Sum Chien, also known as San Zhan, Sum Cheen and San Chin is perhaps the most famous martial arts training routine used by many styles of both Kung Fu and Karate.

Like many of the training systems developed in ancient Buddhist cultures, it is intended to reveal greater and greater depth of meaning through consistent practise and study. This is no quick fix – it epitomises the old Kung Fu saying: success follows perseverance. It is real Kung Fu. It forges strong character. It connects mind, body, breath, emotion and spirit. It is both the most basic and the most advanced of the Kung Fu routines. It is an advanced system of Chi Kung / Qigong in its own right and contains the basis of the famous Shaolin Iron Shirt Chi Kung art.

Sum Chien is the classic internal power training routine. It connects the web of fascia which runs throughout the body into one springy, elastic whole from which power can explode out.

Sum Chien teaches the transmission of power through the body from the feet all the way to the hands.

Sum Chien teaches correct body mechanics and joint alignment to transmit force without loss, weakness or ‘wobble’.

Sum Chien teaches the raising and lowering of Chi (internal energy) through conscious control.

Sum Chien trains the packing of Chi into the internal organs to strengthen and invigorate.

Sum Chien concentrates the mind.

Sum Chien trains the conscious manipulation of emotion: the ability to control our emotion at will.

Sum Chien teaches us to speak with our bodies to another person’s subconscious mind.

Sum Chien contains the techniques needed to escape from grips, locks and holds.

Sum Chien contains lethal techniques to be used only in the most serious emergency defence situations.

Sum Chien is the favoured routine of Kung Fu masters and Karate masters alike.


Sum Chien training, Thailand

Sum Chien is a relatively short sequence of movements with a huge depth. Unlike exercise which is purely physical, it gets harder and harder as a greater ability is achieved. Hence in the golden age of Kung Fu beginner students might have been expected to practise Sum Chien 100 times a day but as they progressed the number of repetitions which they were able to do would gradually reduce until advanced students practised as little as three repetitions per day.

At the Kung Fu Retreat, we take Sum Chien practice very seriously. It is part of every training day and we offer detailed instruction right up to the most advanced level.




As featured on :

National Geo
Book Training FAQ

What our students say about us :

National Geo

The retreat is located – not by chance – in an harmonious place that fills you with its peaceful glow and even a sea dependent, who grew up by the coast and can’t spend one week without longing for the sounds and smell of the ocean (only people raised by the seaside know what I mean), feels completely at peace there! This truly is a life sanctuary that will replenish you with a magical vibration attuned to all living things! There aren’t many places with this vibe. I felt this in the Pacific Islands, especially Rapa Nui and Bora Bora, and both the Pacific and Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat were the only two times in my life when I felt like crying when leaving a place…

(Read more) Natália C. – 3 March 2018


While they suggest staying for a week or more my boyfriend and I were only able to stay for 2 days. They welcomed us in even for this short stay and made us feel just as important as students who were there for months. The training was well rounded, and the instructors were knowledgeable, patient, and all spoke fluent English. Training starts at dawn and is almost all day long which made our two days feel like a week on our body. We felt like we were at a true Kung Fu training camp with bamboo structures, great nutritional food, amazing mountain scenery, and incredible instructors. Everything was better than we expected…

(Read more) Kockununa – 9 February 2018


A most satisfied student here....after learning 'Chi Gong' in UK by authentic Chinese masters I practiced this arts teachings for many years, benefiting in all it has to offer to prepare for Kungfu. What I quickly realised in Nam Yang is that I was doing many incorrect postures causing me pain in the long term. Learning 'Chi Kung' from Master Ian and his team was without question what I needed to truly learn this ancient art. All the team individually helped me fine tune key areas of my life physical, mental and spiritul…

(Read more) Serksta – 1 February 2018


I booked initially for 1 week but extended twice, until I had to return to my country. I never thought i would have such an interesting time. The combination between qi kung, kung fu, strong warm ups, meditations, strechings, weapons, sanda... makes the experience so complete for body, mind and spirit, as they say. It’s a healing place, in any sense, physical or mental. The instructors are one of the most remarkable things of the retreat: since they love the kung fu as a way of life, that feeling is transmitted on the trainings. They are serious with their job, and friendly on the treatment, patient and strict at the same time. The way of teaching is based on explaining the reason why of every movement, so everything makes sense. You find easily the motivation for learning and enjoying, and wanting more…

(Read more) Lara A. – 10 November 2017


Master Iain and his instructors cater for all types of students at differing levels and grades of either internal or external kung fu. I am mid forties and fairly fit yet the retreat in Pai made me feel healthier and rejuvenated in such a small space of time without the usual 'thrashing' or 'beasting' you may have faced in other martial arts / boxing .. why? It was down too the good balance of hard / soft training that was conducted in a mature and intelligent manner - all of which is built on respect for each and every person at the retreat...

(Read more) Chris – 15 February 2018

Book Training