Brooklyn, NY - Zhang Yuan Chinese Martial Arts
Zhang Yuan Chinese Martial Arts has made the local newspaper, spread awareness of Wushu around the community, and to a lesser extent, the borough. The only thing wrong with this place... no actual fighting, really.
I was around 14 years old when I joined, and wanted to learn about an aspect of chinese culture as well as learning how to kick ass. Boy, that went well. What attracted me to this school was the huge amount of awards/trophies (Looking closely, they were for forms.) and the students' flexibility and talent compared to mine. I left in March or April 2006.
NOTE: This is a long review; if you can't be arsed to read through all of it, just skip to the bottom with the reasons I quit and the ratings.
Well, if you're deciding to join, it's probably because you want to learn something about Chinese culture (Which you can read in a book), want to become flexible (Yoga), learn aerial spins/tricks, or you are clueless, but i'll not judge you.
Like above, the higher belts here are very flexible, and a few can spin around in the air. Their forms are clean and 'artful', and they are pretty approachable people.
The classes do not stress much cardio (Unless you consider forms cardio) nor any resistance training/muscle building. That leads to the majority of students having little stamina, if they only excercise in the school. There is a very heavy(Meaning 100%) emphasis on forms, armed and unarmed. There is no sparring, from what i've witnessed, more on that below.
Up-Close and Personal:
Now on to the meaty part of the review.
When I joined up, I could do most of the excercises, notwithstanding the splits and such excercises. The students were polite, pretty easygoing as well as the Sifu, who knew little English. Learned a few basic forms, no real problems.
Got to red belt (3rd level), which is interesting, considering that CMA's do not have belt rankings. Kiddies were abundant, could've been about 10-20 or so in there, I almost thought it was a daycare. The fee for a month of unlimited classes each day was $150, which is a little too much, but at least there was no contracts. Big McDojo.
I learned a weapon form as well as some lenghty unarmed ones. But that's what they were, forms. I can only recall 'hitting' stuff twice since i've been there, one time kicking bags, the other grappling against a compliant opponent. Though San Da was listed on the school's schedule schedule, a San Da class was never held for the duration that I was there. Funny thing is, he made me sign a injury waiver when I signed up, despite the fact that no one actually hit anything but air.
The sifu himself really did not teach much either, he had his students teach, relying on the excuse that he was old, and a random part of his body hurt. The few times he did teach, he could do the/his forms perfectly.
There were two things that really alienated me from this place, I would've still been there had these problems not shown up. Also around this time was when I stumbled onto Bullshido. The idea of aliveness really hit home.
After a year or so I became distant from everybody there, mainly because they were semi-cultish LARPers and anime freaks. Basically, if you did not watch anime or Carlos Mencia (Basically 'funny' racist shows), or was skeptic of the practicality of the technique shown, they really didn't speak to you. One of the students thought he was teh deadly because he knew wushu. Nope, sorry, Wushu is only for show- but he didn't get that.
Second, the sifu grew too commercialized. He always had photo shoots of his students, including me, to promote his school in magazines. He has appeared in a few issues of Black Belt Magazine. Always did this every few months and got sick of it. I paid for classes, not to pose for pictures. Had us go out to perform at random venues, never really any combat; only form evaluation competitions (or dead 2-man forms).
After I left Zhang Yuan's school, he started branching out to New Jersey. His website became more commercialized, he has changed to a per-class system of payment.
I feel that Zhang Yuan is not a bad person, nor his students. But I have a problem with calling graceful, dance-like movements Martial Arts. To all his students that stumble onto this page, this is the reason I quit, I understand that I probably won't be liked there now.
Aliveness: No sparring. Period.
Equpiment: You don't really need equipment. Maybe some weapons and school shirt.
Gym size: You don't really need too much space to prance around.
Instructor/Student Rating: Zhang Yuan has his students teach.
Atmosphere: while full of anime fanatics, the students are pretty much okay.
Striking Inst: By striking instruction, you probably mean forms. Almost nonexistant.
Grappling Inst: Only had 1 grappling class, and it was crappling.
Weapons Inst: Tons of weapon forms.
Last edited by Televators; 3/04/2007 10:19pm at .
It seems you views of wushu are really clouded. Wushu translated means "military art". You even stated yourself, wushu is only for show, why the **** would you be sparring? In my class, the seniors tried out for the Olympics and placed as high as third place, one of the seniors in my class also went to china to be in a movie. Kiddies are abundant in my class, but it doesn't really matter, as they can do aerial cartwheels, not just "prance around" as you said. Oh yeah, the kiddies and seniors are only in the same class during the summer, as most of the people who come from China to train in my class leave back for China during the summer. :car20:
Last edited by thehunter; 8/28/2007 4:28am at .
Hence, "military", implying some degree of fighting/contact.
Originally Posted by thehunter
Why was it advertised as Chinese Martial Arts Center? That's a relatively vague term, is someone looking at the school supposed to know that it's "only for show"?
Ok, now can they fight? These are notable accomplishments, but I reiterate: Can they fight?
In my class, the seniors tried out for the Olympics and placed as high as third place, one of the seniors in my class also went to china to be in a movie.
I could care less if they could do aerial cartwheels, that proves nothing. Speaking of proof, provide some. Tell me how many kids (Kid referring to >10 years of age) can do cartwheels.
Kiddies are abundant in my class, but it doesn't really matter, as they can do aerial cartwheels, not just "prance around" as you said.
Bullshit. there may have been less kids during the school year but there were still many nontheless.
Oh yeah, the kiddies and seniors are only in the same class during the summer, as most of the people who come from China to train in my class leave back for China during the summer.
Kinda late on the reply but..
I go to this school. Thursdays is San Da, I used to go on thursdays before Classes conflicted.. . In San Da we did spar, there was contact. We had sparring gear, gloves, head gear, and body pads... We practiced takedowns and throws.. some were similar to judo throws. There is also no ground fighting in San Da as the ref stands you up after a throw or takedown.
Maybe you just never went on thursday?
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