We randomly decided to spend a few days at Nam Yang retreat, having had no previous martial arts experience.
The classes were excellent, a nice mix of physical training, fighting and weapon techniques with some chi gong, stretching and meditation. The classes were suitable for people of all fitness levels and martial arts experience.
Food is delicious and very healthy, a lot of it grown on the retreat too.
Having never seen any Kung Fu in real life, Master Ian is truly inspiring. Amazing technique, flexibility and all round wise Zen master!
We booked to come back and spend at least 2 weeks here after. Something different that you won’t regret!
An intense burst of old style Kung Fu in an amazing mountain setting. Live eat and train in a real kung fu school with genuine enthusiasts. Three days packed with training that will give you an insight into this fascinating ancient art and leave you feeling fitter and fresher. A chance to learn some useful skills and exercise techniques which you will be able to continue practising.
- Training 3 times a day
- Tiger Crane Combination Kung Fu
- Sun Frost White Crane Internal Art
- Qi Gong
- Train with experienced professional teachers, including Master Iain Armstrong
- Breath taking location in the forested mountains of North Western Thailan
- No application fee.
- Easy visas!
This course is run by Nam Yang Puglistic Association, founded in Singapore in 1954 by Great Grand Master Ang Lian Huat and dedicated to passing on the real arts of old China. Nam Yang has now become an international community with branches in Thailand, UK, Russia, Italy, and Germany.
Train with experienced professional teachers, including Master Iain Armstrong in relaxed, constructive atmosphere. Leave your ego behind and become part of the community. This course is taught for Westerners. Here in Nam Yang we understand what you need. Complex concepts are explained in clear English by experienced teachers. There is no need for translators.
In a 3 day stay you will immerse your self in the culture and lifestyle of Shaolin Kung Fu and experience for your self what it is all about. You will learn:
The basics of Sum Chien (3 wars) – the famous Shaolin internal strength routine.
The Tong Ling Chi Kung routine for health, relaxation and energy.
Bodhidharma’s Vein Tendon Chi Kung for tendon power.
The walking meditation and four step routine from the Sun Frost White Crane Internal Art. (video).
Some good insights into self defence.
Pushing hands: a safe introduction to practise with a partner.
After 3 short days, you will feel fitter and healthier, enhance your confidence, maybe experience a small weight adjustment, improve your flexibility, de-tox your body, and enjoy your self.
|DATE||Available all year round.|
eg. Arrive any Saturday 2.00pm, Leave Wednesday 10.00am
|FOOD||Breakfast daily and evening meals on training days
Meals are planned for maximum benefit to health and are really tasty. Most of our food is vegetarian. Meat appears on the menu about twice a week but there is always a vegetarian alternative. The food is very health conscious and contains a lot of fresh, locally grown vegetables, beans and fruit. Our food is really high quality and very health orientated – it is of a much higher standard than that served at most martial arts schools. We serve the same food to students, teachers and masters and their kung fu benefits greatly from it.
- 06:00 Morning training in Chi Kung, the Frost Sun White Crane internal art, the Sum Chien (three wars) internal strength routine, Kung Fu technique and combinations, old style Kung Fu exercises with a partner for stability, timing, distancing, coordination, and balance, how to disarm an attacker with a knife, stick, or bar, control and restraint techniques, joint manipulation, and pressure points. Break halfway through for Chinese tea for questions and answers and a talk on Chinese philosophy and wisdom
- 09:15 Breakfast
- 11:00 Midday training. Supervised practice time finishing with a meditation session, incorporates pushing hands and optional use of Nam Yang’s Kung Fu gym followed by a lunch break
- 15:30 Physical session. Warm up, then work on stretching and strengthening the fascia
- 16:30 Technical session. Practice on the routines, including the Shaolin Weapons. Pushing hands. Traditional Kung Fu fighting skills. In-depth training on topics such as breathing, developing the internal organs, training the senses, taking control of your emotions, adopting the right mindset, developing speed, power and accuracy.
- 18:00 Dinner then rest time
The Pai valley is an area of incredible natural beauty. High in the mountains, it epitomises the kung fu dream of training in pure, fresh air with awesome views well away from the distractions of modern life and the pollution of modern cities. We are a 5-10 minute ride / drive from the centre of town. Pai is a tourist town with very many amenities and a lot going on. There is every opportunity to hit the town and have some fun when you are not training. There are places to go walking in and around Pai. There are also small villages nearby were you can visit, as well or the other option is to go to a trekking tour which they do in Pai.
