Guide for foreigners who plan to train in China

A guide for foreigners who plan visit a Chinese martial arts school. Many wushu practitioners from europe and america asked me how to find the right wushu school, and how to avoid getting cheated in China. I hope this article helps answering your questions. If you have more quesions, feel free to contact me. At the wushu main page you can find a couple of wushu online instructions.

General information:

  • Set a goal.
    First off all you have to set a goal. Do you want to learn modern wushu, which is very acrobatic and requires a lot of athletism, or do you want to train traditional wushu. Most Chinese martial arts schools are specialized in modern wushu, but if you contact them, they will tell you whatever you wanna hear. Modern wushu in generally is not suitable for beginners over 20 years of age without martial arts or gymnastics experience. If you start at zero with bad athletism and flexibility, it will take you alt east 4 years to reach a top level in this sport. If you are in china and train modern wushu, don´t get pissed because you train the same few kicks and jumps every day. In the first year you will only learn the basics, one form for children and some simple weapon movement. If you wanna learn mokey-style, double sword and other traditional styles, let me tell you that Chinese wushu athletes usually learn those things when they are injured, sick or during breaks. Modern wushu also causes a lot of stress to the joints. (Because of the jumps) That's why older students will have difficulties in learning the acrobatics. However, in some special cases 25 years old beginners reach a very high level of wushu skill in only a few month. The get an overview of what are the wushu acrobatics and if you are to old to learn this things, visit my wushu-section. All the basics are listed in the order they are practiced twice a day at every modern wushu-school in china. Traditional wushu is suitable for those who travel to china only for a few weeks.

  • The contact persons of Chinese wushu schools.
    Normally the contact persons of Chinese martial arts schools are english teachers who know less about wushu than you. If you go to china, those guys are your employees, so don't let them command you too much. They will promise you everything to make you came to their school. As soon as you are there, they will try to make you dependent of themselves, to show the headmaster the importance of their work. The only thing you can do to avoid this, is to learn Chinese, learn Chinese and learn Chinese again. When I was in china, I met guys who got told they could work in china to pay the the school fee without a work-visa. Even if they would get paid under the table, they would only earn like 60 US-dollars per month. Don`t be shy to ask whatever is important for your.
    The contact persons always say things like: we are close to beijing, best school of all, best grand grand masters etc. Don`t accept a "close to ...." as an answer. Ask them how close. China is one of the biggest countries and for the Chinese 700 km is not very far. Tell the contact person how long you are gonna stay in China, but let them know that you have other schools on your list which always offer more and better deals. U know what I mean. Pay every month and not your whole stay at once. If they wanna force you to pay in advance, tell them that you will probably go to another school.
    And here my best advice for you to avoid problems.
    Print all the emails you get from the contact person, go to a Chinese restaurant and ask somebody if they could call the school to ask the same things again. Where it is, how many students it has, modern or traditional styles....etc.

  • What will the training look like.
    The training at Chinese martial arts schools is pretty much the same at all wushu schools in china. At 5:30 all the students have to stand up for the morning exercises. After 1 hour of training you they can have breakfast. The next training will be from 10 to 12 and another one from 4 to 6 in the afternoon. That's 5 hours of training all in all. The Chinese students also have to visit general knowledge lessons. The niveao of those lessons is very very low, but I still advice you to visit them if you stay in china for more than 2 semesters and want to get rid of that contact person who hangs in your neck all the time. Chinese is a very easy language and you will learn it faster than you think. In Winter most schools change their timetable. Some schools even reduce training to 3 hours. Most Chinese martial arts schools practice 7 days per week. There ain`` weekends, but at the end of each month there will be 4 to 6 free days. Normally from the 26th to the last day of the month. But just as they change their timetables every day, they might change their holidays. All the wushu schools I know in China, claim to train 7 days per week, 52 weeks per year. Well, there will always be students training in some dark corner of the school, but you won`t get training every day. Especially if you have take private lessons.

  • Private lessons or training in a class.
    Avoid private lessons if you wanna learn modern wushu or wanna save money.
    The private instructors won`t show up most of the time, because they usually don`t get paid by the school. The headmaster will just force them to teach you and they will only show up the firs few days. Chinese martial arts school will try to make you train with private instructors to justify their high scholl fee, to avoid that you have contact with the Chinese students or because they are afraid that you will injure yourself practicing the wushu acrobatics (They could get in trouble if a foreigner gets hurt at school)
    be aware that private instructors usually only teach traditional wushu. Its more interesting to learn thousands of different moves, but if you are good at modern wushu already, you will learn traditional forms in only 2 or 3 hours. A beginner who is in bad shape need more than a week to learn the same thing.

  • Your room.
    Be prepared to meet rats and mice in your room. The contact person will probably tell you that you will live in a top hotel. Before you come to china, the contact person will tell you, that you can live in a room with Chinese students to save money, but the headmaster will decide different. Try to find out how much the room, the food and the school fee costs. Try to pay separated. The Chinese students usually don't have proper toilets.

