So, the whole ‘one post every fortnight’ thing didn’t really happen did it. Well, I did sit down to write one a couple of weeks ago and got about a paragraph in before realising I just didn’t have much to say and kind of grinding to a halt. I guess to you all it might seem like there should be plenty to write about here but the truth is that some weeks just roll past.
Anyway, in the weeks since my last post, we continued our normal training routine for a few days (still without the sifus) before the Chinese new year festivities began. There wasn’t much to see for me this year. I mostly just stayed at the school and trained a bit on my own. The only thing to note really was the feast, which featured some slightly nicer than usual food, followed by the obligatory fireworks display. The next week my Sifu returned from his holidays and we resumed normal training. After a few more days the other sifu also returned and the class size was able to go back to it’s normal size.
One nice thing that came out of the sifus being away, other than the experience of teaching a class, was that on their return they were both very grateful for our help. So much so that we, the other monitors and I, were invited to go for dinner in the local restaurant with the Sifus. A very nice gesture and a good opportunity to see a few more of the customs and manners that surround the master student interaction. We already knew from previous meals not to tuck in to any of the dishes until the Sifus had taken some, but what we learned about at this meal was the drinking etiquette. While normally we are advised not to drink, and if we do to only drink one, this time we were given a bottle of beer each, almost without choice, as the most senior sifu would be drinking. Throughout the course of the meal we then continued to down glasses as the sifu toasted, not stopping to enjoy it at our own pace, just knocking the glasses back as and when the sifu said. Once our one bottle was done, sifu decided he’d not finished toasting so we were offered another as it was a ‘special occasion’. Anyway, it doesn’t sound so strange now to write about now but it felt a little weird at times. None the less, it was quite an nice evening, if a little strained by the desire to leave the best most respectful impression of us.
As if that wasn’t enough to make me feel appreciated, the next week led to another nice surprise. Once, maybe twice, a year the students are all asked to vote for the top eight excellent international students and yep, you guessed it, this year one of them’s me. The results were announced last week and a few days later we had a little photo shoot in our finest outfits while holding our little red booklets that (at some point) will contain certificates saying that we’re excellent international students. The international part is a little irrelevant as we’re all international but the excellent part I’m pretty chuffed with. Nice to know that people, sifus and students, see that you’re trying your best.
There’s one last thing to update on I guess and this one’s got me a little nervous. Some of you may remember that this time last year a number of students were preparing to head to Hong Kong for an international wu shu martial arts competition. That time round I’d only really just started so only knew one form. This year however, with a few more interesting things to show off, I’ve decided to head there myself and give it a try. I’ve signed up to try three forms, my Shaolin tiger form, Shaolin double moon blade form and my Tai Chi Yang 36 sword form. As such a lot of my spare time is now taken up with practicing them but I’m still not really confident. In particular my moon blade form is a really tough one and I’m having trouble even finishing it without having to stop and gasp for air. The whole thing may end up as just an expensive holiday to Hong Kong, especially if I end up doing really badly, but it’s an experience that I doubt I’ll get another chance at. To try my luck at an international competition, to go and see Hong Kong, I couldn’t really say no this time could I. Anyway, I’m still not certain of the dates, somewhere around the 17th of March I think, but I’ll try and keep you posted. Fingers crossed though, maybe I can walk away with a medal or two.
Other than all that I’m not too sure what else to say for now. Training continues as normal, day to day. I continue to be amazed by a small selection of people who just don’t seem to try at all. They ignore all advice given to help them improve, continue to train without putting in any effort and simply go through the motions each day. I don’t know why that irritates me as much as it does but it really bugs me. Anyway, I’m still pushing forward. I’ve nearly finished my current wing chung and baji forms, my splits are looking pretty good although they still really hurt when I get low, and last weekend I even started a shaolin mantis form if a private class. All’s good here in China. How’s things where you all are???