5 days of accommodation + 3 days of training
Shared room for 2
We accept bank payments in Thai baht, US dollars or pounds sterling. Cash payments should be in Thai Baht.
We require a 40% deposit where the 60% balance is paid upon arrival at the Retreat.
My wife and I spent almost a month at the retreat and we had an amazing experience. We arrived with zero knowledge of martial arts and were amazed how much we learned in less than a month. The school is very accommodating for beginners, and has a wonderful community of students and instructors. The learning goes beyond fighting Kung Fu and brings valuable improvements to life in general. This was one of our best travel ideas, so I can highly recommend it.
One of our greatest strengths is the quality and experience of our teachers. We have one of the best kung fu teacher line ups in the world. Our principle teachers all speak absolutely fluent English and are used to teaching westerners as well as Asians.
1. Grand Master Tan Soh Tin
Head of Nam Yang Pugilistic Association.
Master Tan is one of the world’s leading authorities on old style Shaolin kung fu and one of the very few old Chinese kung fu masters to speak fluent English. He has been training in Shaolin kung fu for 59 years now. He was born in Singapore to Chinese parents during the second world war and has seen great changes during his lifetime.
Master Tan’s knowledge is an encyclopedia of kung fu. More than this, he has the depth of wisdom which is always expected of an old school kung fu master but is seldom found.
Master Tan usually stays at the Kung Fu retreat from December to January and during May – June. Please mail us for details.
2. Master Iain Armstrong
1st disciple student of Master Tan, head of Nam Yang’s UK branch and two times world champion.
Master Iain is famous for his high quality kung fu teaching, his instructional films and magazine articles and for the extremely successful competition and demonstration teams which he coaches. He is a mine of information but retains a very practical, down to earth, and realistic approach.
Iain learned his fighting skills on the streets of South London and has never forgotten those lessons. Over the years, he has coached the British full contact team, judged the world championships, washed in broken glass, been hit with a tree felling axe in front of 10,000 people in Trafalgar Square, met the queen of England, organised a lion dance for 10 Downing Street and promoted professional fight competitions.
He writes a column for ‘Combat’ magazine, sits on the executive committee of the BCCMA (British Council for Chinese Martial Arts) and is the organizer and chief referee for the Britain’s traditional kung fu and lion dance championships.
Iain is charged with running the Nam Yang Mountain Retreat and is present for 8-9 months each year, usually from May – September and late October – February. In between these times he teaches at the Nam Yang schools in a variety of countries including the UK, Italy and Russia.
3. Master Dougal Simmons
Senior Student of Master Tan and instructor at Nam Yang Pugilistic Association, Singapore.
One of the few westerners to be accepted as a kung fu instructor in a predominantly Chinese community such as that in Singapore. Dougal has an excellent memory for routines and a wealth of experience from his many years in Singapore.
Dougal, along with other kung fu teachers, makes periodic visits to the Kung Fu Retreat.
We believe that our masters are the best because they all have very many years of real, traditional kung fu training behind them, are all loyal and dedicated to our association and know how to handle themselves in a real fight, not just in training.
Jan is a highly dedicated martial artist who excels in a wide range of skills. A fast learner and ‘Kung Fu natural’ he has a wealth of training and experience with the Nam Yang family and serves as a great example of the Kung Fu spirit and ethics. He recently decided to leave Europe and fully dedicate himself to training and teaching Kung Fu. He has a big repertoire of techniques from the Tiger Crane combination and the Shaolin weapons and a deep understanding of meditation. If you ever get overwhelmed with learning new moves and routines, Jan will always be happy to assist you. His natural, patient way of teaching will help make your stay at the Kung Fu Retreat a truly great experience.
Jan is based permanently at the Kung Fu Retreat and often leads the teaching.
Elements of training – the Shaolin arts
Tiger – Crane Kung Fu
Fast, accurate and deadly, the tiger – crane combination is a classic southern Shaolin style which emphasizes intricate hand techniques thrown from a solid, stable stance.
Being close to the original Shaolin white crane, this style emphasizes the use of touch sensitivity to connect to an opponent and feel their movement and intention, countering them immediately when they initiate a move – before it can become dangerous. It also uses “springy” power generated from the tendons rather than the muscle – the hallmark of genuine Shaolin Kung Fu.
