“Watch Me Whip…Now Watch Me Nae Nae” – Learning Shaolin Bullwhip Basics With Headmaster Bao

“Aaahhh! My Back! Aaahhh my face!” These were the constant belows of a group of Shaolin trainees trying to get to grips with the Bullwhip weapon. Master Bao promised after the performance that as a reward he would teach us the basics and a form with the Bullwhip. Now, this was never a weapon that has called to me, but learning anything from Master Bao is a treat. Well, never before has something that was a treat so swiftly turn into a painful experience! 

Master Du came to line up and said Master Bao will take all those not injured through training on the Bullwhip. Immediately, anyone with injuries just shrugged them off because they didn’t want to miss out. In high spirits, we went outside to meet Master Bao and collect our bullwhips. We spread out…a lot! I didn’t trust myself with a whip, let alone the crazy bastards I live with! We did the first basic which was once around the head to gain momentum, then hit out to the side to make thunderous whip noise. Oh my God. The fear was real. It took me 20 minutes just to get over the fear of hitting myself!

Me & Matt happy to pick up our whips. Steve in the background literally thinking “This shit is gonna hurt!”

The whip is literally travelling back to strike me at this very moment. The pain and embarrassment was real

After about half an hour of hesitation and not getting the move right from a fair few of us, Master Bao told us to sit while he had a word with us. Referencing his own training, and how he has been training the younglings he said;

The children, when they can’t do, I beat them…then they do.

Well that’s just great Master Bao. I totally got what he meant though, we needed to push past the mental aspects first.

You have too much choice which makes you stop too soon. You can do it. Don’t give up and believe. You will hurt yourself. Accept that. 

We all agreed, we have more choice so we choose to take the easy road, even when we have the ability. Taking our master’s words into account, I begrudgingly grabbed my whip and took position. The inevitable happened. I went with the strength of Hercules to whip out to my right. As it went flying it turned and whipped round to my back and left arm. Jesus! I haven’t been whipped that hard since I had a girlfriend from Middlesbrough! The pain actually isn’t that bad overall, it instantly sends a striking shock through the body though.

Steve fighting through the pain to try and get the first basic move out the way. HILARIOUS!!!

We learnt to swap arms during the whip for both sides, also, whip forward Indiana Jones style (which is really difficult for me). Steve was witness to me trying to whip forward where it whipped vertically, swung back around hitting my back and somehow my chin. Pain! The whip noise was only drowned out by Steve thunderously laughing like Michael Jackson at the end of ‘Thriller’!

It took me a long time to get the first basic, but after an hour of persistence I could do it! Master Bao does know what he is talking about. The group had varying abilities and we all had to show Master Bao individually everybody showed improvement. This was a great moment to see how everyone had jmproved by simply sticking at it. It was even more delicious to see each person hit themselves then wimper, but try to keep it in slightly because Master Bao was watching…classic Kung Fu moment! Shane and Mike were naturally good at this weapon, and it was damn cool to see.

Everybody trying the Whip! – Thijs looks cool here, but he hit himself…ALOT! Marcel being crazy and smashing everything in his path. Shane being the cowboy he is and doing really well. New girl Emma stuck at it and got the first move sounding great!

It was a fun day. Going from the fear of even swinging the whip, to hitting trees with a thunderous sound was sooooo satisfying. This isn’t my kind of weapon, I’m a staff and sword man really, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to learn how to use it, especially from Master Bao. It was to learn yet another valuable lesson from him. Just when you think you can’t do something, quickly accept it will probably involve some pain (maybe a lot of pain!), move on and get something done! 

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