6 Ways My Real Kung Fu Training Was Crazier Than Any Movie


beijing red theatre kungfu



Part of growing up is attending the first sad day of a martial arts class, when you realize kung fu is not a lethal superpower that you learn at secluded mountain monasteries from mysterious old masters; it is a group exercise class taught at a strip mall by "Sensei Doug."


But some people do actually train at those secluded mountain monasteries, and for those select few folks, kung fu is way crazier than the movies show you. We spoke to a man who spent a year training at an actual temple school in China, and he basically confirmed every kickass thing we secretly believed about kung fu before Sensei Doug spin-kicked our dreams into the garbage.

I studied at a monk-operated Taoist school specializing in Wudang Kung Fu, which is sort of like the Pepsi to Shaolin Kung Fu's Coke. As the name suggests, the style originated in the Wudang Mountains, a mountain range in Central China. Today there are lots of smaller schools there willing to teach you martial arts in the traditional (read: horribly painful) way. You might remember the Wudang Mountains as the place in The Karate Kid (2010) where Jackie Chan teaches Jaden Smith kung fu by showing him a lady hypnotizing a cobra, which, shockingly, isn't a euphemism. It also wasn't totally made up. According to my teachers, some temples in the Wudang Mountains actually do practice snake hypnosis with cobras that have had their fangs pulled out.








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