Like many fellow Americans, Colin Malick used to think kung fu was more of a “Hollywood thing” rather than martial arts.
But after arriving in China last year and taking up lessons at the Shaolin Tagou International Communication Center in Dengfeng for eight months, the 23-year-old has realized that kung fu is not child’s play.
Malick, from the US state of Oregon, said he trains for six to eight hours every day.
“We have to get up at about 5:30 am and run 3 km to the Shaolin Temple to exercise before breakfast,” he said.
Malick became interested in martial arts after watching movies of kung fu star Jackie Chan. His father’s girlfriend, who is Chinese, told him to learn Shaolin kung fu.
Malick said his dream is to become a police officer, and learning martial arts can improve his physical condition.
His martial arts course costs about $10,000 a year, with the training fees, accommodation and food included. There are currently 11 foreign students learning martial arts at the center and 9,800 foreigners have studied there since 1997.
By performing at many international events, the center has attracted more international students, said Liu Baoshan, founder of the Shaolin Tagou Education Group.
Won Zong, a 15-year-old Korean-Frenchman, said that he was studying Shaolin martial arts under the orders of his mother to become more independent.
The campus is better than what he had expected, he said.
Shen Jia, a coach for the international students, said that some foreign students were homesick at the beginning, but he always encourages them to persevere.
“Many foreign students thought that it would be fun to learn martial arts, but actually it’s tough and tedious,” he said.
“After all, Shaolin Temple is not Hollywood.”