February 19th - I'm Back!

Bryce "the Flexible", Ashley "the Injury", Terina "the Forms Master", Josh "the Hip Guy", Matt "the Change", Shilat "the Tiger" and then Me.

My Thoughts 😲

I'm finally back after so many days and there is so much to catch up on.

First things first, if you are going to China then you need multiple VPNs prepared incase they block one of them. You see, Express VPN went down on the 14th and just started back up today. In the time span of 5 days I found out a different VPN that works well on my phone called PandaVPN. So now, I use ExpressVPN on my PC and PandaVPN on my phone.

Tech lesson over, time for what has been going on.

The Update 💬

On the 13th we did some nice Qi Gong exercises called Yi Jin Jing (易筋经) which is supposed to be able to help stretch your tendons, different from Ba Duan Jin (八段锦) which helps your breathing and stretches your spine and muscles. We then did some pretty intense power training which was all legs and lower body strength. Everything from tree hugs, squats, duck walks, jumps, lunges, bear crawls and running. It was also the day that I noticed my knee was starting to hurt.

On the 14th I took part in my first test. We did some basic power stretching and warmed up then went into the testing. Three Masters watched and judged us, Master Ning (Tai Chi/Baji Master), Master Peng (Shaolin / Flexibility Master), and Master Yan (Shaolin / Sanda Master). Most people only performed one form but me and another girl performed two. (She performed it while injured so kudos to her) I performed the very basic 五步拳 and 集体拳. Nothing was said towards me which is good and bad but they did tell me later on I'll be getting ready to learn a new form next week. After the test, it was just me training on my own and relaxing.

Throughout the weekend I did my own training as I practiced forms and did various stretching so that I could stay in "ready shape" for Monday but I did notice my knee getting worse and worse as the days went on.

Then Monday came where we reviewed forms and worked on basics. It was this day that I knew something definitely wasn't right with my knee. It could've been the really cold weather that came in plus the intense training we do, I'm still not sure. All I know is after this day of training my knee was shot and I didn't want to do much else besides lay down and eat what snacks I had.

Tuesday was the day a Master finally noticed my injury during Jumps and Rolls class when I jumped and landed but my knee didn't support me and I just kinda hobbled away. Tuesday I did the best I could during training but most of my time was spent resting, stretching and watching others. It was a rough day for me to admit that I had to rest for a day or two. I still managed to do Baji Quan with Master Ning and had a good conversation with him on what exactly Neijia Martial Arts are and how they help you. Thankfully I took notes from our conversation as I think they will help me in the future.

My Second Favorite Meal so far: Fish, Veggies with Mushroom, Bean Sprouts with Chicken
Which leads us to today where my knee still hurts but I can walk and do stances on it. Today was an interesting day as one of the Masters was injured and couldn't teach so Master Peng taught us all part of a new form that was just made "official" for competition. (Maybe he wants us to compete in the future?) It isn't Shaolin though which disappoints me but it is still fun to do. It is a Long Fist Form (长拳) called "初级三路" or "The basic three roads". It is really long for a basics form but it does go over all of the basic movements, stances and hand gestures that we need to know for Kung Fu. Many of the students don't like it as it is hard and unrelated to many of their focuses. I enjoy it as it is one of the few things I can actually do at the moment so all of today has been spent stretching and studying this form.

In Conclusion...

Even though things at Maling Kung Fu School are not as what I expected or imagined them to be, I still like it here because at the end of the day my "problems" are so... simple compared to the problems I could be having in a normal life. Some of my problems are so silly like sore muscles, my knee, can't do a move or a form right, struggling with sparring and so on. But I have all of these problems because I chose to be here. I saved up the money, I traveled here, I put in the time and effort to make my body sore from all that we do. So, even though things are not as I expected (and things are still changing) its good to be here and see all the others here who are putting in the time and effort to come and learn Kung Fu, to escape the "normal life" for a little bit.

