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Wushu Whiteboy Studying Shaolin, Sanda, and Mantis Kung Fu in China

Kung Fu in China Weeks Fourteen to Seventeen

CHINA | Saturday, 14 December 2013 | Views [809] | Comments [8]

We're doing more training inside the training hall now that the weather is getting colder. The heat is turned on now, so it's more bearable, but it's still generally a little chilly in the rooms.

Fridays we normally go up and down the stairs between Wudang Temple and Yanxia Cave. As the ground is now covered in ice and snow they deemed this unsafe, so today they had us run to the parking lot at the base of Kunyu Mountain. I walked for about 10 meters near the end, but otherwise nonstop running along the icy road took me about 40 minutes to reach the base. Going back was slower as it was downhill and I had to be particularly careful of the ice, although I still ran most of the way as it was far too cold to do otherwise. There's nothing to keep you running like cold weather. At the base of the mountain, a couple of us took advantage of the scenery to practice forms.

There are two students here who have reputations of being particularly good at Sanda, Amed from Egypt and Felix from Germany. Last week I asked Felix to spar. We both know that he's way out of my league but Felix is very good at toning it down to match the skill level of his opponent, and it would be a good training opportunity. I told Master Qu that I was sparring with Felix that Friday and he didn't think it was a good idea, so of course I did it anyways. To quote my master in the SCA, "Korric has always had more balls than brains." Felix got me with a really hard kick to the head. It wasn't a knockout, but it did make my knees buckle and the Sifu stopped the match. I watched a video of it afterwards and saw that I had dropped my left hand (I stand southpaw,) leaving my left side open for the kick. I'm sure I'll be much more attentive to my left guard in the future as I really don't want to be hit like that again. It isn't fun.

This week I sparred again, this time against Ian from Wales. He was scheduled to spar against me and then against Felix, despite our master trying to talk Ian out of sparring against Felix. Ian is quite good and normally performs much better than I do when sparring, but I definitely got the better of him in the ring today. This was the first time that we had sparred against each other and I think part of it may be that he was unaccustomed to sparring against someone who spars from a left-handed stance. Ian was scheduled to spar against Felix afterwards but the masters didn't want him to continue, so instead I sparred against Felix. Again, Master Qu advised against it, but I told him it will be good training to spar Felix again (again, more balls than brains). I tried to pay attention to my left guard this time but I dropped it again and Felix got me with the same kick to the left side of my head again. It wasn't as hard this time and the match continued, but it certainly wasn't a gentle caress either. I did much better against Felix this time although he did of course do better than I did.

At lunch, each table is set with a plate of sliced seasonal fruit; currently the fruits are apples. There are students who steal pieces of fruit from others' tables on the way to lining up for lunch. As the food here is not high quality and not very varied, fruit is valued and it is considered extremely rude to grab fruit slices from other tables. Recently, the Sifus spoke to their respective groups about why the students should not be doing this, so some students must have complained about this and rightfully so. A few days before this announcement, however, my table handled it in a different way. After consulting with the others at the table I normally sit at, the following day I poured a very strong wasabi oil on the apples at our table before I went to the lunch line. Sure enough, a passing student ate an apple slice from our table. It was amusing, and I suspect that he will not be doing that at our table again. I also caught a fellow student from Mantis group stealing an apple slice; in his case I chastised him as was appropriate with him being in my group.

I also did my first grading today. Once a month we have grading, in which any student who wishes may perform a form in front of all of the masters and students, and the masters judge the performance. It's optional, and most of the students here don't grade, but it's good practice and gives an idea of where one is at. I performed Luen Jia form. I got an 8.49 out of 10, which is much better than I expected as I had just completed the form last week.

I'm starting to understand the value of forms in Kung Fu. I've always found them beautiful, which is part of why I chose Kung Fu over other martial arts, but there are moves within forms that look nice but appear nonviable to me. In applications class a couple of weeks ago, a senior student was teaching me a certain application which struck me as practical and easy to perform. He then pointed out that this was a sequence of movements found in Luen Jia. This explains why it was easy to do; I had been doing this application for several weeks in the form without realizing it. Master Qu recently taught me another application that I quite liked, and it turned out to be a move sequence within Luen Jia that I had been previously convinced would never be viable in reality and had no purpose but for performance. I'm no longer so convinced. It's one thing when someone shows me how a particular movement in the form is applied while I'm learning it, and it doesn't always seem intuitive or practical to me. But when the application is taught as an application in isolation, it's very intuitive if my body is already in the habit of performing the movements because it's been practicing a form for several weeks. There are some minor differences and transitional movements in the forms for performances in some cases. For example, an arm may be positioned slightly differently in the form for appearance than it would be in actual application, or the hand may be in a more pronounced "Mantis hands" position than it would be in application, but these are minor differences that are easily adjusted between application and performance. It's interesting and gave me a new respect for forms as a very useful training tool. They're also still beautiful.

I really should have kept my hoodie on for this.

I really should have kept my hoodie on for this.

Tags: china, martial arts



"Korric has always had more balls than brains." cracked me up considering you are lucky that you still do. :-P

  Brandy Dec 14, 2013 3:38 PM


Love reading these updates...sorry I have been bad about commenting, but I am glad you are enjoying this experience so much.


  Jason Griffin Dec 15, 2013 4:46 AM


Glad the training is still going well, and particularly that you're continuing to progress in Sanda. That's cool that you're beginning to see more of the practical application of the forms as well.

  Chris Farnsworth Dec 15, 2013 8:38 AM


What an amazing adventure you're having!

  Chana Dec 16, 2013 6:24 PM


Sounds like you had your very own, "wax on; wax off", experience... Nice to read up on your progress. I can really hear your voice when I read your blog.... keep them coming!!

  Christina Reich Dec 18, 2013 12:52 PM


These posts are really informative and interesting, i really enjoyed reading them - keep them coming :))

  Katya Dec 18, 2013 11:54 PM


Glad to hear about your progress, and rather jealous!

Train well, and let's get together when you get back.


  Ramsey Jan 4, 2014 4:59 AM


Great post, we go china friday :)

best regards,


  ivan_zgz May 14, 2014 10:39 PM

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