Two months since I've left Maling Shaolin Kung Fu School (from here on referred to as 'Maling').
I've had time to write and reflect on my nine months there. It's time for an official review of the school.
Maling Shaolin Kung Fu School
Price Per Month: $790
Price Per Year: $5350
(NOTE: Things could change at the school from the time this review was written)
I stayed at Maling for a total of 10 months. I paid for a full year at a discounted "2020 School Anniversary" price.
The Headmaster of the school was a man we referred to as "Master Bao". During my time at Maling I didn't really get to know Master Bao until the last two months of my stay (where I was the last student). Instead, most of the visa extensions/trip planning was done by a woman named Lisa Guo. She would help all of the students with any issues involving visa, travel planning, buying things, and more. Classes were taught by a variety of masters. Master Peng mostly taught our Basics Class, Wing Chun, and Power Stretching Class while Master Yan mostly taught our Sanda Class, Xinyi Quan, and Power Training Class. Tai Chi, Baji Quan, and Qi Gong classes were taught by Master Ning.
Having the wide variety of teachers and classes was nice as it allowed students to "attach" themselves to the teacher that suited them best.
The only problem that I faced during my time there was that there wasn't an interpreter for classes. Lisa Guo spoke good English and Master Peng and Ning spoke some English as well. During my time at Maling I became the 'unofficial' translator for the school which improved my Chinese but it wasn't what I was planning.
This is where Maling suffers.
The school is large and is supposed to hold thirty students at a time. While I was there, the school had 20 students at the most but usually we had 10-15 students. With this amount of students (plus staff) the building constantly faced power outages. This was one of many problems with the school.
The other problems were mold in some of the students' rooms, broken bathrooms/showers, poor training equipment, the walls were falling apart, poor heating, electrical outlets not working, and an unfinished training building.
Most of our training was done outside or in the original training room built on the main building. The "new" (not finished) training building was rarely used due to the fact it wasn't finished being built yet and it was very dusty which caused breathing problems for some students.
(NOTE: The Corona Virus did effect our school heavily, I've taken that into account for this review)
In the beginning, classes were great. There was Morning Tai Chi which would then be followed by breakfast. Next would go two hours of training either Basics/Forms or Jumps/Sanda. Lunch would arrive which was 2-3 hours long depending on the season. Followed by another 1-2 hours of training. There were optional evening classes (Wing Chun and Baji Quan) which could extend your training time by another 1-2 hours. After all of that was a period of rest then dinner.
Thursdays were special in that we would do Power Training in the afternoon. Fridays we would do a 10 km Run and then clean the school. Some times the schedule would change slightly due to a master being out or because something was happening (performance, meeting etc).
During my 9 months my body got used to the training. I showed improvements in flexibility, agility, coordination, and learned a lot of cool Kung Fu. Almost everyone at the school lost weight. Some more than others. I was one of those that lost a lot of weight (not meaning to), going from 72 kg to 65 kg.
Overall, I enjoyed the classes provided. The only thing that I dislike was the lack of cultural classes which were offered to me at my time of paying. There were no Mandarin classes, no Wushu Theory classes, no Massage, and no Daoism/Buddhism classes.
Since my time at Maling, they have since updated the site to reflect these changes but I still feel a bit disgruntled.
The diet at Maling is... bland to say the least. You get used to the rotation of rice and various salty veggies that you're given. It fills you but nutritionally it isn't enough. You'll want to bring money for your own side snacks and weekend excursions. What is good about this diet is it makes you appreciate the food outside the school way more. As said before, many students lost weight but many of us also faced stomach issues and diarrhea. A lot of diarrhea.
Outside the school there are places to go and see. It all depends on how far you want to go. Walking distance, there is the village of Cao Liu Cun (曹留村) where you're able to buy snacks and basic sanitation goods like toothpaste, soap, and towels. Further away (you'll need to take a Tuktuk or taxi) is the town of Wang Zhuang (王庄村) which has some supermarkets, restaurants, and stores. This was our go-to spot for getting weekend food and drinks. Cheap but delicious. Further away (taxi ride 30-60 mins) is Xinyi which is a small city. Has a lot of stuff like KTV, Cafes, Malls, Big Supermarkets, Computer Stores, Restaurants, and more.
It was trips to these places that helped us keep our sanity and energized for the next week of training. Letting loose on holidays was always fun but it's up to the students to find out ways to relax and kill time.
Word of advice, Winter at Maling isn't fun.
Maling Shaolin Kung Fu School is a good place to start your Kung Fu training.
It is one of the cheaper Kung Fu Schools in China but remember that you pay for what you get. The food provided isn't the best and the building has many problems.
If you're looking for a more long term training into Kung Fu then I would look some where else. If you have a short term plan or just testing your interest in Kung Fu then I believe Maling will suit you well.
Just make sure there will be other students there when you arrive.