Master Yan Xin leading the students drilling the Chain Whip form

Kungfu.Life Summer Camp 2016

‘Fiiiive… Fouuuur… Threeee… Twoooo… Oneeee…’ Master Yan Xin’s “Kung Fu count down” resonates in the Lough Dan scout camp site. Even though “Kung Fu seconds” seem longer than the ticking on the clock, and despite the pain from the leg stretch, everyone tries his best to reach that little bit closer to the foot. “Feel the pain. Enjoy the pain. No pain no Kung Fu.”, says the 34th generation Shaolin disciple.

Morning is a great time for Qi Gong. As the sun rises all lives on earth re-energise. After the stretching and before breakfast, everyone moves on to “Ba Duan Jin”- 8 Section Silk Brocade, an ancient Chinese Qi Gong form known to have many health benefits.

This is the second Kungfu.Life training camp. From being only a small special training of 10 people in 2015, the number of participants double this year. Students of all levels and ages gather in this beautiful camp site of County Wicklow in Ireland. Besides his Irish students, there are Master Yan Xin’s old students from parts of England, where he has taught for a number of years. A couple of them are already running their own Kung Fu schools. Others are from various European countries like Germany, Switzerland, France and Italy having different martial arts background. There is even a total beginner all the way from Japan, who just wants meet and train with the “Smiling Master”, as she describes him!

The atmosphere is eclectic. After breakfast everybody is chatting to one another with excitement, exchanging martial knowledge and skills in a friendly and non competitive fashion waiting with anticipation for the second morning training session to start.

Master Yan Xin demonstrating foundation drill in front of the students
Master Yan Xin demonstrating foundation drill in front of the students
Train in the traditional Shaolin way
Train in the traditional Shaolin way

In Kung Fu, conditioning and foundation training are particularly important. Even the masters routinely go through them. After a short run and warm up the training starts again. The students advancing up and down the field drilling the foundation movements,Tan Tui (Flick kick/ 弹腿), Li He Tui (Inside crescent kick/ 里合腿), Wai Bai tui (Outside crescent kick/ 外摆腿), Zheng Ti Tui (Front kick/ 正踢腿)… The sweat runs down the face. The t-shirt is drenched but everyone still pushes his hardest trying to make each movement better and better each time. For the less experienced Master Yan Xin patiently coaches the movements and does the drills with them. He is strict and yet caring. He knows when and who to push more and to lay off. Everyone watches with eyes wide open in admiration when he is doing the demonstration.

Team Work
Team Work
The losing team washes the dishes tonight gets the students motivated to train harder!
The losing team washes the dishes tonight gets the students motivated to train harder!
Persistence is the key to success!
Persistence is the key to success!
Gong Bu Challenge
2 minutes Gong Bu Challenge
Kung Fu Seconds Countdown
Kung Fu Seconds Countdown

9 Section Chain Whip (Jiu Jie Bian/ 九节鞭) is the main program of this year’s bootcamp. It is one of many Master Yan Xin’s specialties. His breath taking performance can be found in the first ever Wheel of Life show, where he was the team leader.

Master Yan Xin demonstrating 9 Section Chain Whip
Master Yan Xin demonstrating 9 Section Chain Whip

Being classed as a soft weapon in the Chinese martial arts, 9 Section Chain whip is regarded as a ‘powerful hidden weapon’. Generally the whip has a handle on one end and a dart on the other, used for slashing or piercing the opponent. The techniques used in the form (Taolu/ 套路) taught in this camp are elaborate. The chain whip is flicked around the wrist, neck and leg, or flung underneath a recumbent performer (Shen Xia Guo Bian/ 身下过鞭) combining acrobatic movements such as Tornado Kick (Xuan Feng Jiao/ 旋风脚), Fish Jump (Li Yu Da Ting/ 鲤鱼打挺) and Butterfly Kick (Xuan Zi/ 旋子)…

Master Yan Xin helping the student with 9 Section Chain Whip technique
Master Yan Xin helping the student with 9 Section Chain Whip technique
Students practicing Chain Whip techniques
Students practicing Chain Whip techniques
Friendship in the Making
Friendship in the Making

Master Yan Xin’s teaching is methodical and concise. The students quickly got the hang of the techniques under his guidance. After 3 days of training, they have all pretty much learned the general pattern. By the end of the last session, they can all go through the form together.

Master Yan Xin's dog, Lele, the star of the camp!
Master Yan Xin’s dog, Lele, the star of the camp!

The evening is time for socialising and relaxation. It’s time for light stretching and meditation. Master Yan Xin’s senior students took over some evenings to give a Body Mechanics talk and some Qi Gong exercise. One of the evenings they made a camp fire and gathered around playing games and eating marshmallows. Everyone gets on so well with one another. Nobody is left alone. During this extended weekend, everyone left their daily life behind to share this valuable experience with like-minded people. In the last evening after an exuberant group chat everyone goes outside and sends off lanterns with their wishes written on them into the sky as the grand finale.

Monday morning after a quick run and going through the chain whip for for one last time, it’s time to pack our bags… So long everybody! All the best to your future training back home. We shall keep in touch and hopefully see you in the next bootcamp!

Group photo taken in front of the Guinness Lake in Sally Gap
Group photo taken in front of the Guinness Lake in Sally Gap

For more information on Master Yan Xin and Kungfu.life, please go to: www.kungfu.life