Ever since I started practicing Kung Fu I have been following Master Yan Xin on YouTube. His videos are really inspiring and motivational. Master Yan Xin is the co-founder of Kungfu.life and is a 34th generation Shaolin disciple. He trained in the Shaolin Temple (Henan Province, China) from a young age, and in 2001 he started to share his knowledge and teach students in England. Now Master Yan Xin resides in Dublin, Ireland and continues with his passion for Kung Fu teaching.
When Master Yan Xin posted an announcement video that he was coming to The Netherlands for seminars, I got really excited! When I dropped the link in our school app group, Olaf, Maarten and Danny immediately agreed to come along. We ordered tickets for the first two seminars (both on the same day), because going multiple days wasn’t possible for us. In total there were 7 seminars spread over three weekends:
- Seminar 1: Shaolin Ji Ben Gong – Stances, Strength & Sanda (from 10:00 till 11:30)
- Seminar 2: Tiger Form (Hu Quan) (from 13:00 till 17:00)
- Seminar 3: Soft & Hard Qigong
- Seminar 4: Shaolin Da Mo Jian
- Seminar 5: Jiu Jie Bian – Nine Section Whip
- Seminar 6: Shaolin Ji Ben Gong – Flexibility & Kicks
- Seminar 7: Qi Xing Quan
Our journey this day started around 8 in the morning when we left Groningen. The destination was Eerbeek, a town where the seminars took place (about 1,5 hour drive). The weather was great and we were driving an awesome Volvo 240 oldtimer, so it felt like a small road trip. We were looking forward to meeting Master Yan Xin and immerse ourselves in the day ahead of us.
Seminar 1: Shaolin Ji Ben Gong – Stances, Strength & Sanda
The first seminar started at 10:00 with short introductions by initiator and organizer Patrick Willemse and Master Yan Xin. After that we did a short warming up followed by some stretching. Master Yan Xin recommended to incorporate these stretches in our every day routine because they are really effective. The seminar didn’t cover a diverse range of stances, but instead we focussed on technique. We learned about posture, footwork, balance, stability and power.
One stance we did practice was the Horse Stance, also known as Ma Bu (Mandarin) and Sei Ping Ma (Cantonese). It is a common posture in many different styles of martial arts. In wushu (Chinese martial arts) the Horse Stance is used for endurance training as well as strengthening the back and leg muscles, tendon strength, and overall feeling and understanding of “feeling grounded”. It is a wide, stable stance with a low center of gravity (source: Wikipedia).
We stood in Horse Stance for 30 (very long) seconds, which was pretty painful (even a week later). Another exercise was walking forward and backward while in a Horse Stance, which is really hard to do!
The seminar ended at 11:30. Unfortunately there was no time left for Sanda (Chinese boxing). But after 1,5 hour of stances and stretches this was probably for the better 😉 Instead we spend some time outside to rest and recharge for the Tiger Form seminar.
Seminar 2: Tiger Form (Hu Quan)
I was really looking forward to the second seminar: Tiger Form. The Tiger is one of many animals that influenced Kung Fu through the centuries. I noticed that in Shaolin Kung Fu there are many different ways to walk the Tiger Form. And we were about to learn the Tiger Form created by Master Yan Xin himself.
The seminar started at 13:00 with a warming up. Master Yan Xin explained about the characteristics of the Tiger and how they can be applied in Kung Fu. What really stuck with me was that he told us to “be a Tiger” when practicing the form. Not only the body should move like a Tiger, but also the mind. This became really clear when Master Yan Xin demonstrated the form. His focus, movements, face expression, eyes, sounds… everything relates to a Tiger going for its pray. It can look very aggressive, but also very gracious a the same time.
Throughout the afternoon we practiced sequences of kicks, punches and blocks. We kept repeating every sequence for a while, and moved the next one. At first for me there didn’t seem to be any connection between the sequences, but after a while it became clear that together they would make the Tiger Form!
When we completely covered the form, we had some time to practice it on our own. After that the group (around 25 people) was split up in smaller groups (4/5 people) to practice it together, helping each other to improve. After 4 hours (!) of Tiger Form and a few inspiring closing words by Master Yan Xin the seminar came to an end.
A big thank you to Master Yan Xin for sharing your knowledge with us. We really enjoyed the seminars, it was fun and we learned some cool new stuff. We are still practicing the Tiger Form when we can!
Many thanks to Patrick Willemse from China Sports & Culture for organizing the seminars. And also for providing us with a Nine Section Chain Whip, even thought we did not participate in that seminar. One tip for future events, make sure there are photo’s taken from all angles. We were somewhere far away in the background most of the time.
Last but not least, I like to thank Olaf, Maarten and Danny for making this a day to remember ?
The video below shows some highlights from the first day (seminar 1 and 2).
And some pictures of our journey…