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Intensive Kung Fu Training Thailand

This program uses a clever combination of physical movement, Chi cultivation, and meditation to draw together mind, body, and breath so as to complement and strengthen each other. It delivers mental calm and focus, physical health and fitness, strong, relaxed breathing and vigorous, well-balanced Chi.

Meet the instructors

Master Iain Craig Kanika & 3 More…
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  • 3 daily training sessions
  • Tap into your natural, internal power
  • Experienced English speaking teachers
  • Immerse yourself in the genuine arts of ancient China
  • Discover how the old Chinese masters developed mind, body, and breath
  • Train in a relaxed and constructive atmosphere
  • Daily healthy breakfast and dinner
  • 4 nights accommodation

Skill level

  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

3 days with instruction
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Check-in Time:


  • Gym
  • Dining area
  • Kitchen
  • Restaurant
  • Laundry
  • Library
  • Wireless internet

During this training, you will be staying in Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat, All of the rooms are designed with serious Kung Fu students in mind. Every room has an inspiring mountain view from the front door and a roofed front terrace to sit in the shade and get the benefit of the views and the fresh mountain air. They are within the very easy walking distance of the training facilities and the restaurant.

There are two types of rooms, either shared or private. Shared rooms hold two people. They are spacious, have separate bathrooms and toilet or washrooms, and are equipped with fans. They are arranged in two buildings, each with six rooms. The front terrace is two meters deep and serves as a social area where students can relax and chat outside of training time.

The private rooms are designed for single occupancy. These rooms are finished to a high standard with tiled walls and thicker mattresses. Each "house" has two rooms which are completely separate. They are located slightly further away from the center of the retreat, which gives a quieter feel. Nam Yang also supplies communal tea and coffee making facilities and fridges.

The kitchen, gardens, and orchards provide healthy, organic food which you collect and serve fresh. They specialize in growing herbs. Whilst they are not able to grow all of your own food, you support poor farmers in the hill tribe villages by buying food directly from them at market prices ensuring that they get a good income and you get the best quality food.


This course explores the deeper aspects of Chinese martial arts and Qigong: the secrets of the ancient masters! At the core are breathing techniques which unite mind, body, and energy to produce real and focused power. You all have the strength within you. True strength derives from the fascia, rather than the muscle. It needs strong intention and clear focus to lead it out. The body works best when used as a whole, not as an isolated part. So, you will train to move your strength and energy up from the soles of your feet like a wave rising through your whole body.

This energy is Chi, or Qi, and is the foundation of a healthy body and healthy mind. Training in these ancient Chinese arts is a moving meditation in its self. It unites mind, body, and breath and is a great complement to yoga.

Real wisdom is the realm of a calm and fully connected mind. You train your minds through your bodies and connect the creative with the analytic minds, the body-brain with the head brain, the conscious with the subconscious. There is philosophy in movement. Calm, steady flow. Patient and accurate. Flexible. Healthy ‘Chi’ is healthy energy. It is the foundation of a healthy body and healthy mind. It flows through the body guided by the mind. Mind-body and Chi (breath or energy) are inseparable and need to be trained together.

It is less strenuous than the Shaolin Warrior Program and is ideal for less aggressive people, less fit, or older people wanting to concentrate more on internal development raised consciousness and good health. It is also a great way for people with a yoga background to explore ancient Chinese exercise.

The program covers five full days each week with Wednesdays and Saturdays reserved for rest, relaxation, and exploring the local area.

The course includes

  • Shuang Yang Pei Ho: the Frost Sun White Crane Soft and Gentle Art, including the cane routine
  • Sum Chien: the internal power building exercise of Shaolin Kung Fu
  • The Tong Ling Qigong (Chi Kung) system
  • Bodhidharma’s Vein Tendon Qigong
  • Meditation
  • Relaxation training
  • Qigong / Kung Fu breathing techniques