The tiger-crane stance is fairly high allowing for mobility and fast stepping. The hand techniques are thrown from close range so as to maximize their chances of success and generally target weak points where they will have the greatest effect. At an advanced level, springy power from the tendons can be used to generate a power which penetrates deeply into the body and affects the internal organs – ask an instructor for a safe, controlled demonstration!
Benefits of practicing the tiger crane art include:
Toughening of body to resist blows
Packing chi into the internal organs so as to rejuvenate them and make them healthy, resilient, and resistant to being struck
Building elastic power into tendons so as to be able to deliver fast, super powerful blows
Expansion of lung capacity leading to greater stamina and a healthier body
Replenishing of essential chi in kidneys which counteracts aging
Manipulation of the spine: opening of joints and chi flow
Training of the eye to keep vision sharp
Rejuvenating facial muscles and pressure centers to look healthy and young
Developing positive body language
Sinking chi to the lower tan tien (chi center) to give clearer thinking, calmer attitude, and less stress
Training the use of the most advantageous body mechanics so that skill can be used to overcome strength
Development of touch sensitivity and training to react to touch for fighting
Sun-frost white crane (Shuang Yang)
Usually referred to as ‘Shuang Yang’ for short, this is the internal form of the white crane art. It is performed in a very soft, relaxed way, gently opening the chi flow in the meridians, training elasticity into all of the tendons and massaging the internal organs. Whilst superficially very similar to Tai Chi, it is part of the Buddhist Shaolin tradition, rather than the Taoist Wutan tradition.
Many people practise the Shuang Yang primarily to benefit their health, vitality, and longevity. Whilst the slow, gentle nature of the training make it ideal for older or less fit people, make no mistake: this is a genuine martial art.
The Shuang Yang art uses mostly the bow arrow stance – a longer stance than the tiger crane art. Weight is sunk down and movement is generated from the core of the body, moving out to the limbs like a wave through water. Training connects all of the tendons in the body into one resilient, elastic network with incredible strength. All movements are performed with the whole body. Shuang Yang training is particularly suitable for China – the Chinese art of twisting joints, pressing pressure points, and sealing off the flow of breath or blood.
As a crane art, the Shuang Yang develops touch sensitivity and encourages sticking to an opponent, neutralising their attacks and then countering decisively.
Benefits of the Shuang Yang art:
Shuang Yang training gently stretches and releases the body’s tendons in a slow rhythmic fashion, increasing its strength, and stimulating chi to flow.
Shuang Yang practice involves a great deal of flexing and twisting in the torso, as well as opening the meridians and energizing the tendons, which strengthens muscles which we do not usually use. It also wrings out and cleans the internal organs, pushes fluids along their course and manipulates the joints of the spine, keeping them moving freely to promote a healthy spine and body.
Shuang Yang training is performed in a meditative state and is a genuine “meditation in motion”. It requires sinking of the chi, calming of the mind, and breathing from the core of the body. Regular practice greatly improves health, vitality, and combats aging.
Weapons have always featured strongly in Shaolin Kung Fu training and are one of the most popular parts of the syllabus – even in the modern era. Training starts with simple basics such as how to stand, grip the weapon etc. and extends to cover simple and advanced moves, strategies, tactics, target areas etc.
The weapon training is not just ‘show style’. The genuine art of weapon use for combat will be taught. Unlike in many other cultures, the Shaolin weapons were still used for war very recently, such as by the Chinese army in WWII and by Kung Fu groups as recently as the 1970s. Some of the teachers here at Nam Yang have direct experience with these weapons – this is not something which you will find in many schools.
Benefits of Shaolin weapon training include the following:
Weapon training teaches us to extend our concentration and our energy (chi) beyond our bodies into the weapon. This means that when we go back to freehand training, it is very easy to get our energy right down to our hands and feet.
The training works like a sort of weight training: performing with weapons, especially heavy weapons, strengthens our muscle and tendons and conditions us to exert more power.
Many techniques are complex and intricate and develop our co-ordination: this is particularly true of the double weapons.
Heavy weapons require a great degree of stability and balance so as to be able to wield them with speed, power, and accuracy. This provides excellent stability training.
Soft Chi Kung
Many of us are vaguely aware of the great benefits of Chi Kung meditation to our health and longevity but don’t really understand how it works. Here is an overview:
Chi circulates around our bodies, in a daily cycle, mainly but not entirely through pathways called meridians and vessels.
