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Kung Fu Panda

Last year, a friend of ours and an award winning journalist, Pakinam Amer, dropped everything and flew over to China to a Shaolin Temple to learn Kung Fu.

Can you imagine the moment she thought: Fuck it, I’m actually going to do this, I am going to leave my comfy westernised materialistic lifestyle to head to “a gloomy, dark village in mainland China; dirty and, by the looks of it, still stranded in the Middle Age, completely alone, to learn an exalted form of Kung Fu when I can’t even kick above the waist”? And she followed through, and it’s all pretty damn inspiring.

I wondered if I were to do something similar, what would happen? I would probably arrive at the camp, tweet a few pictures then realise there’s nowhere to charge my Blackberry, get hungry, find my way to Beijing and check into a 5 star hotel. I would blow my whole Kung Fu tuition fees on copious amount of exotic, hallucinatory drugs until the point I think I am Bruce Lee. I’ll end up karate-chopping the bell boy, getting kicked out, never going home out of sheer embarrassment for not following my Kung Fu dreams, and spending the rest of my life working as a male gigolo in the Shen Zhen province. I think I’d do quite well in China.

Thanks to the same Kung-Fu camp in which Pakinam still resides, however, I won’t have to sell my body out of shame. The chance of reaching enlightenment and learning some kick-ass Kung Fu tricks at the Shaolin Dragon Camp is coming to Egypt! From 8th to 15th February 2013, the famous martial arts school will be hosting a one week workshop (not for the light of heart) in the beautiful, secluded and serene setting of the Western Desert in the Qasr El Bawity camp (at the Bahariya Oasis).

On hearing this, I immediately signed up and I suggest you do too. When I was a kid I did Judo for about 4 years. Our Judo teacher Mr.Lee said I performed the best Epon Syniagy (where you flip the opponent over your shoulder) he’d ever seen of someone my age, then one day I tried to flip the fat 90KG Indian kid called Ghonam and I couldn’t. I cried and never practiced Judo again. I would have probably been, like, a blue belt by now. At least I would have, if I ever actually bought a Judo suit. Either way, I’m about to redeem myself.
The look I'll be sporting come February
Do not think of this as a pretentious or frivolous Eat, Pray, Love moment but, instead, a chance for you to challenge yourself; a chance for you to get away from the all-encompassing conditioning of our modern society and, if you’re lucky, transmutate into radiance. Having said that, more likely than not, it’ll take me about two days to find the nearest Bedouin bar, get wasted, miss the next day’s 5:30 AM wake up call  and puke all over one of the esteemed Shifus (Kung Fu Masters).
German Kung Fu instructor Felix Fechner. I want to learn that move first.
Shaolin Dragon Camp are flying over Shifu Shen Jiajia, a Chinese Kung Fu and Taj Ji teacher from the Shaolin Temple, and Shaolin-trained Felix Fechner, a German Kung Fu and Qi Gong instructor to train you during this one-of-a-kind course. It’s intense, though – 7 hours of training for 8 days in the desert will really test your physical and mental stamina as you learn moves from traditional Shaolin Kung Fu, Chinese Kickboxing, basic sparring and self-defense, Tai Ji and Oi Gona, as well as breathing and self-massage exercises
White Desert

Yes, I’m sweating at the mere thought of it. But there will be some downtime as the trip includes a tour of the White and Black Deserts, some stargazing, some soul-searching and some Bedouin tunes. I’ll be reporting back throughout my experience, but if you want to see me not-so-metaphorically throw that 90KG monkey off my back, find Bedouin moonshine with me, get your hands on some really cool bright orange pyjamas, or you just really like the film Kung Fu Panda, registrations are now open for the camp.

It costs 5,500LE per person and the price includes intensive martial arts and energy training, accommodation in Qasr El Bawity in a double room, meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner), transportation to and from Cairo, training uniforms and any Kung Fu equipment and camping equipment you’ll need.

Room at Qasr El Bawity

For more information about Shaolin Dragon Camp and the camp’s schedule keep up-to-date with theirFacebook and Twitter, or to get a more personal taste of what to expect, check out Pakinam Amer’s Shaolin Diaries on her blog.

There are only 30 spaces on the course, and they’re going fast! You can book directly throughTazkarty.net or call 02 37496162 to secure your place.


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