News at last

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???

Nearly a new Chinese year

So, another couple of weeks have passed and I have to say, it already feels like I never left. The routine here is so easy to slip into and once you’re there time really just rolls on, week after week. There have been a few changes to note though. The most annoying being my room mate going back home, leaving me just one night on my own before another student returned from their holidays. Sadly I am not particularly fond of this one, although it’s difficult to define exactly why though. I just don’t think we click so I’ve taken to spending all my time wrapped up in bed in the corner of the room with my headphones on being highly antisocial.

Other than that, I’m pleased that most of my body has caught up with the training and is back at full speed and power, with the exception of my lower legs. For some reason they just won’t readjust and have been aching massively every day of the last week, steadily getting worse as it goes on. I’m not sure if it’s from the stamping or running, probably a combination, but it’s a strange chronic ache that lingers around the whole of the lower leg, almost radiating up from my ankles. Luckily it’s the weekend now, then we only have two days training next week before holidays for the Chinese new year, so they should get some rest. Hopefully they’ll readjust after that.

In other news, the training has been a little strange these last few weeks due to the absence of the sifus. At first, the main Wing Chung master was away, due to a family emergency, so our sifu was running both classes. This leads to us having a class size of around 26, which is huge considering it’s normally 10-12. This went on for around a week, including a few days where our Sifu was not available also so the monitor for the other group and I had to run the classes. After that the other Sifu returned and ours went on holiday. This lasted for about a day and a half before he was called away again when his family situation escalated. That was on Tuesday last week. Since then we’ve been running the show, again. Leading the group, teaching new moves where we can and generally trying to keep everyone on track. It’s been and interesting experience though and given a good feeling of what it might be like to run a class someday. It was probably harder here though, than it would be back home, as most of the people here already know more than me, plus after training as long as they have many people saw this as a potential opportunity to slack off a little. Either way, we got through it and will hopefully not have to run things much longer before the sifus return. Maybe only 2 days, but we’ll see.

The weather here also took a very cold turn recently. I was starting to think that I’d missed all the cold weather and that it was going to be a surprisingly warm winter with little to no snow, then it all hit. Over the course of two days we were hit by a big dump of snow that covered everything and let to a few sessions of snow shoveling and sweeping. It may have passed now though as this morning the snow has almost completely melted away.

Other than that, there’s not much to say. Next week on Thursday will be the Spring festival, or chinese new year. Because of that we have three days off, although I think I will still try and get some training in, even if it’s just some stretching to try and stay loose. It’s amazing how quickly my body tightens up and forgets how to do things when I don’t train.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Do remember to send me comments, emails or messages on skype. I’d love to hear how you’re all doing.

Happy Chinese New Year to you all.

Back again

Hello from China once again. I’m back again and looking forward to a 2014 spent mostly training. When I last posted I was a couple of weeks in to my return to Kunyu shan and finishing my time in China with some Wing Chung. The rest of my training time here was reasonably uneventful, so I’ll gloss over that time and move on. Following that I spent a wonderful month back in the west. Staying with the folks, in England and Switzerland, visiting many awesome people and generally enjoying all the comforts that I used to enjoy. But that time has passed, very quickly it feels, and now I find myself back in my little room, lights out already at 9pm and about to go to sleep. It does feel good to be home though.

This year, I’m a little less certain exactly what I’ll be doing and when, as I have a number of things I’d like to achieve before I return to England. One thing I have resolved to do though, is to post more often, which may mean shorter posts, but I hear that’s what my readers want so I’ll see what I can do.

Since being back there’s very little to report on, obviously, other than how welcoming everyone is here. So many people with big smiles, handshakes and hugs at my return. Other than that one little fun point is that I think I actually experienced my first earthquake last night. Just after bed time there was a rumble that built up as the room began shaking. It was really only very slight and lasted only a couple of seconds but I really can’t explain it any other way.

Anyway, that’s all for now as the internet’s about to die and I really need a good nights sleep before training tomorrow. Next post, as soon as I can.