I’d spent three intense years coaching in jeet kune do—an expression of martial arts Bruce Lee developed—earlier than lastly making it to Leung Ting Health club in Hong Kong’s neon-lit Yau Ma Tei neighborhood. Amongst fruit and jade markets, a slim staircase leads as much as this dwelling piece of historical past. It’s named for one of many final disciples of Grandmaster Ip Man, certainly one of Lee’s most influential lecturers, who helped popularize a 300-year-old kung fu type referred to as wing chun.
Leung Ting Health club doesn’t usually permit guests or drop-in college students, so it’s a deal with that my concierge on the Rosewood Hong Kong has introduced me this far. By way of a small window on a mustard-colored door, he and I watch in awe as three college students carry out the round and linear hand motions of chi sau. Cantonese for “sticky arms,” it’s a relaxed, fluid approach to diffuse the vitality of an attacking opponent, a centuries-old lesson in grace underneath strain.
Peering in, I take into consideration wing chun’s founder, a Buddhist nun named Ng Mui from China’s legendary Shaolin Temple. Her preventing system tailor-made for smaller individuals has emboldened me as a 5-foot-2 Asian-American girl.
Once I began coaching, I assumed it will simply be one thing to apply at residence. However as I discovered at Leung Ting Health club, martial arts of their unique context are a compelling portal into different cultures, every motion intertwined with heritage and philosophy. In France there’s savate, a nineteenth century kicking artwork that advanced from Parisian avenue preventing however has the magnificence of ballet. The extremely environment friendly krav maga utilized by the Israeli navy was developed by Jews in Nineteen Thirties Czechoslovakia to defend themselves in opposition to violence. Filipino martial arts is an attractive however lethal apply that needed to masquerade as a cultural dance after Spanish colonists banned it within the Philippines; now it’s acknowledged as a nationwide treasure.
A number of forward-thinking resorts right now are harnessing the martial arts business—which racks up an estimated $4 billion within the U.S. every year—as a approach to meet vacationers’ calls for for genuine journey experiences. An invite right into a grasp’s personal world can really feel just like the sort of real insider hospitality that many vacationers search; it’s as culturally enriching as museums, theater, or meals.