Enter the Student, Exit the Dragon: A Tour of Legendary Martial Arts School

© Sputnik / Zhanna ManukyanShaolin Tagou Martial Arts School Students
Shaolin Tagou Martial Arts School Students - Sputnik International
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Shaolin Tagou Martial Arts School, located near Mount Song (the site of the legendary Shaolin Monastery) in Henan, China was founded in 1978 by Liu Baoshan, a lay disciple of the Shaolin Monastery.

A vast complex of buildings that accommodates some 35,000 students, Shaolin Tagou is one of the largest martial arts schools in China.

While an applicant needs to be at least 5 or 6 years old to become eligible to train here, there’s no ‘upper age limit’ in Shaolin Tagou.

The school accepts students regardless of their gender, though boys and girls live and train separately, and out of the school’s 35,000 students only 3,000 are female.

© Sputnik / Zhanna ManukyanShaolin Tagou Martial Arts School Students
Shaolin Tagou Martial Arts School Students - Sputnik International
Shaolin Tagou Martial Arts School Students

People become students at Shaolin Tagou for various reasons. Some of them are unruly children brought by their parents in hopes that the school’s discipline would set them straight. Others are attracted by the fame and prestige of Shaolin Tagou. And yet there are also plenty of those who simply consider wushu a hobby or just want to become famous martial arts film actors like Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan.

© Sputnik / Zhanna ManukyanShaolin Tagou Martial Arts School Students
Shaolin Tagou Martial Arts School Students - Sputnik International
Shaolin Tagou Martial Arts School Students

The school’s regimen is strict and almost military-like: a wake-up call at 5:30 in the morning, PE, breakfast, training time, general education lessons, lunch, more training, more lessons, supper, yet more training and then bedtime.

While corporal punishment wasn’t uncommon in martial schools in the past, the Shaolin Tagou faculty does not resort to such methods: after all, in this day and age striking a child might result in a lawsuit being filed by his or her parents.

© Sputnik / Zhanna ManukyanShaolin Tagou Martial Arts School Students
Shaolin Tagou Martial Arts School Students - Sputnik International
Shaolin Tagou Martial Arts School Students

Faculty members also believe apart from learning martial arts at Shaolin Tagou, the students also build up their willpower – something that will help them in life no matter what career they may decide to pursue in the future.

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