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

Kung Fu in China Weeks Thirty-Five and Thirty-Six

CHINA | Monday, 28 April 2014 | Views [659] | Comments [4]

When I first arrived at Kunyu Shan, there were a few students that really impressed me with some of the feats they did. They seemed to push themselves and do things that were physically very challenging just for the intrinsic challenge of doing so. I admired those students and used them as role models to push myself harder. I knew that I would never be one of those students as I can be lazy and don't care to push myself too hard, but if I kept those models in mind I would improve and not be a slacker. An example was that, in my first month here, I saw these students carrying a tire or the log from the Wing Chun hall up during the temple run, so I tried it also. I haven't seen anybody do this since a couple of months after I arrived, so I decided to do so last Friday.

I grabbed the log and carried it to the temple, where I proceeded to carry it up to Yanxia Cave while also wearing a 15kg/33lb weight vest. During this, one of the other students saw me and exclaimed, "You're a badass!" Other comments I heard during this were that I was "impressive,"crazy," and "hardcore." When I reached the top, Master Xu took the log from me and set it in the crooks of his elbows, then straightened his arms with sufficient force to project the log through the air to his hands, then projected it back to the crooks of his elbows from which he then repeated the process several times. He then gave the log back to me and I duplicated this excercise, expecting to fail, but it was easier than it looked so I also repeated it several times. Next, he took the log in the crooks of his elbows again, stood facing me, and straightened his arms with sufficient force to project the log over his hands and into the crooks of my elbows. I then duplicated his actions to project the log back to him, and we repeated this excercise, tossing the log back and forth to each other several times. During this excercise, several students who had reached the cave were gathering in a group watching Master Xu and me. Between this demonstration and the student calling me a badass, I realized that I have indeed become one of those students that I looked up to when I first arrived. It was an interesting epiphany.

I've now been in Master Xu's group for two weeks. I went from being a senior Mantis student to a Shaolin noob. Master Xu seems much more haphazard in his teaching methods, whereas Master Qu was very systematic. Some highlights of my first two weeks of training in the new group were me remaining standing upright while Master Xu used a three foot long log as a battering ram against my stomach to condition it, and my doing a butterfly stretch with Master Xu standing on my knees and bouncing up and down until my knees touched the ground although they never had before. One student said that I am the only student that cries out for more during power stretching, which isn't actually true as Welsh Ian also cries out to be pushed as much as possible during power stretching, but in any case Master Xu appears to have latched on to this and seems to get amusement out of inflicting pain on his students. During some punching drills, he used a wooden stick to smack my arms to indicate that it wasn't quite right. During some applications, he had a few students yell out in pain when he demonstrated a technique. He isn't malicious; it's his teaching method although there is certainly an element of schadenfreude in his teaching.

On April 15 I graded for the second time, this time performing the form Ba Yuan To Tau, which translates to White Ape Steals Peach. I got an 8.61, which is better than the 8.49 I got when I performed Luen Jia four months ago, but not good enough to put me in the top three (which ranged from 8.67-8.77). I need to practice the form more as I intend to perform it for a competition in Mouping on May 3rd.

For a while I had intended to try breaking a brick with my hands and finally got around to it last week. There are two ways we try to break them here: with the palm or with the outer ridge of the hand. The ridge is considered the more difficult way to do it, so I had been focusing my conditioning on the outer ridges of my hands for some time now. On April 20 I grabbed a pair of bricks and walked up to the temple alone so that there wouldn't be any witnesses should I fail to break a brick, and set up a camera to film my attempts. There were a couple of Chinese girls at the pagoda I was doing it at so there were still witnesses afterall, but I did succeed and had one of the girls film me breaking the second brick. The three goals I had originally set for myself last September were

1. Drop from 82kg/180lbs to 72kg/160lbs. I reached 71kg this past March.
2. Break a brick with my hands. Done last week.
3. Run all the way to the temple without stopping. I did this the month after I arrived at Kunyu Shan.

I gave myself the year to accomplish these three goals, and have done so in eight months. I had also spontaneously added bearcrawling the temple run and succeeded in accomplishing that as well. I know that I have accomplished a great deal in furthering my physical abilities as well as my ability to push myself harder, but my skills are another matter entirely and I still have a lot of work to do before I'm even a mediocre martial artist.

Preparing to break either the brick or my hand.

Preparing to break either the brick or my hand.

Tags: china, goals, martial arts



Nice pants! ; p

  Christina Apr 29, 2014 2:23 AM


Great work my friend. You're showing impressive dedication, and it's clearly paying off. Good stuff. I look forward to seeing you in a few months.


  Chris Farnsworth Apr 30, 2014 4:09 AM


Thats Awesome!! Keep up the good work :-)

  Crystal Apr 30, 2014 6:29 AM


not sure if you read these comments, but thank you for the scroll and fan !!

mad respect

  Jaros May 3, 2014 10:51 PM

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