I'm just here trying to be a wannabe-warrior monk and I'm having fun doing it.

-Johnny "白武龙"

Don't forget to check out my Instagram for other posts. I can't post videos here due to the VPN issues and slow internet.

February 13th - Foggy Training and Humbling Sparring

A Foggy Morning in Xinyi

My Thoughts 🤔 我的想法

It is Thursday, I've done so much this week physically and mentally. I'm starting to see what I like and dislike about this place while also seeing how far I have to go to actually "master" these skills that they are teaching me. I'd like to learn the basics way more because after practicing them I feel like I improve in everything from stamina, flexibility, coordination and more. I've also learned the importance of recovery, eating well, and stretching after our workouts. It will be interesting to see how far I've come after a year of training as right now that seems so far away. Writing my good and bad experiences here really helps me keep going so thank you to those that look at this and I hope you can continue towards your goals as well.

Eggs, Tomatoes, Veggies, and Rice
I learned just remembered that tomorrow is my first test in front of all the school's masters. I guess I will perform my two forms, 五步拳 and 集体拳. I'm not nervous but I don't feel prepared for a test so soon. I have just started and my basics are still bad. I've heard speed is the key when it comes to performing these forms but I just want to do them at my pace, my way, so I know that what I did is... me to my fullest. In reality, I'm tested everyday when I'm here as the coaches notice what you do on the weekends, they see how you train in class, and they can see if you are giving your fullest or not. So this "test" tomorrow is just one of many that I will have to conquer in my year here. I still hope I do well.

Training 🥋 训练

So far the training has been a lot. So many things to remember and so many things we are told to do in our free time to prepare ourselves for the future classes. In Shaolin Classes I'm still learning the basic kicks and punch combinations as well as two forms. In Baji Quan I am learning the basic form and every class I learn a new move and it's use. Same in Xing Yi Quan and Wing Chun. On top of all the various martial arts we are learning we have a class for flips and jumps where they are trying to teach me how to back flip and then our Qi Gong/Conditioning class where they are training my body to be tougher. Then there is Sanda (Kickboxing) where I am learning the basics of how to fight as my basics are not good.

And that is my experience here so far, my basics are not good so I am unable to do the advanced moves. It'll be a long journey but, hopefully, after a year my basics will be good.

Now, it is after classes and after a filling dinner that I may reflect on what my training was today. Thursday and Fridays at Maling Kung Fu School are the easier days.You have the option to do morning Tai Chi everyday which is a nice warm up and a nice additional class for those who are focusing on doing Tai Chi... I didn't do it today as I was sleeping. (nice excuse) But then we go into the morning Qi Gong (气功) class which is a nice relaxing class where you can learn things like 八段锦 or 少林易筋经 which are these stretching/breathing routines to help stretch not the muscles but the tendons in your body while the breath refreshes and awakens you.  

Then, we went into conditioning which is like what you see in the movies. You're hitting a bag of sand (or in our case metal bbs) with your palm, lifting things with your fingers to improve your tiger/eagle claw, and then you are hitting each other in various parts of the body to get stronger. My hands and arms were tired and bruised after but now they are okay. If you do the conditioning correctly you shouldn't be mangled and damaged after. We all then had our lunch time but soon went into power training which was leg day today. Lots of tree hugging, squatting, duck walking, bear crawling, frog hopping and running.

After that it is over, you have an hour of free time before dinner and then after dinner you have your free time to do what you wish. For me, I've been stretching in my free time which seems to help me recover from all the various different workouts we do and then I come and write!

I have a "test" tomorrow to see how my skills are, how is your week going to end?

-Johnny "白武龙"

February 11th - Second Week of Training Begins

My Thoughts 🤔 我的想法

I like the training that we do here. It is fun and even though some students feel "trapped" in the school because of the sickness it doesn't bother me that much because I came here to train so training is what I'll do. I hope after a year here that I'll show some improvement of some kind as right now I don't feel any improvement yet. I have trouble going into the stances now, simple workouts like pull ups and dips are hard, and there is so much in the classes that I cannot do like the Jumps and Rolls.  But, I can do other things like the two forms I know and the sweeps. I'm one of the few guys that actually does Sanda too which is interesting.

