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September 10, 2012

Best place in Asia to study martial arts?

Taekwondo quarter final match in Singapore Youth Olympic Games

Taekwondo match. Photo: Singapore Youth Olympic Games / Flickr

Have you ever wanted to study martial arts? One of the great things about travel is that you don’t have to settle for a “McDojo” in your local shopping mall.  You can take a journey to the best place in the world to study your fighting style.   There was an article in CNNGO titled, Asia’s martial arts capital is . . . Singapore?

When I lived in Taiwan, I met a group of guys who all studied with the same baguazhang master, Luo Dexiu. The students told me that for Chinese martial arts, it was actually better to go to Taiwan and Hong Kong, rather than China. In some cases, masters would settle in the United States and Europe because those were the bigger markets.  I would be curious to hear from our readers if this migration has happened with other martial arts experts?

One thing I noticed is that you often don’t study with the master himself.  A senior student will lead the lessons.  Meanwhile, the master will walk around the students as they perform drills; he’ll make inspections and corrections.

When I worked in China, I rarely met Chinese practitioners of martial arts.  Most students were foreigners who had traveled in to study.  This might be because I lived in Shanghai. Big-city types tend not to study kung fu as much as people in the countryside, a longtime expat explained. I did meet one Chinese guy who studied xingyiquan because his father was a master.  I asked him what fighting style was fast to learn and effective in real street fights.  His prompt answer: “American boxing!”  Although he said that in sparring matches against fighters with different styles, he thought that Thai kickboxers were the toughest to beat.

One of my British friends was a serious student of praying mantis kung fu. He had a similar comment, saying that in his sparring matches, Thai kickboxers were the best-conditioned.  On a different tack, he played down the choice of style and stressed the importance of regular training. He said something like he’d bet on a serious boxer over a lazy kung fu student any day.

Have you studied martial arts?  In which countries and schools did you train in?  Please share your experiences in the comments.

Posted by | Comments (2) 
Category: Asia

2 Responses to “Best place in Asia to study martial arts?”

  1. John Phung Says:

    I’ve studied Muay Thai in Thailand. I’ve trained at Jitti Gym, Fairtex in Bangplee and another one that I can’t remember.

    Classes are run by former fighters/champions. It wasn’t really a class where an instructor teaches the group some technique and you practice it…they more or less threw you in there with a pad holder and teach you as you go along.

    Training was done outdoors and alongside other expat/tourists/fighters. Pretty damn hot, but you get used to it. There are other gyms that are indoors, but this takes away from immersing yourself in Muay Thai IMO.

    I’ve done classes and personal training. Personally I prefer personal training because the instructor focuses all of his attention on me. It was pretty cheap too, about 1000THB (about 30 dollars).

  2. GypsyGirl Says:

    Regular training is important–I agree with your friend on that. A decade ago I was training simultaneously in three styles, seven days a week, for about four years; Budo Taijutsu, Tang Soo Do, and mixed mounted martial arts (horse archery, and sword) Though I don’t directly train in the first two any longer; it’s important to remember that any Martial Art is more a way of life and how to conduct oneself, than techniques for fighting or sparing. The schools I trained with were in the United States, but all had affiliation overseas as well.

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