Certainly I am not the only one who has come to Shaolin Temple because of the American TV series, Kung Fu. Others have heard the call of the temple's reputation and have written books about it. Before arriving at the temple, I met a Swiss martial arts student. He was studying at one of the innumerable kung fu schools in the area. Kung fu at Shaolin, he said, was "show kung fu." But I dismissed this as being boastful of his own school. I was, in all likelihood, wrong.
I made a mistake in signing up for two weeks. I should have paid for only a few hours a day, which is possible. Then my body would not have been so sore, and the afternoons would have been free for exploring the region. One week would have been enough for me.
The training is hardly rigorous. I hardly broke a sweat. Jogging ten laps around the pagoda may be a warm-up exercise, but that is all. Only once did the kids do push-ups. Only once did they stand on their hands (with a partner holding their legs.) Otherwise no strength training.
I had to snicker to myself when I first saw the kids perform. I hesitate in calling it a complete joke because I do not have a comparison, never having had martial arts training before.
Master Li hardly does a thing. Occasionally he barks out a few commands or personally showed me how to place my body. Once he even delivered what seemed like a light hearted lecture to the group. But mostly I would characterize him as being absent. Not only when he was physically elsewhere, but even when he was there. If he had any continuous function it was to instill a sense of fear and discipline in the group. Otherwise, the pupils would just goof off.
Think long and hard about how long you want to train and pay for the shortest period possible. Do even one hour to see how it goes. Visit a master’s class to see what it is like before you shell out a sum you may regret.