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

Kung Fu in China Weeks Thirty-Seven and Thirty-Eight

CHINA | Wednesday, 14 May 2014 | Views [560] | Comments [3]

Right before one of the afternoon training sessions, I saw Master Xu playing with a pair of sticks. Back home I am a fighter for a medieval recreation group called the Society for Creative Anachronism, in which I primarily fight with two swords. We don't use live steel; we use swords of rattan wood, so it's kind of like being hit with a baseball bat, but fortunately medieval armor is quite good at preventing injury. Now, Master Xu is often referred to as The Fridge by the students here, as he is built like a small refridgerator. He is very short, very squat, physically dense, extremely strong while equally agile, and we all recognize him as a total badass. In a moment of childish enthusiasm I grabbed two sticks from a shelf and brandished them as if challenging Master Xu, mostly expecting him to give me an amused grin and then ignore me, or possibly just ignore me altogether. To my surprise, he entertained me and came at me with his two sticks. Here I was about to fight two stick on two stick against The Fridge. I was very careful to hit him very lightly as my next of kin would have had to be notified if I were to hit him too hard, but I did surprisingly well. I was able to block or dodge all of his strikes to my body, and although he hit me a few times on the knees and shins, I was hitting him on the torso and neck. I call that a win. He was not holding back as much as I was, although he was clearly holding back, so I was still in more pain than he was.

A few of us took a walk to a nearby waterfall. On the way, we saw some piles of bricks, so we grabbed a few as none of the other three had ever tried breaking a brick before. When we reached the waterfall each of the other three tried breaking a brick. Two succeeded, one did not. Having already broken one recently, I tried stacking two bricks and breaking them together. I succeeded in doing so, so next time I'll have to try three. I heard of one student who is no longer here breaking four at once. Maybe one day...but for now I'll be happy if that I could break three without breaking my hand.

One Friday, Master Xu let us know that he would be away that weekend and would not be back in time for the morning training sessions that Monday. He announced to the class that he wanted me to run the morning training sessions while he was gone. This was surprising, as I am so new to the group. There is one student in the group that is newer than me, but everyone else in the group has been doing Shaolin for longer than I have. The first morning session was Shaolin basics, so it wasn't terribly complex, and the second was forms, in which each student could work independently on whatever forms they were working on, so I couldn't fail too terribly, but I really think he has more faith in me than I deserve as I don't know Shaolin basics as well as the other students in our group. I did, however, take it as a great compliment from Master Xu.

To challenge myself last week during the temple run I was planning on carrying Jamie from Australia on my back while she carried a log. I asked someone to arrange to have the log brought to the temple as I didn't want Jamie or me to have to carry it up to the temple, given the challenge we were about to undertake. Firstly, nobody brought the log. Secondly, Jamie was delayed in getting there because of circumstances beyond her control. So, I asked Nicholas from South Africa if I could carry him on my back to the top of the run. He obliged and I carried him up to Yanxia cave. I was quickly thankful that nobody brought the log as it was a long walk to be carrying someone uphill the entire way. I did not carry him up the heavily staired portions, so I only actually carried him about two-thirds of the way. It was challenging and my legs felt like jelly by the end of it, but afterwards I didn't feel like I had challenged myself as much as I could have.

On May 3rd there was a kung fu competition at Yangma Island in which thirteen of us from Kunyu Shan competed and I performed the Mantis form, Ba Yuan To Tau. We were the only non-Chinese competitors there. After our school performed, we all went into town to shop and eat. We didn't stick around for the rest of the competition as we had already been there all morning while other schools performed and there were still a lot of schools yet to perform so it was going to be an all day affair. Watching the Chinese perform the same form I was going to perform was a little intimidating. Five days later the placings were announced. They handed out third place medals and then second and then first. As they were announcing the first place medals I hadn't been called up for third or second, so I realized that I hadn't placed, until they called my name for a first place medal. It felt pretty darned good, coming in first place at my first ever kung fu competition.

Demonstrating my kung fu superpowers at Yangma Island

Demonstrating my kung fu superpowers at Yangma Island

Tags: china, martial arts

Comments

1

Congrats on the win in your first competition. Also, that's pretty cool that you got to play some two-stick :)

  Chris Farnsworth May 15, 2014 8:52 AM

2

i would try to practice breaking a brick with your left hand instead of increasing bricks on your right
= )

  jaros May 16, 2014 11:17 AM

3

Congrats on your accomplishments. May 3 is the anniversary of my mother's death - so it is awesome to know that a friend was participating in something awesome on that day. :)

  Kirsten Jun 3, 2014 8:28 AM

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