I think what is causing me to get "overwhelmed" by the training we do is that my original goal was to do the splits and get stronger. Now that I'm here I've realized that there is so much to focus on and learn that my goal has gotten pushed to the side even though I didn't mean to. Master Peng told us a simple thing that they do at the Shaolin Temple before every single class and that is stretch. I think I will try to do this as well or at least stretch in my time between classes. Maybe that will help as recently I've been resting a lot... I've even missed the morning Tai Chi classes a few times. Master Yan said yesterday, "When you are the most exhausted is when you'll have the best Kung Fu so persist on through your training and don't stop"  (But he said it in Chinese)

Training 🥋 训练

The training here at Maling Shaolin Kung Fu School is good. Especially the optional classes because they are usually smaller so the teacher gets more of a focus with you. I've decided to do Wing Chun and Xing Yi Quan as the optional classes that I like as they seem very fun and useful to me. I also like the teachers who teach them so that helps as well.

My training on Sunday was "light" compared to what we normally do as I just focused on stretching and learning how to do the sweeps. I find the sweeps to be really fun to do as they look cool but they also stretch your leg muscles and help build control which all are useful since my end-of-the-year goal is to do the splits both ways.

Monday was back to normal classes so we had basic kicks from 正踢腿 to 弹腿 and even a jumping version of 弹腿. That basics class made me realize I have to work on my basics even more because they are terrible. I wasn't able to keep up with the group the Master put me in so I must also get faster and better. Then we moved on to forms where I reviewed 五步拳 and finally learned the last steps of 集体拳 (aka The Shaolin Group Form). I was told that if my basics are really good then everything else will be easier and since everything is hard here so far I'm guessing all of my basics are still bad... so I must 加油!

After the basic and forms class we all then worked on Sanda (Kickboxing) class which is always difficult but fun to do. To me Sanda feels an awful lot like karate but with different (maybe better) hand positioning. You kick with the top of your foot for everything, you do a lot of stance switches to get your kicks in, you chamber (raise) you knee before any kind of kick, and then a big focus is on kicking. It is like karate with boxing punches and it seems to work really well.

And finally after Sanda, it was my first class of Wing Chun taught by Master Peng. This martial art is very different from what I've learned in the past and what I'm learning now. The stance is weird, the footwork is different and you are supposed to be like a spring and use your core to generate force that goes outward to strike but you never over extend yourself. Kind of like a snap hit or a slap where you return your attack to yourself, using the power generated by speed to deal damage. Right now I'm learning the basics and very little of the first form. We will see how it goes.

What are you all doing this week? Learn anything new?

-Johnny "白武龙"

February 9th - A Full Moon and Lantern Festival

The School Yard under a full moon

My Thoughts 🤔 我的想法

Yesterday was 元宵节 and it was kind of cool. There was a full moon out and some great fireworks going off all around us so you could just sit outside the school's walls and watch them go off all over the place. We also got to eat some delicious 汤圆/元宵 for a dessert. I thought it was good and so did a few others. Besides my thoughts on the school yesterday I will say that the food we get is pretty good, you just have to get used to eating many kinds of vegetables and rice all the time. Every day they prepare something new so I can't complain.

Yesterday's Dinner: Vegetables, Potato, Egg and Rice
My training yesterday was really light. I practiced my forms as a warm up then went into practicing Kung Fu Stances, because they are a great stretch, and then finally worked on some Kung Fu Basics like punches, kicks, blocks and sweeps. After all of that I went back into stretching so that my body wouldn't feel stiff after training. I think I trained for 2 hours in total, not much compared to what we did last week. I'm trying to get myself used to having recovery days so that my body can fully heal. I'll stretch everyday and practice forms everyday but I'll do it to a less intensity than during the week. Training is pretty fun though...

