About Kung Fu and Chinese Martial Arts

Chinese martial arts, or kung fu, has a long history stretching over thousands of years. Over this time, these fighting skills have become more sophisticated, refined and effective, profoundly influenced by Buddhist and Taoist concepts. A wide variety of skills and approaches have been developed. Currently, there exist hundreds of styles of kung fu which embody these skills and philosophies in different ways and in different measure. At Steel Dragon, we teach 3 different styles of kung fu: Ying Jow Kuen (Eagle Claw), Baiyaun Tongbei Quan (White Ape Connected Back), and Xing-Yi Quan (Mind-Movement Style).



Training consists of a number of different elements:

• Conditioning for strength and flexibility

• Martial Arts

• Tumbling

• Drumming

• and of course, the actual Lion Dancing

Check the schedule for times and locations.

Class Philosophy and Approach

Although training is rigorous, each person needs to start where they are and progress from there. People are asked to wear comfortable, loose clothing to class and to remove jewelry to avoid injury. Generally, the first hour is conditioning and the second is one or more of the other four training elements.

A person’s fundamentals in each of the five training areas is developed to be very strong. Each person is likely to have different strengths and weaknesses. Belts and sashes are not given at Gong Lung. Not only are they not traditional for the Chinese martial arts, but they tend to distract from the goal of developing high quality kung fu skills by setting superficial goals. The real indication of how good somebody is... is how good they are, not just in how many moves they know, but how well they use and execute them. Steady improvement in each of the five elements is the goal of training. Each person is dealt with individually based on his or her qualities.

Training is oriented more towards practical application (ie. self defense) than tournament competition in kung fu, and more towards traditional lion dance performance (house blessings, marriage, business blessings, event openings, etc) than competition. That said, if a student wishes to compete in martial arts tournaments, he or she can be assisted in this regard. Additionally, the team may enter competition lion dance down the road.

Fighting is part of the kung fu training for those individuals who have reached the appropriate skill level (including control). Fighting is only allowed under supervision. However, if you do not want to fight you are not required to do so.

Engaging in this training consistently can result in better physical fitness (including increased strength, agility, flexibility and endurance) as well as a greater ability to defend oneself. Additionally, the training develops both team work as well as individual self-discipline.

Classes for adults are typically 2 hours long. This provides sufficient time to both work on kung fu related conditioning and actual skill set development. Failure to devote adequate time to development physically and mentally will result in subpar kung fu skills which will mostly likely not be useful in the real world.

In addition to class, Gong Lung will on occasion host different martial art seminars or arrange for a trip to observe or compete in a lion dance competition and other events.


Conditioning involves strengthening the body , making it more flexible and improving endurance. Without a doubt, a well conditioned body is an advantage in any martial art, including Chinese martial arts. The conditioning regimen for both kung fu styles develops flexibility in the joints, ligaments and muscles. Strength is developed in the legs, core and arms, as well as throughout the body as a whole. Internal energy is also developed. Basic chi gong is also part of the conditioning.

Little if any equipment is required for the conditioning. Weights are not part of this regimen. Mostly, one works with one's own body.

Exercises vary from class to class, and between kung fu styles. Each individual starts at a level appropriate for him or her, and the degree of difficulty is increased as they improve.

Kung Fu

What is included in the kung fu training will depend upon the style being trained. To learn more about the individual styles and the training, please click the "Kung fu" button. The material each student is taught at a given time depends upon the his or her skills at the time. Fundamentals are stressed in the training for the simple reason that it is more useful to be able to use basic skills very well than fancy skills very poorly. As the student's foundation gets stronger, more advanced skills are introduced.

Steel Dragon emphasizes more the practical use of kung fu rather than the competition aspect of it. However, if a student wishes to compete in competition, s/he can be accommodated. When forms are taught, for example, applications from the forms are brought out as well.

Competition fighting is not taught, but if a student requests they can be assisted in this area as well. However, it is worth keeping in mind that competition fighting is usually not the same as what one should do in a real fight.


Tumbling is part of both Ying Jow Kuen and lion dance. Tumbling skills can be very useful in a fight, and they also come into play with in doing the lion and dai to fut (big headed Buddha) characters of the lion dance. These skills can include roll, flips, cartwheels, aerials, handstands and so forth.Tumbling is not taught separately but rather in the context of martial application.

Special Classes

We sometimes offer special classes. For instance, through the Penn Avenue Arts Initiative, we offered a 2-month introduction to kung fu for middle school students in their service area. We offered a similar class through Shady Side Academy. We also teach a class through Reserve Elementary School.

Classes can be arranged for private groups as well.

Private lessons are also available. Contact us for more information.

Contact us to find out more. Call us at 412.362.6096 or email us at info@steel-dragon.org.

Kung Fu Training at Steel Dragon

A question that has been asked is "how long will it take before I can fight?" The answer is, it depends. Who are you going to fight? What is your skill level now? What kind of condition are you in now? How often and how hard will you practise? And even more questions than those. Many variables go into this kind of question.

There are two old sayings that are applicable to this issue as well. "There is always a bigger mountain" means that there will always be somebody better than you. Also, "The only way to guarantee that you will not lose a war is to not get in a war". This means there is always a chance you can lose, even to somebody who is weaker and less skilled, just by luck. Keep this in mind before getting into a fight. Most of the time, it's not worth the bother to get into a serious fight.

Chinese martial arts is useful for more than just fighting; it also develops health, fitness and mental discipline of the martial artist. Regular practise can result in reduced stress and a feeling of well being.

Training at Steel Dragon, regardless of style, emphasizes fundamentals. Without a strong foundation, one will not be able to defend oneself effectively regardless of the number of techniques and skills one supposedly knows. Effective kung fu is predicated upon a solid fundamentals.

Finally, a traditional set of ethics (Mouh Dak) also underlies training. It is inappropriate to use one's skill in fighting to pick on the weak and defenseless, for example. As one grows and develops as a martial artist, an understanding and adoption of such ethical standards is expected.

One last note: It may be noticed that Cantonese terminology is used when discussing Ying Jow and Lion Dance, but Mandarin terminology is used when discussing Tongbei. This is because the instructor's family speaks Cantonese as did those from whom he learned Ying Jow and Lion Dance, but Zhang Yun, from whom he learned Tai Chi, Tongbei and Xing-Yi, speaks Manadrin, being that he's from Beijing.