The famous Shaolin Warriors are touring the UK and other parts of Europe. It has to be said that their show is always spectacular.
It is interesting to note that during the Chinese cultural revolution, the government tried to stamp out all martial arts. Many Kung Fu master either left for Taiwan, Hong Kong or some other location; or just kept a very low profile for many years.
However, eventually the government realised that Kung Fu could bring them prestige and even more importantly . . . . . . . money! So this ban was relaxed and state schools were set up. These have become centers of excellence, taking children and training them from a very early age to become martial athlete’s and performers. In my humble opinion, much of what is taught there is not practical martial arts. That said, if you had to take on somebody who had trained for 6 hours a day for most of their life and started at about the age of 4, then you’re going to have your hands full. I personally feel that their effectiveness is because of the high degree of intense training over many years, rather than the actual content of that training.
For real practical Chinese Kung Fu, I’d suggest going to Chinese communities outside of mainland China. I used to train Wing Chun with a Taiwanese friend. During the Chinese civil war, the Communists chased out the Nationalists out of mainland China and they fled to Taiwan. Since then China and Taiwan have always had unresolved issued and Taiwan still fears an invasion from mainland China (to re-unite the country). My friend told me that that as they were so vastly out-numbered, the Taiwanese philosophy was that each one of them would have to kill 10 mainland Chinese in order for them to stand a chance. This was quite an incentive to put reality and practicality into their training.
I hope this does not offend anybody, but that’s just my opinion based on what I’ve been told. However, I do know that in many parts of China there are still strict legal restrictions on what they can learn in terms of Chi Gung and energy work. I friend of mine who trained with a Chinese Tai Chi master in the UK went out to China to train and found that he knew more than some of the masters teaching in China. When emailing friends back home, he had to be very careful what he put in those emails about the type of training he was doing so as not to get into trouble.
That said, the Shaolin Warriors always put on a great show and are well worth watching if you get the chance. Their skill levels are incredible. You can use the following links to get more information about: