Shang De Tai Chi Praying Mantis Martial Arts Association
The Shang De Tai Chi Praying Mantis Martial Arts Association teaches the Tai Chi substyle of Northern Praying Mantis kung fu and Yang family Tai Chi in a traditional atmosphere.
The school is led by Tom Ng, a disciple of Chiu Chuk Kai (Zhao Zhu Xi). Sifu Ng was one of Sigung Cihu's "fighting disciples", and was taught specifically with technique application as the most important aspect of the art. Most of the classes are taught by Sifu Ng's disciple, Benedict Ma. Sifu Ma studied Hung Gar for roughly 20 years before becoming a disciple of Sifu Ng.
Typically, classes are attended by 4-12 people, with Sifu Ma leading the class. Sifu Ng attends only on weekends, though his pending retirement in Jan '06 will most likely allow him to attend more often. Class begins with a warm-up designed to foster cardio, basic punch drills and stance work taking around 20min, then forms for roughly 30min, fighting drills for 30min, and then 'free time' for students. Classes run as long as students continue to want to stay and train. The atmosphere is congenial and students are encouraged to push themselves.
The school is a non-profit organization and none of the instructors are paid a salary. All dues paid go to maintaining the building and other expenses. The instructors teach for the love of it and do not care overly much if students do not take to their instruction methods.
The author of this review attends the school and has a few insights about it:
There is almost no alive drills as part of the main curricula for junior students. Alive drills are entirely up to the senior students to organize, though the sifus will watch them. The school places a large amount of responsibility on students to do their own exploration and push themselves, rather than wait for someone to make you do something. This is the school's main drawback, at least as far as Bullshido is concerned, and it is a large one if you're expecting school-sanctioned sparring for all levels.
Forms are taught rigorously, and there is a strong emphasis on form development. Forms are each broken down into their component techniques and senior students are encouraged to use them on each other. The school is extremely traditional and skill at execution of the techniques that comprise the forms is emphasized over quantity of forms known. Typically a student can expect to be drilling 5 forms for the first 2 years. The forms are taught as methods by which to generate speed and power generation and no emphasis is placed on aesthetics.
The instruction is exceptional. Sifu Ng was sought out and invited to be head instructor at a local school run by other kung fu instructors of varying styles due to his skill. The sifus are able to break down movements from forms and will apply them to you in an alive environment if you want to see it used, though they really only do this for senior students.
The only mumbo-jumbo secret they teach is Pai Da - Iron Body training. You can skip it if you don't believe in chi and don't feel like giving up sex and booze for 8 months+. They encourage straight forward asskickery over chi-based anything.
Saturday 10am-11am (children's class)
$60/month unlimited attendance
$630/year unlimited attendance