Corey Hopp was a typical teenager growing up in Friendship in south county. He went to Southern Middle School and then went on to graduate from the Calverton School.
During high school he started to get a taste for martial arts, but life took a few turns before he ended up training full time at a Chinese Kung Fu academy—in China. He signed on for a five-year program, so the 27-year-old will continue to live in China, coming home only for a brief break each winter through 2014.
He’s at home now until Feb. 19. One of the reasons he comes home is to work and try to scrape up enough cash to pay his tuition bill.
One of the ways he is working is teaching what he has learned. To that end, he is offering Qigong seminars at Balanced Life Skills, a martial arts studio in Annapolis.
He’ll offer seminars at 5 p.m. and one at 7 p.m. starting Monday. Then, he’ll offer a Tuesday class at 11 a.m. The cost is $10 a week. Students are encouraged to attend more than one session a week. The Qigong seminars will run until Feb. 14.
Qigong is a Chinese practice aligning breath, movement and awareness for exercise, healing and meditation. Hopp gets instruction in Qigong and kung fu at his training in China, but he has also practiced other forms of martial arts.
Going to China
“In high school, I had an interest in martial arts, but it wasn’t fully developed,” Hopp said.
After graduating from Calverton, Hopp headed to Tufts in Boston to study architecture. While he was in Boston, he got more interested in martial arts.
“It was like I was majoring in architecture with a minor in martial arts training,” he said.
He got training in tae kwon do, a Korean form of martial arts, from a student-run club at Tufts. He also got interested in Aikido, a Japanese form of martial arts, from a dojo—or martial arts gym—in Cambridge.
After graduating, Hopp wasn’t ready to get an architecture job. He was interested in China, and decided to pursue a chance to work and travel there. After online search, he found a job teaching English at a university near Nanjing.
During his first year, he found a group of older Chinese men and women practicing tai chi in a nearby park. He joined them. It was a new method of practice, but also gave him the opportunity to practice and improve his Chinese.
“It was a really cool experience. I felt like it was a model that would be good to replicate with retired people. They were there every day. It was a wonderful opportunity to chat, stretch and hang out,” Hopp said.
During spring festival, Hopp traveled to another area where he found the Wudong Daoist Traditional Internist Kung Fu Academy.
“I was only able to stay a few days,” Hopp said. “But I knew I wanted to find a way to stay longer.”
He headed back to teaching at the university, but had his heart set on returning to study martial arts and the Tao/Dao philosophy.
“They only accept a few students each year,” Hopp said.
He was accepted in 2009. And he’s been following his passion ever since.
Check out Hopp’s upcoming seminars. The classes are appropriate for all age levels and he is eager to impart the things he has learned on others.