‘People are much like tyres,’ says Tufnell Park’s ageless Shaolin Kung Fu teacher

Martial arts expert warns neighbours about strange noises as he hits his torso with metal pole

Friday, 26th July 2019 — By Emily Finch

Akin Akinsiku

Akin Akinsiku; ‘Human beings aren’t meant to be sedentary’

THE sweltering heat that took over the capital this week could not stop members of the Shaolin temple from high-kicking and wrestling.

Thousands have gone through the Shaolin Kung Fu training process behind the red gates in Junction Road since the centre opened just under 20 years ago. Its students have performed stunts in the latest James Bond film, which is currently in production.

Akin Akinsiku, also known as Shi Heng Jiu, is a teacher at the school, which is directly linked with the Shaolin monastery in China. The ancient Chinese martial art, mostly practiced by Buddhist monks, dates back to the 5th century and the branch in Tufnell Park was opened by grandmaster Shifu Shi Yan Zi who is revered in China.

“The temple can completely change the trajectory of your life. It can ­create you a new path,” said Mr Akinsiku.

Mr Akinsiku teaches the preparation classes – you have to attend these for three months to a year before you can move on to foundation level – and the advanced classes.

“We train not just the outside but the inside through meditation too. People are like tyres. You must have pressure inside and be hard externally to be effective.

But if you take away the pressure inside the entire tyre becomes useless. You can’t just look after the outside,” he said.

The classes also “reverse” the problems some people might have from sitting at their desks all day in office jobs.


Shi Heng Jiu practising at the centre in Junction Road 

“Human beings aren’t meant to be sedentary. We always used to be moving in the past, whether that was farming or gathering food. We need to be active,” he said.

Mr Akinsiku said he had to warn his neighbours about any strange noises they might hear from his house because he often hits his torso with a metal pole as part of condition training to prepare for blows during fights. He would not allow us to print his age but he said people were often “surprised” when they found out how old he was but his training at the temple “keeps me young”.

For those hoping to join in his classes he warned that he pushes people “beyond their normal limit”. However, he added: “Our classes will break you out of mould so you’re not running around in circles like a hamster on a wheel.”

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