Shaolin Kung Fu Studios, Myrtle Beach SC
I was inspired to write my own review after reading about their sister school in Long Island. The consensus is that they claim to teach Shaolin Lohan (considered the main style at the Shaolin Temple for many years), but it may very well not be the truth. I have yet to investigate further into the claim, but the resources I have on Shaolin Lohan don't match the training I did at this school. The style is not necessarily bad, but I would like more honesty in what is being taught.
My experience comes from training at this school for 6 months in 2013, going to an average of 2 to 3 classes every week. Please keep in mind the time frame I was there (1 1/2 years ago) when considering this review as things may have changed since then.
The workouts are typically BRUTAL from a physical fitness perspective and we did a lot of cool body weight training exercises including balancing a staff on our thighs while holding a deep horse stance, or holding buckets out at arms length for what seemed like FOREVER. After PT, the class typically went into basics training and line drills. Then it was usually forms training or compliant 'self defense' drills. All in all, classes typically lasted over two hours and it was a lot of fun. HOWEVER, there is definitely an emphasis on the "ART" and not so much the "MARTIAL" aspect of it. My main reason for leaving was I did not agree with this philosophy: in my mind, form must always follow function, not the other way around.
1.) Aliveness: During the entire time I was there, the school NEVER sparred, and this bothered me to no end. Any partner drills we did were fully compliant and we RARELY struck targets (I saw kicking shields a handful of times)
2.) Equipment: there were kicking shields on hand and some spare staffs. Wooden buckets were used for a variety of exercises. I also never saw mats. Other than that, you had to bring your own stuff.
3.) Gym Size: They teach out of a decent sized yoga studio.
4.) Atmosphere: Everyone was very nice and helpful, but there is a definite air of elitism about their style among the senior members. A kind of "My martial art is the superior fighting style!" kind of attitude you see in Kung Fu flicks. Which is silly considering I kicked a shield maybe twice my six months I was there. I sure gave the air something to cry about.
All kidding aside they also had regular meetings to discuss philosophy and watch kung fu movies... so there is this definite sense of family and brotherhood.
5.) Striking: Training was primarily striking based, but as I mentioned before, it was never to a target or done with very compliant partners.
6.) Grappling: Their website boasts Chin-na and Shuai-Jiao but we did very little training in either. I don't recall learning much Chin-na from here and maybe a handful of takedowns. No ground fighting was ever done. Not enough emphasis on this range, in my opinion.
7.) Weapons: The staff was a regular at class and that was about it. I saw some of the upper class men working with butterfly knives and spears during the open mat time we sometimes had at the end ... but other than that very little weapons training. Training was forms or compliant. I remember doing disarming drills against a staff once.
All in all, the school has its strengths and some glaring weaknesses. It wasn't practical enough for my needs. If you are looking for self defense or fight training, I'd look elsewhere. Its nowhere near a McDojo (they don't have kid's classes) as the physical fitness aspect of the training is pretty tough ... but there isn't enough emphasis on actual application.