Yesterday, we all watched a (pretty bad) movie called "Robin Hood Men in Tights". Normally, I wouldn't watch the movie but I realized I needed to find a way to distract myself so that my body could relax and heal as sitting in my room I was getting antsy. So, I went down and watched the movie with everyone. Even though it was a terrible movie my calves did feel better since I just laid down for an hour or so and didn't move. I think by Monday they'll be ready for some more training!

This is the Luohan Uniform
Another thing that I did was *learn how to use 淘宝 which is a Chinese Online Shopping website similar to Amazon or Ebay. Using that helped me practice and learn some new words in Chinese but I did find a few products that I've been wanting to by in America. One is the Luohan Uniform that is priced around $30 dollars in America but its around $5-10 dollars here. Second is the Monk Socks that I got for my Birthday. Again, they are cheaper and using them in the Winter was amazing so I want to get more. Third is a pair of white Feiyue Workout Shoes so that I can match my black/white socks.

I'm still not sure when I'll buy all of this but I am keeping them saved so that I can buy them later on.


Study 🧠 学习

I haven't been focusing on studying as much as I'd like. I'd like to devote an hour a day to studying so that my vocabulary can keep increasing which would make talking to the Masters easier. Here is what I've studied recently:

江苏 Jiāngsū "Jiangsu"
徐州 xúzhōu "Xuzhou"
新沂市 xīn yí shì "Xinyi City"
运费险 yùnfèi xiǎn "Freight Insurance/Shipping Insurance"
减少 jiǎnshǎo "to lessen, to decrease"
摩擦力 mócā lì "friction"
前滚翻 qián gǔnfān "Forward Roll"
翻来翻去 fān lái fān qù "To roll"
比赛型选手 bǐsài xíng xuǎnshǒu
幼稚 yòuzhì "Childish, Young"
烧水壶 shāo shuǐhú "Electric Kettle"
打呼噜 dǎ hūlū "To Snore"
洗手池 xǐshǒu chí "Sink"
骚扰 sāorǎo "To bother, to harass"
注册 zhùcè "to login"
加厚 jiā hòu "to thicken"
保暖 bǎonuǎn "to warm"
纯棉 chún mián "pure cotton"
透气 tòuqì "to breathe freely, to ventilate"

麻辣串串 málà chuàn chuàn (A food here in China)

夹心山楂 jiāxīn shānzhā (A Candy I like here)

Idioms 💬 成语

吃瓜群众 chī guā qúnzhòng "Peanut Gallery, onlookers who watch but don't have anything to say/do"
龙凤呈祥 lóngfèng chéng xiáng "Dragon and Phoenix bring good fortune"
劳逸结合 láo yì jiéhé "To find a balance between work and rest"

The weekend is almost over, what are you preparing for this week?

-Johnny "白武龙"

February 7th - My First Week of Training

No comments:

February 6th - Getting Back On Schedule

My Thoughts 🤔 我的想法

February 5th 12:55 😷

Even though I am sore as ever after the morning workouts of Tai Chi, Shaolin Basics and Forms; I'm doing okay. My calf soreness isn't that big of a bother, more of an annoyance than anything as once I start sweating and am warm I can focus on forms and movements easily. (Low Stance is still a little hard as well as "Cat Stance") Everyone here is fighting through some sort of pain, whether it be serious or minor. Someone here has a potentially broken hand, another one has a broken foot, a few have very sensitive tendons from power stretching and others are just sore and really tight.

The food today was good, I ate a lot today which makes me a bit nervous as I might've eaten too much. My stomach will let me know later just like it let me know while running this morning! I ran back to the school fast, not because I was training hard, but because I was feeling so uncomfortable. Needless to say I'm drinking and eating enough.

