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Morning Gongfu at Yunnan Normal University

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Chinese Gongfu Association of Yunnan Normal University invites nonmembers to study gong fu. Chairman Cheng Jian Guo leads daily classes drawing from Shaolin and Wudan Gongfu (aka Kung Fu).

GoKunming met with Cheng while he led thirteen students through calisthenics in the predawn chill of his classroom, a section of synthetic rubber next to Yunnan Normal University's track.

Backlit by the rising sun, Cheng traced a tao lu, or form, whose leaps and poses teach the foundation of Shaolin Gongfu. He walked through the ranks of his students while they mimicked the sequence.

For some there were corrections: a posture stiffened, a foot nudged outward. Cheng repeated the movements at half-speed before the beginners.

"Everybody can learn, you must only be interested," he said after the fifty-minute session.

Foreigners seem to shy from the early hours and Mandarin instruction. The attendance record for a foreign student is held by an Israeli who lasted a month.

Cheng, a third-year biology student, is quick to highlight the benefits of gong fu.

"This art is not only useful for the body; with careful study it creates a younger and stronger spirit," he said.

Classes run weekdays, 6:40 to 7:30 AM, and weekends, 6:00 to 8:00 PM. The cost of attending beyond a free trial class is a six-month membership for an affordable 60 yuan.

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