Wannabe warriors to help kung fu camp kick off
Kung fu aficionados can live like warrior monks - go vegetarian, train like crazy, and sleep on hard beds - for just $120 a day when Hong Kong's first Shaolin martial arts school opens in Lantau this summer.
The chairman of the Hong Kong Shaolin Wushu Cultural Centre, Jonathan Choi Koon-shum, said recruitment for the first courses in June had begun.
Local high schools have been urged to send students to a camp teaching martial arts, Chinese medicine and Buddhism, led by three warrior monks from the Songshan Shaolin Temple in Henan .
'Children can learn classics such as shiba luohan shu [18 hands of luohan], hongquan [red fist] and wu zu quan [five ancestors' kung fu], while adults can do xi sui jing [brain/marrow purification] and yi jin jing [muscle/tendon changing],' Dr Choi said.
'If public demand exists, we will even hire instructors to teach tai chi. Unlike the mainland, where courses are conducted in Cantonese and Mandarin only, everything we do will be in Chinese [Mandarin with Cantonese translation] and English.'
The one-day package costs $120 and includes a bunk bed in a shared room, three meals, kung fu lessons and a guided tour of Tai O. Students get a certificate of completion when they graduate. For those looking to stay longer, extra costs apply.
The school's star trainer, Shi Yankang, is the hand-picked kung fu teacher of Russian President Vladimir Putin's daughter.
Located near the site where Bodhidharma - the Indian monk credited with creating Shaolin's martial arts and zen philosophy - visited Lantau more than 1,500 years ago, the centre hopes to provide as authentic an experience as possible.
'Legend has it that Damo [Bodhidharma's Mandarin name] stopped in Lantau to pick up supplies during his trip from India to Guangdong. We believe he passed through Tai O,' said Dr Choi.
'So to make sure nobody affects the sanctity and atmosphere of the place, there will be a regimented schedule of when to eat, train, rest and sleep. Healthy vegetarian meals are served.'
He said minimalism and closeness to nature were other principles behind the Shaolin spirit.
'Our facilities are limited. If people want to stay for months, they have to be content with no more than sunrise and sunsets between training and meditation.'
In addition to dormitories and training fields covered in artificial turf, the 50,000 sqft site will have a canteen, gardening area, and tea house. Statues, texts, art works and architectural books from Shaolin will be displayed in a hall.
Following its soft launch in June, the school will build what it calls 'a grand landmark building' to be unveiled in November.
Designed by a local architect, it promises to be an eye-catching tourist attraction that combines Shaolin architecture with Japanese Zen philosophy.
'The centre, which has a maximum capacity of 90, will be more than just martial arts. We hope to train the mind, as well as the body,' Dr Choi said.