Chi is stored in energy centres / reservoirs called tan tiens.
The two main sources of chi are the Earth (yin chi) and the sky (yang chi).
When the chi in our bodies is circulating freely, and is balanced between yin and yang, we will enjoy good health.
Opening the meridians through stretching exercises and guiding chi through them facilitates strong, smooth circulation of the chi.
Drawing in fresh chi from the earth and sky keeps our chi plentiful and allows us to balance yin and yang.
Expelling stale or excess chi keeps our chi fresh and prevents it becoming excessively strong.
By its nature, Chi Kung (also known as Qi Gong or Ki Gung) is simple and easy yet amazingly effective. Anyone can practice it successfully, regardless of age or fitness. The essential requirements are a properly trained instructor and good, fresh air. The basic Chi Kung system taught is Tong Ling (clearing and circulating) Chi Kung.
Martial Chi Kung
Martial Chi Kung goes a step beyond Chi Kung for health. It develops abilities well beyond those of normal people. Mastery of this type of Chi Kung is what enables martial arts masters to perform such “super human” feats as punching the ends off bricks, washing in broken glass, rubbing red hot metal, and being hit with hammers and axes. There are a number of different systems of martial Chi Kung:
Vein Tendon Chi Kung is a simple but effective system which tones all of the tendon in the body and increases its elasticity so that it can store energy.
Tat Moh Chi Kung is a straightforward system which emphasizes reverse abdominal breathing and therefore trains elasticity into the internal organs, energizing them and making them resilient to injury.
The Sum Chien routine from the Tiger – Crane Combination Art is perhaps the most powerful exercise for martial Chi Kung. It involves building elasticity into the whole body and then using it to store energy in the lower tan tien (the lower Chi energy center of the body), releasing it in explosive bursts down to the hands, and then returning it to the tan tien to be used again. It incorporates reverse abdominal breathing and exercises absolutely all of the tendons in the body.
Martial Chi Kung can be learned by people of reasonable fitness, male or female. It takes regular training over a period of time to achieve a high level of skill, but the exercises can be learned in a relatively short space and then practiced anywhere.
Martial Chi Kung has the following benefits:
It packs chi into the internal organs, strengthening them, energizing them, and making them resistant to injury/disease.
It replenishes essential chi in the kidneys, combating ageing and greatly increasing vigour.
It builds springy, explosive strength which can be released at short range to produce large amounts of power
Meditation forms an intrinsic part of the training program. Generally you are taught how to perform simple, safe meditations and then encouraged to practice them in their own time, quietly and comfortably. On nights of the full moon, a special meditation together at midnight is practiced directly under the full moon.
The meditation taught include:
Chi Kung focusing on circulating the body’s chi microcosmic orbit
Relaxing the whole body
Fostering internal awareness
Improving vitality and life energy
These can be combined with natural or reverse abdominal breathing. Full moon meditations take advantage of the pure yin energy which emanates from the moon at midnight (the most yin hour) when it is full (the moon’s most yin phase). These special meditations give us an amazing charge but are best practiced under supervision, at least to start with! The complement to the full moon meditations is the practice of Chi Kung just at sunrise on the day of the new moon, taking advantage of yang energy
The self defense training is very practically based and can be tailored to suit the individual. What is emphasized is avoidance as opposed to confrontation (it’s much safer) and techniques which do not inflict serious injury (killing or maiming an attacker is likely to get you into very serious trouble in most countries, especially if they are a local).
Practical self defense involves forward planning, awareness, positive body language, quick thinking, diplomacy, and confidence. Physical confrontation is a last resort. If it does get physical, take downs and restraints are both good options – they prevent an opponent from hurting you without inflicting injury on them. It may be necessary to disarm them first. The defense techniques that are taught are based on Kung Fu, Chinese boxing and a great deal of experience. The training, which is simple and effective, will enable you to travel without fear.
Workout and stretching
Conditioning and flexibility are vital for any martial artist. At Nam Yang Mountain Retreat, morning meditation and soft arts are complimented by approximately 1 hour of active workouts and stretches in the afternoon to improve endurance and elasticity. Conditioning routines are borrowed from various martial and athletic disciplines to maximize stamina, cardio, and strength improvement while maintaining safety and a mind for technique.
Stretching routines employ methods from both Kung Fu and yoga to greatly improve joint and muscle flexibility and teach body relaxation. Students often notice significant improvements in flexibility and elasticity after leaving the mountain retreat.