Miaoli County (苗栗縣) in central Taiwan, nicknamed “Mountain town,” is famous for its plethora of mountains that surround it. Up and down these mountains, you will find a group of disciplined students running in unison at the crack of every dawn while the whole island of Taiwan is still in a deep slumber.

Their red and black uniforms reveal a prideful identity, as they are all part of a government-funded school of wushu, which in Chinese translates to “martial arts,” but in common parlance refers to a specific kind of martial arts style.

Learning Martial Arts at Miaoli, Taiwan

Martial Arts Wushu Miaoli Taiwan

Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻), Miaoli County’s previous magistrate, helped officially establish the Miaoli Fu-shing Wushu Elementary and Middle School (苗栗福興武術國民中小學) on August 1, 2010, a martial arts boarding school for grades 1-9. (The education system in Taiwan is different, where middle schools include grades 7 through 9 and high schools include grades 10 through 12.)

In order for this up and coming school, the first and only of its kind in Taiwan, to succeed, the government budgeted a billion New Taiwan dollars ($31,195,420 USD) to set up general operations for a well-rounded academic program, to build new dormitories for student housing, and to recruit the best-experienced faculty. Their wushu faculty consists of top experts in the field, including four national representatives from Taiwan as well as two professional coaches from China.

Moreover, in order to promote wushu education and develop international recognition, these faculty members have attended several conferences with other major wushu schools from the Henan province of China, such as the world-renowned Songshan Shaolin Temple Wushu School, where only those who are officially part of the Shaolin monkhood are allowed to train, not to be confused with Songshan Shaolin Traditional Wushu Academy, where anyone with some money could join.

Martial Arts in Miaoli Fu-shing Wushu Elementary and Middle School

Martial Arts Wushu Miaoli Taiwan

When Fu-shing first publicized the recruitment of students, there were many concerns raised from parents:

  • How practical is a “wushu education” in comparison to a traditional school system?
  • What would be its benefits?
  • Would the students be able to compete with others in getting a well-paid job or in pursuing higher education?

In response to their concerns, the principal, Wen Ji-hung, gathered teaching professionals to design and develop a strategic academic program that offers a balance between the traditional education system with a remarkable wushu education and more general martial arts training, which includes:

Martial Arts Wushu Miaoli Taiwan

Forty percent of each school year is comprised of studies in traditional academic subjects, such as math, science, and literature, while the remaining sixty percent is dedicated to wushu.

In order to build a strong sense of camaraderie, all students are required to live at school in the dorms. Their days begin with the first training session from 5:00 to 7:00 a.m., when students are required to run uphill for five kilometers (3.1 miles) in the lush surrounding mountains of Miaoli. The second training session starts at 2:00 p.m. and lasts for three and a half hours; this session focuses on specialized training, which vary from student to student depending on what kind of wushu the individual specializes in.

Furthermore, to emphasis the importance of an ascetic, healthy routine, students are only allowed to use electronic devices from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Miaoli Fu-shing Wushu School Main Goals

Martial Arts Wushu Miaoli Taiwan

Fu-shing serves as a hybridized public boarding school and attracts many students from all over Taiwan. Through a highly selective process of examining wushu talent, an estimated total of one hundred and fifty students are currently enrolled. Outstanding students are encouraged to apply for honors and scholarships, which can cover as much as free housing and a complete meal plan.

One of Fu-shing’s main goals is to produce national representatives of Taiwan and internationally recognized Olympians. Many news outlets have also interviewed students, who reveal that they’ve discovered far more than merely placing at various competitions and tournaments.

CTS News Magazine of Taiwan interviews a thirteen-year-old boy from Pingtung County who expresses why he chose to attend Fu-shing when his parents presented him with the opportunity to do so in this video clip: “Because I want to learn to be independent,” is what his words best translate to, which many of us sadly still struggle with as twenty- or even thirty-somethings.

In the same clip, a group of students also stated that wushu practice has personally helped them improve both their academic performance and general health; they concentrate better while studying and their immune systems have strengthened to the point that they rarely get sick anymore. More importantly for them, wushu helps cultivate friendships and a positive attitude both in contest and life in general.

It Emphasizes on Humanity and Wushu

Martial Arts Wushu Miaoli Taiwan

Even Fu-shing’s school badge is emblematic for its emphasis on humanity and wushu. The badge, proudly worn on all their uniforms, is a bright red circle, inside which is a white cursive script of the Chinese character shing (興), which means, “to rise” or “thrive.” Its calligraphy is flexible yet steady.

From afar, the character looks like a mighty mountain, while a closer look reveals an image that resembles a monk meditating in the lotus position, which also brings to mind a blooming lotus flower. Together, these elements convey the two truest values of a wushu practitioner: strength and mercy.

Miaoli Fu-shing Wushu Elementary and Middle School has more than just the reputation of being the one and only of its kind in Taiwan; it’s a unique learning environment for youth to discover and develop their individual potential through a combination of traditional academic and wushu values.

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