  • The food.
    Make sure your school fee doesn't include the food. Tell the contact person that you are allergic against something and therefore have to cook on you own. Beef and eggs are vary cheap in china. The Chinese students don't get very healthy food, and the hotels restaurant will let you wait for ages.
    Tap water is a guarantee for diarea.

  • How to pay the school.
    Pay only in Chinese money. Be careful if they want you to pay in US-dollars. China is not america and no Chinese is supposed to pay with dollars in china. When you first ask the contact person of the school for the school fee, ask him how many REN MIN BI. the month costs. Renminbi is the Chinese currency and by paying in Chinese money, you avoid getting cheated. If you know some Chinese, only pay the school fee and not all together. There will be problems with food and room anyway, so you should be able to change the room or the restaurant later.
    Never never never pay in advance. They will definitely not give you your money back if you cant train one month due to an injury or illness. Even try to arrange a deal where you pay weekly.

  • Chinese language preparation.
    The more Chinese you know the better. If your Chinese is perfect you might even be able to pay the same school fee as the Chinese students, which is between 15 and 70 USD, depending on the school. (excluding food and room) There will only be exactly one person at your school who speaks english. And that will be the contact person you know from your emails, who wants you to pay the maximum and will always be with you, even when you wanna go the toilet. No joke.
    If you don`t have the money or the time to visit Chinese classes, have a look at
    Chinese is by far the easiest language of all. Especially if you don't learn writing. All those idiots who know Chinese and claim Chinese to be the most difficult language, just wanna feel more intellectual in front of others. The Chinese Language "Han yu" is actually built up like a computer language such as "BASIC". Very logic without difficult forms or grammar etc.
    Don't lose time and start learning now. Every minute you waste, will cost you more in china.

  • Physical preparation.
    To visit a regular class at a Chinese martial arts school, you should be able to run 10 miles per day without problems and perform the front-splits. If you cannot do one of those two, you will be sore for at least one month. So you will not be able to learn much acrobatics in your first month. Also learn all the basic kicks, jumps and exercises described in the wushu-section. The Techniques are listed in the same order they are practiced every day everywhere in china. You wont be able to do the jumps properly at the beginning, but it help a lot to know how they work and haw the runups are done.

  • Money issues.
    I don't know why, but sometimes, using my VISA card turned out to be more expensive than WESTERN UNION. Western union charges about 10 percent and Visa is supposed to charge 4 percent. But visa actually cost me 17 percent. I reclaimed, but the Visa agency couldn't find out who always took the 13 percent left. Later I sent the money with post transmissions. Post transmissions seem to be the cheapest and another advantage is that you can send the money to any post office in China. If you send your money with western union or use a visa-card, you might have problems in finding a bank which accepts your visa or a western union office if you are not in a big city. I had to travel 5 hours to the next bank which accepted my visa and then they charged me 17 percent.
    The very best way to send money would be to open an account at the bank of china and if you have a "Bank of China" in your country, somebody could go there every month to deposit money.

  • Traveling Costs inside China.
    When you arrive to Beijing a Taxi to the center of Beijing should not cost more than 100 Yuan That's already already. There is a shuttle bus which is much cleaner than all the taxis for 16 Yuan (2 USD) other buses cost less than one dollar. The public bus inside beijing costs 1 to 2 yuan. (20 cent) You might pay extra for every suitcase. A normal 500 miles train journey costs about 60 Yuan (8 USD). A bed costs about 120 Yuan extra. (15-20 USD). A 1 mile tricycle (Rickshaw) ride costs 1 yuan in poor villages like shaolin or Yun Cheng. A minibus ride costs 1 to 3 Yuan. If you are the first person in a minibus, they will bring you wherever you want. On the way to your goal, the driver will only pick up those who wanna go to to same direction. Mini busses don't have a set destination. Long bus rides inside china cost about 60 percent of train rides. For example 100 km for 7 Yuan. However, there are high speed shuttle buses from shanghai to beijing or Qing Dao to shanghai, Ji Nan etc which cost much more. But those buses are very clean and faster than the train. (Only tour between big cities and touristic centers)

  • Health issues in China.
    Most schools have a doctor for the students.
    But the problem is that this doctor doesn't earn any money if he doesn't sell pills.
    I guess you know what that means. Well, the only thing you have to be really careful with is, the dose of antibiotics they will give you for whatever problem you have. They prescribe antibiotics for everything. Lichen even gave his son antibiotics when he was healthy... preventively. Take immunizations against Tetanus, hepatitis.... etc. Immunizations have to be taken 3 to 6 month before you go to China. I didn't take any, but I was lucky. Once I had to stay at at the hospital for 3 weeks, because they thought I had malaria. Later they found out that I had measles. (a new Chinese unknown brand)

  • Racism in China.
    Yes there is racism in China, but it's not as bad as in other countries.
    Racism in China has its roots in the national proud of the Chinese poeple.