Kung Fu in Boulder (NOT Colorado Shao-lin Do)
About two weeks ago, I began to attend a school called the Shaolin Hung Mei Pai in Boulder, Colorado. The head instructor is Shifu Solow. The website is http://www.shaolinhungmei.org/.
Now, I'm not reviewing the school because I haven't really been there that long. But I would like to give my two-cents about it. I would also really appreciate if anyone who has attended it, witnessed a class, heard about it (good or bad), or who has any knowledge of it whatsoever and/or anyone who has good working knowledge of Chinese martial arts as a whole could offer their opinion regarding anything about the school and/or style.
Can someone move this to the correct forum? I thought I was in the Chinese Martial Arts forum.
First off, I feel the need to point out, it is my honest belief that they are not a McDojo.
The Bullshido article regarding finding a good martial arts school gives the following warning signs of how to spot a McDojo:
(All of these are copied and pasted from the original article: http://www.bullshido.org/Finding_a_g...al_arts_school)
a) There are more then one or two children under the age of sixteen running around with black belts on. This indicates they promote the students in their kiddy program often and early. The school will tend to water its training down to this classes level, for example no contact in their sparring.
No kid has a blue sash (The color ranking of sashes is Red-->Yellow-->Blue), nor do any of them even have yellow.
b) They let these kids teach their lower ranking belts.
The only people who instruct are the shifu and the blue sash students. Those students also go back and forth between working on their own material and assisting those that they see need help, so it's not really formalized teaching.
c) They have people under the rank of Brown belt teaching their beginners.
d) They make extensive use of pre-black belt students to teach their full classes, typically for free.
The Shifu heads every class, without exception. If someone is visiting to the day, he'll answer their questions, and go back to explain various things, but he makes sure to spend most of the time on the floor walking around and helping people.
e) Emphases is placed on teaching "life skills" to the children, and other students rather than combat skills. This is typically done under the guise of promoting a family atmosphere, or building the respect and focus needed to become a black belt. The bottom line is you can buy your motivational tapes directly from Tony Robbins and you shouldn't be paying your kid's martial arts instructor to tell him to clean his room.
The class never makes any reference to anything done outside of class, period. There is, however, the option to participate in the Lion and/or Dragon dance. These are non-martial art activities (the training takes place before the martial arts class) and are done given the schools HUGE emphasis on knowledge and proliferation of traditional Chinese culture; I would not consider them an attempt to teach "Life skills" to anyone.
f) Their sparring is no-contact, both for beginners and for advanced students.
I don't know much about the sparring. I know that it isn't standardized in the curriculum, but after class students can (floor space permitting) spar with each other with head, foot, and hand gear.
g) Advanced Students only do "point sparring". A form of light contact sparring in which they simply have to touch their opponent, and the match is restarted. This encourages REALLY bad fighting habits.
h) The higher-ranking students who are not yet fifty or sixty are quite out of shape, this indicates that the art isn't physically taxing enough.
This is the most physically demanding martial art I have ever taken. After these two weeks, I am in better shape than I have been for a very long time.
i) People need permission from the instructor to hit the punching bag in the school when class is not in session.
I don't know if you have to; before and after class, I see various people using the punching bags, and as far as I can tell they didn't ask, nor have they broken a rule for not asking.
j) Students above the rank of yellow and orange belt, are flailing around and their strikes show no focus or power.
The moment any student shows a lack of control without focus or power, the Shifu gets on their case. When learning anything, the Shifu emphasizes the need to imagine a target when doing to motion.
k) The instructor wastes more time in class talking about himself rather than instructing.
The Shifu never talks about himself, at all. If it weren't for the main website, I really wouldn't know any details about him.
l) The school mixes children and adults into the same class, bad idea, they need to be taught using different methods.
Okay, they lose a point here. There is no separation based on age. However, there are only 4 or so students that appear to be below 16.
m) The school says that it teaches multiple martial arts, Karate, Aikido, Bando, boxing, and does not have a separate class for each of these disciplines. "Well we teach the Aikido through our Karate class", yeh, right!
The only thing they teach is their own kung fu. The school itself is also used by a Tai-chi class, but that class is under a different instructor and organization.
n) The school teaches Extreme Martial Arts, also called X-MA. This crowd pleaser involves the more gymnastic side of martial arts and while kids love the flashy kicks, it's worthless for self defense.
o) A good indication of a McDojo is the ridiculous amount of trophies. While not always true, if a place holds tons of trophies and medals everywhere, it generally tends to be McDojoish. Ridiculous uniforms are also not a good sign. It indicates the school likes to play dress up, which is the first step towards "Live Action Role Play".
The school has no trophies whatsoever. The uniform is a yellow t-shirt with the school logo (which the Shifu really emphasizes not wearing outside of class as he is terrified of someone seeming like they are advertising), dark grey athletic pants, and athletic shoes.
p) Goofy stances equals goofy fighting. Real people generally don't fight like insects or dragons.
