Coventry, England - University of Warwick Zhuan Shu Kuan
I've been training at the University of Warwick Zhuan Shu Kuan club since 1999, and in short, I find it to be a good stand-up style (padwork, regular free sparring), but it lacks grappling and has traditional trimmings (forms, linework, fixed spars etc) I could happily do without. I'd say that the big advantage the club has, at least over others at the university, is that its the only one which builds up to full-contact sparring, regular padwork, the main instructor has been teaching there since 1985 and he also has experience in door work, in the ring and (briefly) in a cage.
Class always start with a warm-up, which will vary. However, normally it will be a load of press-ups, sit-ups, leg-raisers etc followed by stretching (with particular focus on the legs). Occasionally, Glen Cudjoe (the main instructor, who takes the Sunday classes) has what he calls a 'turkey-burn' (so-called as they are often held in the first class back after Christmas) which is basically non-stop exercise for the first 30mins to an hour of the class. More generally, the focus on fitness tends to be good, possibly due to the army background of the other instructor, Rod Richardson.
After that, again it varies, but thinking back to when I started it was usually linework - punches/kicks/elbows/blocks in riding stance, forward stance, back stance etc. Depending on the day and the venue, this is sometimes exchanged for two-person drills to improve things like conditioning, flexibility etc - e.g., a conditioning drill would be something like one person kicks to the head, the other person takes it on their forearms, then switch. It can also be less painful, with the much more agreeable exercise of alternately kicking each others ribs. For flexibility, it would be something like one person moves in and crescents, the other moves back, then vice versa - this oftens gets a spinning crescent added to it.
If its near a grading, we'll also go through the syllabus during class, which would be forms (all from changquan, so I'm told), compulsories (mostly kicks from back stance, but varies depending on grade) and fixed spar (set two man offensive/defensive drills - e.g., one person steps forward with a punch/kick, other blocks. This again varies with grade, eventually becoming throws etc).
On Thursdays, we do a lot of padwork. Generally this will involve moving round a circle doing different things at certain points. E.g, punching combos, front/turning/side kicks, or when Rod (the other instructor, who takes Tuesdays and Thursdays) is feeling more spectacular, he might add some jumping/spinning kicks to the routine. There also used to be an exercise where the room is split into four corners, which feature punches only, kicks only, grappling (generally no submissions, though, so I guess thats more wrestling) and all combined (though unless the individual has some groundwork experience, they will generally stay standing up in a free spar. While the instructors are both familiar with the ground - Glen has a brown belt in judo - it isn't often taught in class). Having recently taken a few warm-ups myself, I've tried to institute more 'alive' padwork, where the person with the pads varies strikes by angling the pads, keeps moving round to simulate footwork and break rhythm, and occasionally smacks their partner in the head and sides to test their defence. This is an exercise Rod often uses in holiday sessions outside of term time, which is where I first came across it.
At the end of the class, there is usually a free spar, depending on the point in the year and the ratio of beginners to seniors. The colour belts line up on one side, and then the beginners choose one to spar – occasionally, the beginners will sit out after a few rounds, then the colour belts will spar each other. The contact varies depending on the level of the people sparring, working up to full contact for the more experienced (non-ZSK stylists often train with us, as its a university club, especially kickboxers).
Finally, in terms of competition, there isn't a great deal. However, Glen has fought under various rule sets (san shou, for example) - I've uploaded a few videos of his fights into my gallery on here. A couple of students also entered a campus muay thai tournament back in 2004 (although the set-up was a little strange); videos of that can be found on the University of Warwick ZSK website. So I wouldn't feel I was being honest if I said the club had a full-contact fight team, as its not a regular thing, but we do have full-contact fighters, and sparring in class builds up to full-contact (though generally only strikes). Also, it does state on the website (in the 'Fighters' section) that the club actively encourages people to compete in full-contact competition - Glen is more than happy to train people up for it, but perhaps because of the transient nature of university clubs, not many students who are willing to undergo the preparation.