I get so caught up in my training here I sometimes forget the rich heritage that comes with the study of Kung Fu. I am lucky enough to learn from my masters who are all from The Shaolin Temple, which is the 1500 year old monastery that is the main temple of the Shaolin School of Buddhism. To educate myself on the compelling history of Kung Fu, to understand what my masters went through in their traditional training, and to motivate myself to train as hard as possible in my last few weeks, I planned a school trip to the Shaolin Temple! Headmaster Bao and Master Du were also going to see their Kung Fu brothers there at the same time, so this had all the hallmarks of a great trip!
It’s been 6 months…that went fast! I remember when I first had the idea of coming to train at Maling Academy that I would be happy if I lasted half a year, so I’m thankful that not only have I lasted, but I really enjoy my lifestyle here. However, this does mean that I do not have long left, so I wanted a momentum to always carry with me to remind myself of the positive thoughts, feelings and ideas that have been catalysed whilst training here, in an effort to live a better life back home. That momentum is a meaningful tattoo!
Nerves? What are these things!? For a guy who rarely gets nervous, something shook me to my core, thus making me THE most nervous I have been in recent years. That something was the ‘1st Annual Xuzhou HuaiHai Holding Cup’ – A new Kung Fu competition in one of our closer cities. I knew for months that we would be attending, but with all the performances lately it kind of snuck up on me.
Finally! Performance time. It has been a long 3 weeks preparing and rehearsing everyday, and with all the changes to the set it was starting to get too laborious. Alas!…the time came and I was ready to lead the team and show the area that their local Kung Fu students are full of energy, enthusiasm and spirit.
A week off always makes it tough to get back into the swing of things. My body felt better than it had in months thanks to a good amount of rest in Beijing, however, it still felt sore in a few places (damn the Great Wall!). I had returned more motivated as well, wanting to push a much as possible. A part of this motivation came from noticing my increased fitness levels while I was away, whether it be from walking long distances with reduced flinching, or from others noticing my bodily changes. Another part came from actually missing the academy and wanting to train with the gang again. Little did I know the return to academy held a roller coaster of events (both emotionally and physically) for the next two weeks.
CONSTANT muscle ache. Frustration with some Shaolin moves. Lack of energy. These are the trinity of things that plague me while I’m here. These factors can get you down, or at least decrease your motivation, so to get over these I personally have to look forward to something that involves a short break. When I first got here I was looking forward to the Chinese New Year break. So now, approaching half a year training (and survival!), I have a week of respite with another travelling member of the Nichols clan…my older sister! It was also a national holiday, the Duānwǔ Jié (Dragonboat Festival). Bring on Beijing!!!
There is more to my story out here than trying to learn Kung Fu. Don’t get me wrong, that is the cool aspect, and I am having a friggin’ ball training with my Kung Fu Brothers (and sisters!). However, an underlying reason to why I journeyed over 5000 miles is to find if the things that granted me happiness back at home was finite, or is there so much more out there? To find out, I think I have to be open to all opportunities. I mentioned this before and it’s why I took the chance to teach English to the Chinese Younglings (Chunglings?). Another such opportunity arose to journey to a slightly further city with my Danish PIC (Partner In Crime) to teach English.