Daily sample schedule

  • 06:00 - 07:00 Tong Ling Qigong
  • 07:00 - 08:00 Sun Frost White Crane Tai Chi
  • 08:00 - 8.15 Break for freshly made Chinese tea
  • 08:15 - 09:00 A concentrated lesson covering a different theme each day including Sum Chien, the original Shaolin internal power training, Kung Fu partner training for stability, strength, etc., joint locks and manipulations, combative drills, relaxation training, Qigong face massage and meditation training.
  • 09:00 - 09:15 Stretching practice to open the meridians and release trapped energy
  • 09:15 - 11:00 Breakfast followed by morning break
  • 11:00 - 13:15 Bodhidharma’s vein tendon Qigong. Vein Tendon Qigong and further practice of Sun Frost White Crane Tai Chi. Pushing hands: touch sensitivity exercise with a partner which develops connectedness, stability, grounding, and awareness. Sticky hands: touch sensitivity sparring: practice for high-speed close range fighting. Conditioning: physical toughening of the hands, wrists, and shins to properly take and deliver impact. Further meditation.
  • 13:15 - 15:30 Midday break
  • 15:30 - 16:30 Deep stretching session. Beginning with a short physical warm up, this is a very intense stretching session with particular emphasis on hips and spine. It opens your meridians and releases bad energy, bad experiences, and bad emotions trapped in the fascia, especially around the hips. It is also great for improving posture which in turn completely transforms your dominant emotions and moods.
  • 16:30 - 18:00 Weekly ‘masterclass’ an in-depth, technical session covering a different topic each week delivered by the most senior teacher present, usually Master Iain. Small group training in the Sun Frost White Crane Tai Chi including the cane (walking stick) routine. Further training in Sum Chien: the internal strength routine. Meditation. Either fighting application followed by pushing hands and sticky hands or Qigong breathing methods and chanting.
  • 18:00 - 19:00 Dinner followed by free time. Early nights recommended.
  • 19:00 - 20:00 Friday evening Qigong practice

Shuang Yang art

Shuang Yang training gently stretches and releases the body’s tendons in a slow rhythmic fashion, increasing its strength, and stimulating Chi to flow. Shuang Yang practice involves a great deal of flexing and twisting in the torso, as well as opening the meridians and energizing the tendons, which strengthens muscles which we do not usually use.

It also wrings out and cleans the internal organs, pushes fluids along their course and manipulates the joints of the spine, keeping them moving freely to promote a healthy spine and body. Shuang Yang training is performed in a meditative state and is a genuine "meditation in motion". It requires sinking of the Chi, calming of the mind, and breathing from the core of the body. Regular practice greatly improves health, vitality, and combats aging.

Sun Frost White Crane Tai Chi

Usually referred to as "Shuang Yang" (sun frost) for short, this is the internal form of the white crane art. It is performed in a very soft, relaxed way, gently opening the Chi flow in the meridians, training elasticity into all of the tendons and massaging the internal organs. Whilst superficially very similar to normal Tai Chi, it is part of the Buddhist Shaolin tradition, rather than the Taoist Wutan tradition.

Many people practice the Shuang Yang primarily to benefit their health, vitality, and longevity. Whilst the slow, gentle nature of the training make it ideal for older or less fit people. Make no mistake, this is a genuine martial art. Weight is sunk down and movement is generated from the core of the body, moving out to the limbs like a wave through water. Training connects all of the tendons in the body into one resilient, elastic network with incredible strength. All movements are performed with the whole body.

Tong Ling Qigong

You are vaguely aware of the great benefits of Qigong and meditation to health and longevity but do not really understand how it works. Here is an overview. Chi (or Qi) circulates around your bodies in a daily cycle, mainly but not entirely through pathways called meridians and vessels. Chi is stored in energy centers or reservoirs called Tan Tiens. The two main sources of Chi are the Earth (Yin Chi) and the sky (yang chi). When the Chi in your bodies is circulating freely and is balanced between yin and yang, you will enjoy a good health.

Opening the meridians through stretching exercises and guiding Chi through them facilitates strong, smooth circulation of the Chi. Drawing in fresh Chi from the earth and sky keeps your Chi plentiful and allows you to balance yin and yang. Expelling stale or excess Chi keeps your Chi fresh and prevents it becoming excessively strong. By its nature, Qigong is simple and easy yet amazingly effective. Anyone can practice it successfully, regardless of age or fitness. The essential requirements are a properly trained instructor and good, fresh air.

Vein Tendon Qigong

Vein Tendon Qigong is a simple but effective system which tones all of the fasciae in the body and increases its elasticity so that it can store energy. It is a straightforward system which emphasizes reverse abdominal breathing and therefore trains elasticity into the internal organs, energizing them and making them resilient to injury.


Master Iain Armstrong







Thailand is a great country with a relaxed, happy positive vibe. This is why it is so popular with tourists. It is easy to travel to, easy to get around in, and easy to get by in English, unlike many countries in Asia! Very importantly, visas are easy to get.

The Pai Valley is an area of incredible natural beauty. High in the mountains, it epitomises the kung fu dream of training in pure, fresh air with awesome views well away from the distractions of modern life and the pollution of modern cities. It is easy to grow and prepare healthy, natural food in the farmland around Pai and this allows you to eat the sort of diet which best supports your training.

The Nam Yang Mountain Kung Fu Retreat School is designed to be the ultimate martial arts training and meditation venue. It is set on 2.1 acres of land on the side of a mountain spur, bordering the jungle and maintaining awesome views across the Pai river valley to mountains rising steadily to the Himalayas.

