Kung Fu-n: Learning Kung Fu

Shao Lin 2

When we moved to China in 2017, our son, Lukas, was 6 years old. He had just started kindergarten at our local public school; he played T-ball, and he was excited about joining Boy Scouts, soccer, and taking Taekwondo –among other things. So, when my husband and I got jobs overseas, one of our biggest worries was how our son could live overseas and still receive a quality education and be as involved in extra-curricular activities as he wanted to be.


There aren’t many options for public/private schooling in Xinzheng. There is a full time kindergarten for children under 5 years of age, and there is a Primary School that children can attend part time during the week. The Primary School offers courses for children ages 6-14 in Chinese, English Reading, Physical Education, and Art. As you can see, this mainly leaves the parents responsible for their child’s education. Luckily, there are many options available–text and online curriculums, free online resources, and even online academies. For more information, check out a list of resources compiled by our homeschooling parents.

Extra-curricular Activities

Fortunately, in Peter Hall, there is also no shortage of extra-curricular activities. In the past, we’ve had everything from art or science classes for the school-age children to reading clubs and reading corners, academic tutoring, and swimming lessons. It all just sort of depends on the interest and investment of the current foreign faculty.

One of our newest additions to the list of extra-curriculars, however, is Kung-Fu–and our son LOVES it!

Kung Fu classes began in Peter Hall in the fall of 2018 when one of the foreign teacher’s had a child who was interested in taking Kung Fu. This foreign teacher began looking for a Kung Fu instructor and he lucked out when he found Lao Shi, Damming (Teacher Damming).

Damming graduated at the top of his class from Shao Lin Temple–only a 3 hour drive from Sias University, and totally worth a visit! Damming has also placed first in Kung Fu competitions for Henan province. He’s a wonderful teacher. He is patient with the children and helps them to learn individually as well as a group.

Kung Fu classes are performance-based; meaning, unlike many of the martial arts classes in the United States, there is NO sparring; no hand-to-hand combat. While some parents don’t like this aspect, others, like myself, really appreciate it. In performance-based courses, students still learn discipline and the skills required for hand-to-hand combat, but they don’t have to spar one another, which puts this momma’s mind at ease regarding injuries and sparring anxiety.

Damming recently opened a dojo only a few blocks from campus. He is currently enrolling children and adults in Kung Fu and other special skills courses. Also, at the end of each term, Damming has his students perform and each student earns a certificate of completion for the previous course before advancing to the next course.

Side Note: Speaking of Shao Lin…

If you get a chance to visit Shao Lin Temple while working at Sias, you should DEFINITELY take it. It’s a great way to bring Kung Fu alive for your child–or for yourself–as well as being a good introduction to yet another piece of Chinese culture.

Meet the author

Kayla Dean is an Arkansas native who moved to China with her husband and son in 2017. Kayla graduated from Arkansas State University in 2011 with her M.A. in English, and she currently teaches English Composition for Fort Hays State University at Sias. In her free time, Kayla enjoys singing, reading post-apocalyptic novels, writing some poetry or fiction of her own, and spending time with her growing family in the great outdoors.

*Author photo credit to FHSU*

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