic 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, none of our participants – no matter their starting level – have failed to amaze themselves 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 applicants’ suitability for our programs. CKMH 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, on the Friday night we will travel from the Beijing West Railway via 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 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, while training at the Shaolin Temple participants will be staying at a small hotel 5 minutes walk from the Shaolin Temple. As explained in more detail here, this is a rural area in the Song Mountains, and 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, with larger supermarkets and facilities that we can help you get to, if required. Please note however, you are very unlikely to find any English speakers or signs in the town.
During your time with us, we will be staying at the largest hotel near the Shaolin Temple. Accommodation will be clean and comfortable shared rooms (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 accommodation in your home country, and your understanding is appreciated if small problems occasionally arise. Your guide will be in the same hotel as you and is available 24 hours a day in case there are any problems. Please note that when staying in shared rooms, there is only 1 bathroom per floor, and you may wish to bear this in mind when scheduling your time each day, as it can get quite busy.
The majority of your daily meals will be taken within the hotel. This food is simple vegetarian home cooked Chinese fare. While the food is basic, it has met the requirements for the majority of our past participants. If you are worried that the food offered may not meet your needs, we advise you to bring extra supplementary food. If you have special dietary requirements please let us know in your 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 20-day program is 14888 RMB (approx. $2156/£1680), all inclusive.
This program includes:
- 2 nights accommodation in Beijing, in a centrally-located hostel dorm
- Visit to the Great Wall, plus free time to explore the rest of Beijing
- 1 week of Shaolin Tongbiquan fist form classes inside the actual Shaolin Temple, with a genuine Shaolin Warrior Monk
- 1 week of Shaolin Yinshougun stick 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 morning Yang Style taichi classes
- 1 week of morning qigong stance and breathing training
- daily cardio, strength, conditioning and technique application training
- guided tour of the Shaolin Temple
- visit to the Pagoda Forest, Chuzu Convent, Damo Cave and Wuru Peak
- a short Shaolin kung fu performance at the Shaolin Wushu Exhibition Centre
- a performance of the Zen Music Ritual in Dengfeng
- visit to the beautiful Sanhuangzhai scenic area
- Shaolin kung fu uniform (1 x Feiyue shoes, 3 x kung fu pants, 3 x sleeveless Shaolin t-shirt and 1 x kung fu sash)
- all transportation between Beijing and the Shaolin Temple (train and bus)
- 2 weeks of accommodation 10 minutes walk from the Shaolin Temple, in a hostel dorm
- Breakfast, lunch and dinner during the length of the program*
- 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
∗ 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.
** excluding dinner on the 2nd and final nights in Beijing (Thursday 12th & Sunday 29th) and lunch on the 3rd day in Beijing (Friday 13th)
Not included in the price:
- flights / travel to and from 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 are satisfied with your suitability for this course, we will send you an invoice for a deposit of 20% of the total booking fee. The deposit must be paid within 3 days of receiving the invoice for your reservation to accepted. Please note that a copy of the ID page of your passport is also required together with your 20% deposit to enable us to register you with the hotel and book train tickets in advance.
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.
Please note that this is a complete package tour. If you would prefer not to participate in the Beijing part of the program we are unable to offer a discount.
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, and that you may be required to answer further questions, or submit further details, before we can confirm your application.
- Click ‘Submit’.
- Upon receipt, we will review your application, and if accepted, issue an invoice for a 20% deposit. To confirm your reservation, please pay this invoice within 72 hours and send us a copy of the ID page of your passport. 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.
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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