The time has come! Blood, sweat, a bit more blood, and tears have lead me to the final part of my journey at the Maling Shaolin Kung Fu Academy. Before you leave the academy you have a chance to grade anything you have been training, and it is a great chance for the masters to give you some final feedback for you to train when you return home. I had 8 forms to grade; Shaolin Broadsword, Tai Chi Broadsword, Baji Black Tiger Fist, 7 Star Fist and 4 Wing Chun dummy forms. This was the culmination of my training here, so I wanted to give it maximum effort, more speed and definitely more power!
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!
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.
Children EVERYWHERE! Kung Fu Camp (or KFC as I like to call it) has started at the academy. For 40 days in the school summer holidays, approximately 30 children are getting trained by Master Bao and Peter. The place is filled with a different, refreshing energy, as well as the pain of the youngling students training, which we cannot take our eyes off of!
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.