Learn the fighting style of Mr. Miyaki and “The Karate Kid” right here in Beijing


If you’ve been gorged on the last season of Cobra Kai and want to try the real thing, you can do it right here in Beijing. Hidden away in an underground gymnasium in Fuxingmen, there is a place called Shinzenkan (真 然 馆) where you can learn the art of Okinawan karate.

For many people, longing is a big part of Cobra Kai to appeal. The show teleports them to the Miyagi-Verse, a world and group of characters they first encountered when they watched the 1984 version of The Karate Kid. Even for those who have never seen any of the films, they will have heard of Daniel Larusso’s teacher, Mr. Miyagi. For die-hard fans, any reference to the film conjures up images of a lost teenager finding a male model, an American boy waxing cars, and deep introductions to the wisdom of karate.

Fortunately, you don’t have to fly to Okinawa to find your own Mr. Miyagi, he’s waiting at a dojo near you. At the front of the Shinzenkan dojo is a pair of small clay pots called nigiri game used for training the grip force, a weighted lever called chi ishi which will strengthen your arms, and of course a vertical wooden plank called a makiwara used to train your explosive punching power and harden your knuckles. Any serious Okinawan karate dojo will have these tools available for additional training, or hojo cancel.

Of course, this is all extra, the heart of any dojo is the sensei. When I went for my free lesson I was struck by the gentleness and kindness Hong sensei look at. But from the moment the class started and Hong Sensei started showing how to generate more power in your punch, something changed and I could see that those punches were anything but soft. When he taught me to apply some of the moves I had been doing for years, I knew he was the real deal.

It’s no surprise that Hong Sensei is a member of the IOGKF (Okinawa Goju-ryu International Karate-do Federation), the only member on the Chinese mainland to do so. The IOGKF is to karate what the Wu-Tang Clan is to hip hop.

It was founded by Morio Higaonna in 1979, and since then Higaonna Sensei has been using it to spread and preserve traditional karate around the world, even here in our own backyard. Higaonna Sensei is by far the most respected living Okinawan karate practitioner (he was designated Okinawa’s Intangible Cultural Treasure in 2013) and he will be watching you while you pass your black belt test, even if it is via Zoom, right here in Beijing. .

But Sensei Hong can teach you more than just how to win the All-Valley Karate Championships, however. He will teach you how to defend yourself in a dark hutong alley after a night out in Gulou, how to turn your body to steel without touching any weight, and how to get hit with a force that others will be amazed by.

During most lessons, students practice bunkai, application drills that teach you how to block real punches and deal a few yourself. in China’s Fujian Province, in styles like the Fujian Whooping Crane.

Ultimately what’s probably even more important than finding your own Mr. Miyagi (in your chosen art) is finding your own passion and living it. If it is karate, you can contact the people of Shinzenkan at www.shinzenkan.cn or zhenranguan (WeChat).

Shinzenkan 真 然 馆
A-B2 Tianyin Manor, 2 Fuxingmennan Dajie, Xicheng District
西 子区 复兴门 南 大街 2 号 天 银 大厦 A 座 B2

13699165320, zhenranguan (WeChat)
Tue / Fri / Sun, 4:30 p.m.-9 p.m. (call to confirm)

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Images courtesy of Shinzenkan

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