FAQ

Can I come try out a class for free?

You bet. Not only that, you can come to as many classes as you want for a whole week. Checkout our schedule and drop by a few minutes before anything that looks interesting.


What age students do you accept? Can I train with my family? Do you have a kids program?

Our classes are definitely adult-oriented and we generally find students aged 14 and up are best prepared for the physical and mental demands of Shaolin training.  That said, we’ve also found that younger students training with a dedicated family member or guardian can be very successful.  Our general policy is students under 12 who wish to attend regular (non Youth Program) classes must be accompanied by an older training partner.

We’ve also found that families training together can be very successful and have a lot of fun (and have some great examples to prove it!).  If you have a family of 3 or more and would like to train together please contact us to discuss how best to accommodate your group.

Click here to find our more about our Youth Program for students ages 8-12.


How much does training really cost? Are there contracts, testing fees or other hidden costs?

All of our memberships are on a monthly subscription basis with no contracts, cancellation or registration fees.  Students participating in our External Curriculum will be required to purchase a uniform within their first month of training or prior to their first test.  These range in cost from $40 – $80 depending on style. Testing is also only applicable to the External Curriculum and involves a two part process with multiple dedicated instructors and personalized feedback. Even so, our testing fees are very modest and designed only to cover the cost of this additional instruction time.


Is there a specific time in the class cycle when I should start my training?

No. The classes are designed for you to begin at any time, so don’t hesitate to come see for yourself if the ancient art of Shaolin Kung Fu is right for you!


What is the sparring like? Are there competitions?

We do not have any competitions. Shaolin Kung Fu is not a sport. The free sparring, practiced both in pairs and larger groups, is a strategic exercise working on intelligently applying the techniques you are learning in class in a fast-paced, safe and creative environment. As a laboratory for exploring the effective application of techniques, you are allowed to work on a much wider variety of applications than would normally be emphasized in a competition-oriented sparring environment.


Why do you wear Japanese uniforms and use a Japanese belt system?

When Grandmaster Ie fled to Indonesia it was a time of severe persecution for Chinese people in Indonesia. Chinese weren’t allowed to use chopsticks, have Chinese names or practice Chinese martial arts. In order to fool the authorities, Grandmaster Ie called the art “Shaolin Do”, and dressed his students in Japanese uniforms, and thus was able to teach the art. We continue to wear the Japanese uniforms today both for their durable affordability, and as a reminder of how close our art came to dying in the last hundred years.

In addition, the Japanese style uniform is virtually identical to what the monks wore when training (crossed tops, loose pants and colored belts to denote rank). Historical resources such as the frescoes from the Thousand Buddha Hall at the original Shaolin temple show this in their depictions of the martial monks training. The frog-button, silky uniform that people often associate with Kung Fu is actually a relatively recent innovation, dating to the late Ching dynasty. Hence these fancier types of uniforms are both less historically accurate, and ill-suited to the intensity of traditional Shaolin training.


How is Shaolin different from other martial arts like Tae Kwon Do, Karate, and Jiu Jitsu?

Shaolin Kung Fu is much older than all of these arts, so it has had a much longer time to develop an advanced repertoire of effective fighting techniques. It has been said that all martial arts come from Shaolin. This refers to the fact that many other styles were created by someone wishing to share their exposure to Shaolin’s fighting methods with a new group of students. The application of Shaolin Kung Fu is pragmatic and ferocious with an emphasis on the elegant delivery of finesse-based techniques.


Is Shaolin Kung Fu suitable for women?

Absolutely. In fact, there is a renowned history of Shaolin nuns who were phenomenal martial artists. The founder of Wing Chun, the style of Kung Fu that Bruce Lee studied, was a Shaolin nun.

The techniques developed in Shaolin Kung Fu were designed for a smaller practitioner to defeat a larger more powerful attacker through superior skill, strategy and technique. Studying Shaolin is the perfect preparation for a woman seeking effective and universal self-defense skills.

In addition, the class environment at the school is open and accepting: there is no separation of men and women in the training, sparring and learning. All students who train at the school have access to the same opportunities and challenges.


Is Shaolin Kung Fu applicable for self-defense on the street?

Definitely. The techniques taught in Shaolin Kung Fu have been combat tested for generations, and instruction at Portland Shaolin Center emphasizes a full understanding of the applications behind all of the movements taught.


I have no previous training in martial arts. Will I be able to do Shaolin?

Yes. Our training methods are specifically designed to take someone with no experience and expose them to a wide range of skills that made the Shaolin warrior monks famous throughout all of China. The system has proven successful for students over the course of 1500 years. There’s no reason it can’t work for you!