Having been living in China for a short while now, I’m starting to get to grips with many things and working out how things are done here. However, one thing I have failed to yet understand is the martial arts scene. Where are the martial arts classes in Shanghai?
Living in a fairly ‘westernised’ area there is a lot on offer that would’t normally exist in the rest of the city. Things like an Irish bars, American Ice Cream Parlours, Fancy Waitrose style supermarkets, where you can pay £10 (equivalent) for a small punnet of cherries, etc etc. These areas do have a variety of martial art schools ranging from BJJ, Karate, Taekwondo, but all taught in English and mainly Foreigners training there and all with extortionate prices. There must be some Shanghai martial arts classes?
Now you see a lot Tai Chi, Chi Kung (Qi Gong), health based exercises being done all over the place on the streets, in parks, outside shops, inside shops, but no kung fu. You also coudln’t really call the majority of these classes, as it mainly people training by themselves or in a small groups of friends, but no leader or teacher.
I have a seen a handful of Kung Fu classes in parks, with a teacher but they don’t appear to be regular and you’ll see only them mainly on national holidays, like Dragon boat festival or Chinese New Year. How do people learn their chosen styles. It’s a mystery to me.
Now, there are a big sports universities in Shanghai that apparently teach excellent kung fu, but only for enrolled students. I early on looked at signing up for a random cheap course just so I could train there, but I think I actually had to turn up to the lecture and study, no thanks. Also you have the schools out in Shaolin, Dengfeng and Wu Dang Mountain but both are 1,000 miles away.
I got chatting to a local fairly recently and asked him about kung fu, “are there any classes” I asked “Yes, of course, lots and lots, everywhere, my friend does kung fu, it’s very popular in China” Great, I’m thinking “Where are they” I ask, starting to get to the limits of my poor Chinese. “I don’t know, I don’t train” So that’s the end of that. I’ll keep searching.
Time Out has a list of the Top Shanghai martial arts classes Click Here