Chin Woo Kung Fu Journey 2010 by David Chan

Beijing. “Ice Cream, Den Yoiiinnnn” she sang as we waited for the show to begin. Pretty pink and white, ice-cream carry box and all, she was young, cheerful and bubbly with rosy red cheeks. One of those people who could easily have been forgotten as quick as the show had started but instead, she is still remembered by many of us as being the cherry little ice-cream girl who provided us all with pre-screening fun and entertainment. She was great! And we had in an instant, mastered how to say “ten yuan” in a northern Chinese accent.

Moments like these are the little gems that you invariably find when embarking on an expedition such as the Chin Woo New Zealand Kung Fu Journey.

Since 2002 and every four years since, the Chin Woo Athletic Association of New Zealand has embarked on a 2-3 week journey to Hong Kong and China. In the inaugural journey of 2002 the group of 20 spent 14 days exploring Hong Kong, Futsan and Guangzhou, each place a heavyweight in China’s great martial arts heritage. The group trained with some of Hong Kong’s most illustrious Sifu, exchanged with students and masters in Futsan and gained sneak previews into South China’s top professional Wushu Athletes in Guangzhou.

But the fun and enjoyment of any great expedition is not only measured by the places that you plan to visit. Often it is what happens in between, places that are ‘off the radar’ and things that can certainly never be planned for. Take for example the time that, following a hearty banquet dinner and with bellies full of Chinese wine, all 20 of us were invited back to one particular Sifu’s home to perform and exchange kung fu. Having unknowingly delayed our departure from the restaurant, we arrived at his home close to midnight and not surprisingly poor Sifu had fallen asleep waiting for us. His son hosted us and we were treated to fabulous demonstrations of traditional Chinese martial arts and weapons by his students who had shown up, pretty much in their nightwear to welcome us. Luckily for us, the cool night air and obscurity of the whole situation had a sobering effect and we managed to reciprocate giving various demonstrations of our own – drunken fist not.

Fast forward four years and the group for the 2006 Journey had swollen to 40 strong and comprised Chin Woo members from a vast array of kung fu styles. This added to the flavour of the trip and provided for a most enjoyable and wide ranging variety of Chinese martial art exchanges and performances.

On this journey, the itinerary had expanded to include not only the southern Chinese cities mentioned above, but also a 10 day adventure to North China. We visited the capital city and cultural epicentre of Beijing, conquered the Great Wall, visited the birthplace and resting tomb of the great Chin Woo founder Huo Yuan Jia in Tianjin, shopped in Old Shanghai and sampled some of Chinas finest Tea in Suzhou and Hangzhou.

One impression that will never leave me are the times spent with my Sifu listening to her recount stories of her training days a long time ago. Once it was while sipping hot soup at a small roadside eatery in Futsan late into the evening. It sounds odd writing about these experiences but they have brought me a stronger connection to my training and the heritage it enjoys, a deeper sense of belonging and appreciation for the road the art I study has taken to arrive in Aotearoa.

For serious students of Chinese martial arts the Journey offers a unique experience to deepen your understanding of the cultural elements of the arts that we rigorously pursue. It can offer opportunity to see other flavours of your art, to broaden your understanding and appreciation of other arts and importantly to grow as a person and martial artist. Many friendships are born out of these journeys.

The next Chin Woo kung fu journey is scheduled to take place in December 2010, the centenary year for the world Chin Woo movement. While details are still tentative, early indications are that the journey will not only include revisiting some of the main martial arts attractions in South China but will also include a trip to the buried terracotta army in Xian as well as the famed Shaolin Temple in Henan Provence.

In addition, the Journey will be visiting Shanghai, the venue for the 2010 World Expo.

If you are interested in finding out more about these journeys please feel free to contact me or simply ask other Chin Woo members who have previously attended. Early registrations are being accepted and for more information please email me

The first group to travel on Chin Woo New Zealand Kung Fu Journey in 2002….

The second group in 2006….

This short clip features some of the highlights from the first Chin Woo New Zealand Kung Fu Journey.

For more clips of the 2006 Kung Fu Journey please visit the Videos section.

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