In the early morning, when you begin training, the mountains are usually shrouded in mist which gradually clears as the sun rises. The school is built in the local Shan style architecture according to Chinese Feng Shui principles. Thailand is a great country. It is one of the most popular destinations for international travelers. Thailand is close enough to Singapore that their top masters can travel easily.

The North of Thailand has some of the very best chi in the world. It flows down from the Himalayas. This makes for a perfect place to practice chi kung and seriously boosts health and vitality. This was the primary reason for choosing the location of Nam Yang. The Pai valley is an area of incredible natural beauty. High in the mountains, it epitomizes the Kung Fu dream of training in pure, fresh air with awesome views, away from the distractions of modern life and the pollution of modern cities.

It is easy to grow and prepare healthy natural food in the farmland around Pai which allows you to eat the sort of diet supports on your training. Thailand is a fairly economical country in which to operate. It is not the cheapest in the world but is very cheap compared to western countries. The Pai district is popular with tourists because there are so many things to do. You will have two days off each week and have a fairly long break from training in the middle of the day.

A stay at the mountain retreat can be a holiday as well as a training experience. Nam Yang Mountain Retreat is located in the foothills of the mountains overlooking the Pai river valley in the northern part of Mae Hong Son, Thailand’s remote North-Western province. Mae Hong Son translates as ‘the land of mist’. It is dominated by fairly high, forested mountains and is sparsely inhabited, mainly by Thailand’s famous hill tribes.

Pai is the main tourist center in Mae Hong Son province and ideally suited to receive and entertain foreigners. It has a population of about 3000 who, at peak times, are heavily outnumbered by tourists. Pai acts as a hub for activities and excursions, such as trekking, elephant riding, caving, ox cart riding, rafting, off-road driving or motorcycling, waterfalls, temples, and hill tribes.

The favorite way to get around for most is to rent a small motorcycle for about 80 THB per day. It contains a multitude of bars and restaurants with very reasonable prices. There are many market stalls selling local food and goods, and shops selling any supplies you are really likely to need. As you would expect in Thailand, the town also boasts a number of beautiful Buddhist temples run by monks.


  • Mae Hong Son - 30 minutes
  • Pai to Nam Yang - 15 minutes



  • Gym
  • Swimming


  • Dining area
  • Garden
  • Kitchen


  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Laundry
  • Library


For most of Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat guests, the food is one of the highlights of their stay. Quality food is essential for martial artists in hard training. Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat has their own kitchen garden, herb garden, and fruit trees all of which are entirely organic. Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat is now partially self-sufficient for fruit and vegetables. What they don’t grow by themselves, they will choose carefully usually from the local farmers' market or from people they know well.

The rice is bought from a rather remote hill tribe village in the mountains. By buying rice directly from poor ethnic minorities, they support their families. Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat prepares local style food with an emphasis on the use of beneficial herbs to increase its value. Their diet is calculated to best support your kung fu training as they understand that you are what you eat.

Food prepared on site is as fresh, organic, and healthy as possible and is usually delicious local Thai or Shan style, or occasionally Chinese or southern Thai style. Meals will start with one or two types of fruit and usually some salad. Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat then typically serve two main dishes with rice. Most dishes are vegetarian but Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat does serve meat. There will always be at least one vegan dish as part of each meal. Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat will also try their best to cater for specialist diets.

Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat supply breakfast daily and evening meals on training days. Drinking water is supplied free with meals and is available from the kitchen free of charge at any time for resident students. They also serve specialist teas two to four times a day. Either high-quality Chinese tea, something integrally connected with kung fu training, or herbal tea for health benefits.

The instructors eat in the dining area, together with the students, which is a testimony to the quality of the food and helps provide a good ethos for the school. Meal times are therefore ideal for discussing kung fu and asking questions. Almost any style of food can be purchased in Pai, (Italian, western, middle eastern, Chinese, Indian, and much more).

The local diet is based mainly around rice, meat, fresh-water fish, vegetables, fruit, and spices. Kindly note that seafood is relatively expensive in the mountains. Local fruit and vegetables are great, fresh, and very cheap.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
  • Drinks

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • Gluten Free
  • Organic
  • Fruitarian
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

Things to do (optional)

Pai is a hub for adventure tourism. Most of the students hire a moped so as to get around and appreciate what the area has to offer. Moped hire is very cheap. Safety first is recommended when dealing with mopeds. There is a huge range of activities available locally.


  • Chinese tea growing communities
  • Elephant camps
  • Exploring caves, with or without guides
  • Experience the nightlife in Pai town
  • Off-road motorcycling or driving
  • Rafting, either a serene trip down the Pai River or more adventurous white water rafting
  • Swimming in pools or river
  • Tubing
  • Visit hill tribe villages
  • Visit temples
  • Walking
  • Waterfalls
  • Zip-lining

There is a masseuse available on call who specializes in traditional Thai massage, herb massage, and oil massage. The cost of the massage is 200 TBH per hour. Compared to prices in the West, this is ridiculously cheap!

