Heng Shan Do | Winston Salem Martial Arts School

Frequently Asked Questions Print E-mail

"What's the difference between Heng Shan Wu Guan and Heng Shan Do?"

~ Heng Shan Wu Guan is the name of the martial arts school (Wu means "martial" and Guan means "school" or "establishment") and Heng Shan Do is the name of the primary style that we practice.

"Is Heng Shan Do an authentic martial art?"

~ Yes. Our origins lie directly with Grandmasters Chen Mai-Shou and Cheng Man-Ch'ing of China, and the present instructors are no more than three generations removed from those progenitors. We also include Japanese elements such as tensho and a shotokan form, bringing the influences of Grandmaster Gogen Yamaguchi and Herman Kauz, among others.

"What styles of martial arts are part of the study of Heng Shan Do?"

~ Students begin by studying the basic techniques of Kempo, a style that is both Chinese and Japanese in origin and influence. As Master Andron is known to say, Kempo is basically a Chinese style that the Japanese took and "straightened out." We begin with this based on the idea that it's easier to learn motion along a straight line than along a curve. Kempo is ideal for this, as it's "Japanese-ified" Chinese martial arts, to coin a term from TaShih Sober. As students progress, they will study forms that are rooted in the Shaolin White Crane and Tiger systems. Following that, the student will be introduced to weapons forms, Japanese Tensho, and Yang Style Taijiquan (also spelled T'ai Chi Ch'uan). These disciplines make up the bulk of the student's study prior to Black Belt. After Black Belt, the system becomes purely Chinese. Here, the student learns Tiger-Crane, Long Fist, Baguazhang (Pa Kwa Chang) and other Chinese styles.

"How long has Heng Shan Wu Guan been around?"

~ Although we have not emphasized advertising publicly, we have been in Winston-Salem for over 25 years.

"What age should I be to start? I'm worried I might be too old to begin."

~ We have people of all ages practicing. We are entirely non-competitive. You don't have to worry about grueling tournaments or competition within the class. Some would say it's a matter of intention. If your intention is to train to be an Olympic Wushu athlete, then there may be a limiting age, but we are not about training for an Olympic sport. We are about internal development and expression into the world. This is a personal matter for everyone. The only competition one will find is within oneself. As such, it's never too late to start learning. Nobody is too old to learn more about themselves.

"Do many women study Heng Shan Do?"

~ Absolutely. In fact, our class is normally about a 50/50 ratio between men and women. It should also be noted that one of the ranking Brown Belts (Brown Belts in Heng Shan Do are also instructors) is a woman, and Master Andron's wife Lillian is a 3rd Degree Black Belt. Gender has no bearing on one's progress in Heng Shan Do, and women advance just as easily as men.

"Do you spar? Will I have to fight? I'm worried about getting injured."

~ Yes and no. We do spar and it is part of the curriculum. However, light contact sparring doesn't generally start until green or purple belt. Sparring is part of learning ownership and expression, and feeling the limits of each in your movement. We always use protective gear for sparring. Again, we're interested in contact sparring, not in trying to hurt one another. A person will only hit as hard as you hit them. However, the very nature of sparring makes it impossible to exclude the possibility of injury. We can only offer that we care for the well being of anyone and everyone that walks through our doors. On our long history, injuries have seldom occurred, and we will not let you do something if we think you will be injured.

"Do I have to sign any contracts?"

~ No. We do not require contracts to join our school. Month-to-month dues are acceptable and provided for your convenience. There is, however, a waiver to sign. All such martial arts are considered high-impact, and as with any activity with a physical component, there is a waiver to sign. There is no fee contract, however. It's a month-by-month payment for your convenience, so you're not locked into buying a year's worth of class if it happens that we are not for you.

"How long does it take to get to black belt?"

~ This depends entirely on the individual. It's more a measure of how much you've grown and learned. There's no time requirement, and also no shortcuts. Brown Belt, for example, is an assistant instructor level and we've had students reach that within a few years.

"Why does it take so long to get to Black Belt? In other styles people become Black Belts in just a few years."

~ Each style has its own belt system. Some styles don't even use the same colors. For example, some use blue and red belts prior to black. We don't include these. Black belt means different things in different schools. In Heng Shan Do, black belt is a high level of attainment. Some styles teach the forms, then grant black belt. Then refine the techniques once the student has reached black. We use a more traditional system, refining the techniques, developing internal power and speed as one advances on the way to black belt.

"How far can I realistically expect to advance?"

~ The reality of modern life is certainly different from that of the masters of ancient China. As such, this causes many prospective students to doubt the possibility of attaining real mastery. The fact of the matter is that just as the martial arts have never stopped developing, neither have the methods of teaching those martial arts. We find that we have kept up with the demands of the times and that we can efficiently learn and teach valid, authentic martial arts in the modern-day world. In short, your progress depends entirely on how far down the rabbit hole you're willing to go.

"What should I wear to class until I get my uniform?"

~ Loose, comfortable clothing. A t-shirt and sweat pants or shorts, for example, would be fine. It is our tradition to not wear any given color until one has earned the corresponding belt. We realize that until a student has acquired a uniform, it may not be possible to completely observe this custom, but if at all possible please refrain from wearing black clothing to class.

"I, um...I've forgotten how to tie my belt."

~ It happens. Just show up to class a few minutes early and we'll be glad to go over it with you.

"Do you offer private instruction?"

~ Yes, there are a number of us available for private tutelage or instruction. Contact us for more details.

"What can I expect to get out of practicing Heng Shan Do?"

~ At the most basic level, the benefits of martial arts are self-defense and a good workout. You'll certainly find both of those here. Moreover, many of our students find that Heng Shan Do is conducive to good health and general well-being, as well as increasing their ability to remain in equanimity, and to regain it when it's lost. It is our aim to not simply turn students into fighters but to provide them with the tools that will allow self-mastery. Master Andron has said that it all comes down to focus. Students who persist in practice will develop the ability to focus their entire being toward whatever end they choose - and we hope that will be a spiritual end. However, it's ultimately up to the student.

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