Lost another point. It has large emphasis on the horse stance. But hey, this is Kung Fu.
q) The school or its leader has an at home study program that gives rankings to those who study via DVD and or videotape from home.
No such material. All things are done at the school.
r) The Instructor discourages or forbids you against going to open martial arts competitions where you will compete against members of other schools. Similarly he prohibits you from cross training in other martial arts, Gee I wonder why?
I honestly don't know because I've never asked.
s) Schools, typically Kung Fu Schools, that train people using Chi or Qi for self defense. While such internal energy may exist, we are unaware of any documented example in which such internal power was successfully used in a real fight, sport or otherwise.
The only mention of Qi I've heard was during my initial class viewing; the Shifu was talking about different forms and said something along the lines of "Snake forms are traditionally supposed to be good at cultivating qi"; it was an off-hand comment at best, and he hasn't mentioned it again after that.
t) Many McDojo websites put up kanji symbols without understanding what they mean. Find someone who knows Japanese, (on forums like these), and see if the Japanese is actually legitimate. Its hard to have a legitimate Japanese Martial Arts lineage when the words on your certificates make no sense in Japanese.
No Japanese, the school is Chinese. I don't know Chinese. However, more than three-quarters of the students are Chinese, and speak it fluently to each other. The Shifu seems to have very good knowledge of Chinese as well.
u) The school teaches ATA Tae Kwon Do, or Ninjitsu, we've had more complaints about these two styles then anything else. For information on the ATA see:
v) The instructor will not let you view a regular martial arts class before you sign up. Most McDojos will not do this but if it happens this is an extremely bad sign. And no we're not talking about their advanced class, we're talking about viewing the one you'd be placed in as a beginner.
Nope. I viewed one before I joined.
w) The instructor teaches grappling or mixed martial arts (MMA) mostly, or primarily based on his exposure to a video tape or video feed instructional system. Systems exist (see John Graden's Prostar) which will provide canned lessons to an instructor with no background in these arts. However for grappling arts like Judo or Brazilian Jujitsu it usually takes about two years of hands on instruction and training for most people to start to master the small but important technical details that make most techniques work on a resisting opponent. Many members at Bullshido.net would suggest avoiding an instructor who would teach you grappling or MMA based on their own video based instruction.
Nope. See above comments.
Whew. That was exhausting. The main argument against the school being a McDojo is that the Shifu (and all students) has a non-martial-arts job. The tuition is too low to be a commercial enterprise and none of the many, many Chinese martial arts seminars hosted at the school have fees attached.
Okay! Well, now for the class itself:
The class is cheap. There is a yearly $60 tuition fee (to be paid each January) and then there is a monthly fee of $45. The classes are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 7:00pm to 9:00pm, and Sunday from 9:00am to 11:00am. The $45 fee includes any and all of those classes. The fee is paid each month, and I have yet to see a contract. The facility itself is wonderful, and includes a large floor area and a loft with various work-out and practice equipment. It also has a conference room for seminars.
The class structure is pretty consistent: the first hour is spent doing warm ups (stretching, running, sit ups, push ups, and form drills) and the second hour is training involving the individual student's material (Students are taught different forms depending on their body-size and general mentality; for instance, a thin and timid student would probably not learn any tiger forms). The class is very physically intensive and I for the first week, when I walked away from it, I was close to collapsing.
The curriculum, as previously mentioned, differs from student to student (The blue sash students I think have knowledge of most all of the forms, for instruction purposes). However, the base forms remain the same for everyone. They primarily involve the horse stance, and the left and right front stances. There is a massive emphasis on balance and focus, as well as proper form and posture.
Now, I might seem biased toward the school; I'll be honest, from what I've seen, I am. However, I would also like the opinions of everyone who knows about it or about Chinese martial arts to give their opinion.
What does everyone else think of the Shaolin Hung Mei?
Last edited by Lanner Hunt; 7/09/2009 6:50pm at .
Reason: Noticed where the thread was.
I have been looking into this school as I may be relocating to the area soon. I am actually looking for something in Fort Collins but this is the closest I have been able to find. Do you still attend the school? How is/was your experience? Etc. Any info you can give would be extremely helpful. Thank you.
This thread is 2 years old, its very unlikely OP will answer unless he gets an email saying there was a reply to the thread, then he could answer you.
I recommend you to try it out by yourself and decide whether you think its a good fit or not. :))
also introduce yourself in this forum, maybe somebody can help you find a good school near fort collins.
Thanks for the feedback.
I figured as much but couldn't find any way to contact the poster directly (is there a PM option here) and figured it was worth a shot. I was intending to post a thread in regards to my question but have been trying to sort through other posts first so as not to create a duplicate.
Appreciate the advice though.