What's included

  • All training included in itinerary
  • 2 free days to explore the local area
  • Automatic visa on entering Thailand
  • 4nights accommodation
  • Daily breakfast
  • Evening meals on training days
  • Free drinking water and teas made with beneficial herbs
  • Use of all facilities, including gym and training areas when not being used for teaching
  • 7 Qigong sessions, five meditation sessions, seven Kung Fu sessions

What's not included

  • Airfare
  • Additional activities
  • Airport transfers
  • Goods purchases
  • Insurance
  • Lunches
  • Personal expenses
  • Private tuition

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Driving Directions from Pai to the Retreat

Head out of town towards the airport / Mae Hong Son.

On the far side of the airport turn right, parallel to the runway.

We are the first turn on the left, about 400m down the road, on a sharp right hand bend. We have a prominent sign. A little way before our sign is a flashing orange sign signalling sharp bend / left hand turn.

If Arriving to Thailand by Airplane

The best way to get to Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat is to fly to Bangkok or to Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is much nearer to the Kung Fu Retreat but Bangkok has more flights and is usually cheaper. There is an abundance of hotels, guest houses etc in Bangkok to suit all budgets, should you need to arrange an overnight stay.

If you are on a budget to get to Chiang Mai, we suggest flying to Bangkok and taking a train to Chiang Mai or a bus. Please be aware that trains in Thailand often run very late. The trains are very comfortable and afford great views of the Thai countryside. If you are on a very tight budget, you can go to Kao San Road in Bangkok and get an overnight coach for about 300 Baht or so. This is the least comfortable way to travel. We recommend the flight, especially if you have not spent much time in Thailand before.

Once you are in Chiang Mai, you will need to get to Pai.

You have a choice between taking a minibus, taxi or flight.

Minibus: The minibus trip from Chiang Mai is about 150 Baht and has awesome views. It takes about three and a half hours, most of which is spent on amazing winding roads through mountains the like of which you have probably never seen before. The views are breathtaking and the journey is an adventure in itself so we recommend that you travel during daylight. We suggest taking a minibus with the provider Prempracha Transport. To get there from the airport, simply take a taxi with a meter or a Tuk Tuk to Chiang Mai Arcade Bus Station. It should take 15 – 30 minutes depending on traffic and cost very little.

You can book your seat in advanced online and pick up your bus ticket once you arrive to the Bus Station. Once you arrive, if you didn’t book your seat in advanced, you will need to book on to the next available minibus.

Minibuses run between about 6.30 am and 5.30pm. If you arrive in Chiang Mai later than about 3.30pm you are likely to need to either stay overnight in Chiang Mai or get a taxi to the Kung Fu Retreat. If staying overnight, which is the cheapest option, we recommend that you still go to the Prempracha office when you arrive and book on to a minibus for the next day. Then look for a guesthouse. You should be able to get a nice room near the centre of Chiang Mai with fan for 400 – 500 Baht. If in doubt try looking on tripadvisor.

Taxi: We can arrange for a taxi from Pai to come to the airport to meet you. Alternatively you could speak with drivers in the taxi rank outside the airport. Recently taxis have been charging about 4,200 Baht for the trip. This does vary and will likely be higher if late at night or in December / January. If we arrange a taxi for you we will need to pay in advance so please do not pay the driver otherwise he will think that he has just got the best tip of his life and likely take a week off! If you do want to give a tip, 100 – 250 Baht would be about right.

Flight: Wisdom Airlines has recently started providing flights from Chiang Mai to Pai for 1790 Baht per flight for 1 person. Currently, you can book tickets in person, online, through a booking agency or by phone. We suggest doing this in person or through a booking agency though as sometimes the website does not always work. Wisdom Airlines is the only carrier that flies from Chiang Mai to Pai.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 14% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.

Value for money
Accommodation & facilities
Quality of activity
5 days / 4 nights
from --

This vacation is available to start any month of the year, with arrival on Saturday.


Special promotion

You can get a free upgrade to a private room with the following terms and conditions:

  • You have to pay for your booking in full during July (at the shared rate cost).
  • Upgrade is subject to availability. 
  • Dates must be chosen now, and cannot be altered (though extensions at our normal rates if made after July are possible). 
  • Dates can be anytime in the future. This promotion applies to all of our courses, including instructor courses!
  • No refunds for the full booking. (Sorry, this cancellation insurance is not applicable to inquiries or this promotion). 

To book, please send an inquiry to Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat.

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