Kick-start the summer
The Hong Kong Shaolin Wushu Culture Centre on Lantau opens this summer. It will offer martial arts training for school groups and can arrange English translation for non-Chinese speakers.
When the first phase opens in July, the centre, which is located on the site of the old Tai O Public School, will be able to host two groups of about 30 trainees each per day.
Initially, one-day training camps for schools and charity organisations will be offered at a fee of $120 per head.
The programme includes half a day of wushu training at the centre, followed by a guided tour of Tai O fishing village, focusing on the area's natural beauty and cultural heritage. The fee also includes a meal and a certificate.
Although the martial arts training will be conducted in Putonghua with Cantonese translation, English translation can also be arranged if there are enough non-Chinese speakers to fill one whole group.
'In the beginning, we will especially arrange an English interpreter if we have a group of non-Chinese speaking students, but there should be English interpreters on duty daily later on, perhaps in September or October,' said Jessie Cheung Fung-shan, the centre's operations manager.
She also said that over- night and three-day camps for families and adults would be offered after September.
Shaolin wushu is a generic term for martial arts styles that trace their origins to the Shaolin Temple in Song Shan, Henan province, but Henry Chan Pak-seng, director of the Lantau centre, said that his centre has no direct linkage with the Shaolin monastery and the monks in Song Shan. Instead, his instructors come from Shaolin martial arts schools located close to the Henan temple.
The purpose of setting up the centre is to educate young people in the Shaolin philosophy, helping them build healthy minds and bodies, while at the same time promoting Shaolin culture, said instructor Yong Xin.
Therefore, if you are expecting to learn the famous Shaolin 'Shiba Luohan Shu' (18 hands of Luohan) or sophisticated combat with a spear, dagger, sword or axe at the centre, you may be disappointed.
'We are still working on the content of the courses but it won't be anything too demanding and dangerous,' said Master Yong.
'We will design something suitable for people of all ages, as long as they are healthy. If you want to learn the more difficult styles, you need to prepare for harsh, long-term training.'
The training at Henan's Shaolin wushu schools can be as tough as the army's. Eight-year-old Fu Chong, who set a Guinness World Record at Festival Walk in January for back-flipping 30 times while standing on a giant drum, said he had cried a lot since starting training at one of the schools four years ago.
'We attend classes in the morning with subjects like language, mathematics and Buddhism - just like in normal schools. Then, after lunch, we do martial arts training and that's the tough part,' said the tiny 'Chong Chong', who demonstrated his martial arts skills at the centre's recent press launch.
'The instructors are very strict and I've cried after being scolded and when I missed home ... we can only go home for two days each month,' he said.
For more information about the centre, visit its Chinese website at www.shaolincc.hk or call 2503 6032.