School of hard knocks

Updated: 2011-07-08 10:41

By Zhang Xi (China Daily European Weekly)

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School of hard knocks
Rising Dragon Martial Arts School students can learn a variety of disciplines for a monthly fee of 430 euros. Photos Provided to China Daily 

British kungfu master fights hard to set up his own martial arts academy in China

A trickle of glistening sweat runs down the face of kungfu teacher Scott Bird as he chants out commands to his eager young students. It is 5.30am at his private martial arts school, which is nestled in East China's tranquil Fujian countryside and rays of morning light illuminate the mist floating on the nearby forested-mountaintop.

Bird pauses to breathe deep, watches his charges go through the motions, and then takes in the spectacular view. He smiles.

The young British martial arts master realizes he is living his dream.

Like many young foreign expats, Bird's main reason for coming to China was to hone his kungfu skills but rather than return home, he stayed and in 2007 opened his own school in the small county of Taining, population 130,000.

In the land of kungfu, his Rising Dragon Martial Arts School is a rarity. It is one of the only such learning centers in China that is managed by a Westerner and teaches only foreign students.

Fees cost about 4,000 yuan (430.58 euros) per month and 40,000 yuan for a year and includes six hours' training per day, three daily meals, accommodation, Mandarin classes, calligraphy lessons and 24-hour Internet access.

Since 2010, his business has lifted and more than 400 students have passed through his doors. The boom in enrolments is keeping Bird very busy, and he starts his day at 4.30am.

"Apart from training I always have a dozen emails from potential new students to answer, look over any new work I might have going on at the school and just generally making sure everything is running smoothly and everyone is happy," he says.

Frenchman Pierre-Hubert Colin, 21, Briton Ben Phillip Taylor, 23, and Swede Pontus Lindh Ohlsson, 19, are three such happy campers.

Colin has been at the academy for more than one year in order to gain fitness for his future military service. His weekly routine involves 35-hours' training with proper Chinese masters. "I find this experience really amazing because there is no way I could find this sort of school back home," he says.

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