"How much to train?"

Well, the last I had heard, the cost in US dollars (which they like to get; official rate around 8.12 yuan per dollar, 8.4 yuan per dollar on the street, but be careful what you get), used to be around $80 a day, which included something that resembled a room, three meals a day (that somehow resemble food, or, more specifically, whatever didn't run across the road fast enough that day), and training (after which, you might somehow resemble  the likeness of a human being). Don't expect running water. Daily prayers to the gods of the hot water heater might yield you a semi-hot but drizzling shower at 8PM, but, remember, those gods are terribly fickle). You won't be disappointed with the living arrangements at the wushu guan, if you're not used to staying at real hotels in the US. And once you see the alternatives in Shaolin, you'll be glad you're at the wushu guan.

I've gotten the deal for less, around $50 a day, and sometimes, $25 a day, but then again, they knew me. (At this time, I make my own arrangements with the monks, and spend quite a deal less daily, but this is not something that is easy to accomplish). I have met many foreigners who avoid the wushu guan entirely, and "secretly" reside in "hotels" (or, those concrete rooms with a bare solitary light bulb that resemble hotels) for about two to three bucks a day. Training and food would then be extra. As for cost of the food, figure about three bucks a day. (Mystery meat is expensive, you know).  As for training with the monks "on the side", that is an individually arranged type of deal.  As for it being "secret", well, according to the authorities, foreigners must stay at the wushu guan. They consider it for security reasons, I look at it as purely economic. Many have stayed outside the wushu guan, some have had problems with the police, most have not.

If this is going to be your first time going, I would suggest the wushu guan, as the accommodations would be most similar to what you would be accustomed to (and I take a lot of "poetic license" with that statement). Get to know some of the monks, get to visit some of the other schools in the valley, and make arrangements for your return then. As for who to contact, I prefer to visit with them first to investigate the situation. I've heard that there have been many changes at the wushu guan, and I prefer to save my "strong recommendations" after I find out what exactly is going on there now. 

And if you do go to the wushu guan, avoid the third floor of the "hotel". The karaoke bar is right down the hall, and it is usually inhabited by the usual solitary karaoke lover, who tries to do his Sinatra imitation every night. The songs are almost always of the "boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, girl falls in love with boy, girl leaves boy, boy has broken heart, boy goes to karaoke bar to sing the blues" format, but since they're in Chinese, you won't understand them anyway. Just remember that the third floor has the noise, and the least water pressure. But, since water is not common anyway, it may not be much of an issue. And for those of you who have asked me "who those women in the karaoke bar are", yes, some of them, at times, have been what you think they were, and yes, I wouldn't recommend buying their wares, as I've heard from reliable sources that such activity is unlawful, but sometimes overlooked, in China. Especially since I've also heard that the police are not only the legal authority there, but also the "managing" authority. Remember, caveat emptor. (Let the buyer beware. I think....) See the Dengfeng Journals for more on this.

I hope at some time in the future, after a little more research, to put some information on some of the other schools in the Shaolin valley on this site, as I've been almost inundated with email requests for this. Give me some time, I'll get it done. You can find some information at the Shaolin Schools section of the site, and also in the appropriate section of the discussion forum.