New York Chinese Shao-Lin Center
My experience at this school lasted only a month, because at that point, I found bullshido and realized that I should be training at a school with aliveness and non-compliant drills. That said, I have no beef with anyone at the center or the instructor, who seems to be IMO a great guy despite perhaps the fact the he may be unaware of the limitations of his art. I have tried to keep this review as objective as possible so that people who are looking for Kung Fu or other traditional arts in New York know exactly what this place is and isn't and don't end up wasting money and time like I did. All of my descriptions pertain to the lower belt classes, as I did not see much of any of the blackbelt classes.
All of the lower belt "Kung Fu" classes, excluding the "Special Class Festivals", which cost extra and include "Classical I Chin Ching", "Technical Punching and Kicking", "Hou Tien Chi Meditation", and "Yin/Yang Conditioning and Stretching", are run pretty much exactly the same as the last. All began with a warm-up that last about 30 minutes or so and consisted of some push-ups, sit-ups, static stretching, and punching and kicking the air or practicing the "sparring techniques" (i.e. sequences of punches and kicks) also against the air.
The next part of class would involve sparring in 3 minute rounds against 2 or 3 different people, chosen randomly, followed by a round or two of sparring against multiple opponents. This is part of how I slowly realized that I wasn't going to get what I wanted out of this school. I was never bruised, only perhaps slightly tapped or more often, not touched at all during the sparring sessions. This is not to say that I was "better" than the other students, but that pulling punches and kicks was the rule. In theory there should have been light contact (according to the instructor) but often this really translated into no contact.
Finally, we would break up into groups by belts, and work on several of the 900 forms that make up the CSC/Shaolin-Do syllabus'. We would also occasionally work on Chin-Na (self-defenese/anti-crappling stuff) or the upper belts would work on weapons. Everything done in these sessions seemed highly impractical and was always practiced against a compliant, non-resisting partner. There was never any standard against which to measure if any of this stuff actually did or did not work. There were usually about 20-30 students at each class, and sometimes only the instructor and no other black belts, which meant that brown belts would teach during a majority of these final forms sessions, some of whom, it seemed, didn't remember all of the forms they had originally learned.
All in all, there were probably some people there who could really fight, but I don't consider that an endorsement of the school. What bothered me the most is that there was never any real test of these techniques against resisting opponents in a meaningful. It seemed, to me, that a lot of it was just learning forms and what not for the sake of learning forms. The vibe was OK, less bullshit it seems than many of the other Shaolin-do/CSCs, but many people took themselves and their MA way too seriously, which was also a turn off. I suppose that my recommendation would be, that if you want to get some exercise in a less-than-completely serious environment, this place is OK, but I'm pretty sure that the BS outweighs the useful in terms of actual martial arts.
Last edited by Juturna; 1/10/2009 4:50pm at .
You gotta have some big balls to have that school next to Shi Yanming's.
I think this is how all of the Shaolin Do schools are. Thats how the one here (Lexington, Ky) is run and it's thier main headquarters.
The "Chin-Na (self-defenese/anti-crappling stuff)" should definitely have been against a actively resisting partner, but I have seen this within several of the CSC's and it is a common fault. That said you often can find partners who are more willing to actively resist and make you prove your techniques are being performed effectively. I would as a result say that blame for that falls on both the partners you had, and the instructor for not encouraging people to actually test their partners more.
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