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

Kung Fu in China Weeks Twenty-One and Twenty-Two

CHINA | Sunday, 19 January 2014 | Views [717] | Comments [3]

Another Mantis student, Ian, and I were practicing an application, and it wasn't quite right. We were doing something wrong but weren't sure what it was. He mentioned that there should be a manual. This application was part of a form that we were both familiar with, so I performed that part of the form and, in doing so, realized my mistake. In the form I step twice during this movement, whereas in the application I was only stepping once. I then performed the application while stepping twice and it went exactly as it should. The form is the manual. My respect for forms increased again.

Last weekend was a fellow student's birthday, so a group of us took a cab to Yantai for dinner. We went to Jackie's, which is a Western style restaurant. I had a pizza, which was more or less an American style pizza but not quite as yummy, but it was a nice change of pace from Chinese food. Afterwards we went to Druid's, an Irish pub, so that we could continue our immersive experience with Chinese culture. After this, four of us then went to a bathhouse.  When we arrived at the bathhouse, the first thing we encountered was an attendant telling us that we were not welcome there because we didn't have Chinese identification and no, passports will not do. One of the students among us spoke Mandarin, so there was arguing back and forth for some time, culminating in the attendant speaking with whom I presumed to be his boss and then allowing us in. It was a public bathhouse in which you relax naked in a warm communal pool (female pool on one side of the building, male on the other,) after which there is a sleeping area where one can spend the night. The sleeping area was basically stadium seating with the seats being reclining sofas that were comfortable enough to sleep in. The bathhouse has showers to use afterwards and provided toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, soap, shampoo, and even pajamas to sleep in. There was some minor comedy in attempting to communicate naked with the Chinese attendants to find out where to get towels and pajamas. Naked pantomime at it's best.

The next morning, the one Chinese-speaking student of us wanted to stay at the bathhouse to get a massage, so she gave the other three of us instructions on how to catch the bus from Yantai to Mouping. We could then take a bus from Mouping to Kunyu Shan. We had to get on bus 17 to Jesco shopping mall and then take bus 61 from Jesco to Mouping. So three Kunyu students, Carlos, Abishek, and I, were off to catch the bus. Easy enough. We got on bus 17, but we weren't sure how far down Jesco was nor whether or not we would successfully identify it when we saw it. Carlos spoke with some university students on the bus who spoke English, and they told us where to get off to get to Jesco. We walked all over the place in the cold trying to find Jesco. At this point I'm going to interrupt the story.

I grew up on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, which is a peninsula which has a canal separating it from the mainland. Cape Cod is a very popular tourist destination during the summer months, and tourists often have to ask for directions to the tunnel through which they can drive underneath the canal to get back to the mainland. Now, driving around Cape Cod you can see that many vehicles have tunnel permits affixed to the bumper so that residents can freely use the canal tunnel. People on Cape Cod are often very helpful in giving directions to the canal tunnel, only there is no tunnel. It's a grand joke. Tunnel permits are novelties that can be purchased in most convenience stores on Cape Cod. If someone gives tunnel directions they're probably directions towards the ocean.

After way too much walking and never finding Jesco, I began to wonder if the students on the bus had given us directions to the canal tunnel.

Although we never found Jesco, we did eventually find a bus stop for bus 61. We got on the bus and prepared to be transported to Mouping. Once in Mouping, I could get us on a bus back to Kunyu Shan, so we were finally on our way. After riding the bus for a bit, smoke began pouring out from the rear right wheel-well. The bus driver pulled over and inspected the wheel-well and poured water around it. As this didn't solve the problem he then called someone on his mobile phone, and moments later the bus was evacuated. We were back to standing in the cold and wondering how we were going to get back to Kunyu Shan. Eventually, another bus 61 drove up, but it was full. The Chinese, however, would not let such a silly thing deter them. The bus stopped and opened its doors, and some of the passengers from the broken down bus got on the newly arrived bus, although the majority of them were smart enough to wait for another bus. Not us. We were packed in very tightly, and an attendant was literally shoving Carlos from outside of the bus to pack him in so that they could close the doors. This bus did successfully get us to Mouping, where we then got a bus to Kunyu Shan.

Friday of week twenty-two I sparred again, this time with Ismael from the Netherlands. Ismael is a very technical fighter and I had been looking forward to sparring with him for some time. I've really come to love the form, Luen Jia. This is the form that I mentioned as causing me to appreciate forms in my post on weeks fourteen through seventeen, and is also the form for which I was graded in December. There are some takedowns in Luen Jia, and I tried one during our sparring, resulting in applause from the audience and Ismael on the ground. I managed to take him down four times during the first round using this technique. I knew better than to go another round against Ismael; his endurance is legendary at Kunyu Shan, and I believe he is the only person in the history of Kunyu Shan to have bear crawled backwards up the mountain run path the entire way from the temple to Yanxia cave. He's a machine, but very few people were sparring that day and he needed someone to spar with, so I agreed to go a second round. I got the better of him round one, but he got the better of me round two, although I still managed to take him down once during the second round. I watched videos afterwards, and I'm really proud of how well I executed some of those takedowns. I got a ton of compliments from people about my sparring that day, but I feel like a one-trick pony. My takedowns are good, my punching is okay, and my kicking is terrible.

Yesterday a group of us went to Mouping for lunch to see off Kenny and Laura, a couple who will be leaving this week. Afterwards the seven of us went to an ice cream shop.  One of the others was unable to finish his ice cream, so I finished it for him. This happened a few more times. I finished my ice cream and Kenny finished his, but I finished the ice cream of the five others, so I was in ice cream bliss.

Drinking tea at a tea shop in Mouping

Drinking tea at a tea shop in Mouping

Tags: china, martial arts



Glad to hear things are still going well. Nice work in sparring. I wouldn't worry too much about the one-trick pony thing: as long as you keep trying other stuff, it's a safe bet that other things will start to click for you.

  Chris Farnsworth Jan 20, 2014 2:07 AM


I want a table like that! Can you bring one back for me?

  Christina R Jan 21, 2014 1:53 AM


Hey, if the takedown was working, why not keep doing it? I feel like with marital arts, you learn and practice lots of techniques, but when it comes to practical application, sparring for example, its inevitable that you are going to gravitate to some "go-to" techniques. As long as you maintain your repertoire and remain adaptable, I see nothing wrong with this natural tendency.

  Gus Jan 21, 2014 1:02 PM

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