February 6th 13:05 🥋

Today has been, surprisingly, easy compared to the rest. Today we had Qi Gong and Power Conditioning in the morning and later on we will have Power training. So its only 3-4 hours of training (4 if you do Tai Chi) today compared to the 4-5 hours we normally do. I thought conditioning was a little... silly to be honest. It wasn't like how my dad or any of my coaches taught me about conditioning. Some of the exercises I liked while others I really thought were dumb (tapping your head on a wall). No Iron Finger training like my dad does, no heavy bag kicks to make your legs stronger and no slapping a bag of beans or sand to make your palms better. Just tapping a wall with various hand shapes until time was up then you and your partners would lightly* hit on various parts of the body 50 times whether it was kicking, punching or using pads to slap.

Before all of that... silliness we did something I was actually interested in which was “八段锦" which is a health Qi Gong type exercise that uses breathing and stretching to improve your health. Thanks to Shi Yan Lei and Shi Long Pang I knew a little bit of what we were doing because I would practice it at home when I was too sore, too injured or recovering.

Among other things I discovered I liked 形意拳 better than 八极拳. I think I will stick with training 形意拳 so that I can really learn a few things here as I don't really like the Tai Chi style they train here and 八极拳 wasn't that fun to me. Maybe I'll just keep training them all as I do have time for it since I can't leave the school yet.

*After 50-100 times of lightly getting hit it does hurt.

Study 🧠 学习

February 5th 12:55

I'm really gonna have to study more and more because these other students and even the masters are looking to me for when there is a language barrier. This is gonna be tough as I've had to be the translator multiple times over the past few days.

沙袋 "Sand Bag"
出气筒 "Punching Bag"
踢脚垫/踢垫 "Kick Pad"
踢盾 "Kick Shield"
脚靶 "Kick Pad/Kick Shield" (This is the one my teacher says)
手眼协调 "Hand Eye Coordination"
寄出 to send (by mail)
连续 continuously
连接 to connect
耐心 patience
灵活 flexible, agile, quick

February 6th 13:29

As well as studying "normal" words for talking, I also have to study various martial art words and Chinese "philosophy" words. These words are taken from my 形意拳 class that I had yesterday. Each word is a type of attack in 形意拳.

劈 Pī "Chopping"
钻 Zuān "Drilling"
崩 Bēng "Crushing"
炮 Pào "Exploding"
横 Héng "Crossing"

Hopefully, I'll be able to get some pictures of me doing the attacks so that you can understand what they are.

Also, I have to study the names of the 八段锦 movements just so that I know them later on.


Yea, this is a lot to study for four movements but I have until next week to memorize them. We will see how it goes.

I'm trying to stay on schedule but I will say that this training is kicking my butt. What are you struggling with this week?

-Johnny "白武龙"

February 4th - Sore Muscles

My Thoughts 🤔 我的想法

I'm not feeling it fully throughout my body but I am feeling the constant "battle" to do the things that were once normal. Before, going into the basic stances was easy and I could do them at anytime but now I need to warm up before I'm able to drop fulling into my "Low Stance" (仆步) among many other things. I think what is most sore is my legs, we really use them a lot for things in kung fu like kicking, jumping, running, rolling, sweeping, fighting and did I mention kicking? Most of our stretches just focus on the legs and lower back since those are the key muscles that we are using. For rolls and wrestling (摔跤) we also stretch our arms and neck so that they are loose and "safe".

I do think it is weird that we don't focus on any kind of recovery but we do get a 30 minute break in between classes and a 2 hour lunch so those are good times to relax... or practice more which is what most, if not all, the students do. We relax my stretching, we warm up by running and stretching, we cool down by stretching. Stretching, stretching, stretching. You'd think that my flexibility would be improving by grand amounts but it hasn't... yet. Even though we are sore (some don't say it while others say it constantly) we are all getting better at doing stuff while we are sore/injured so think what we will be able to do when we are healed and healthy?

I chose this place for many reasons and on a different day I'd tell you a different answer but each answer follows this idea. I want to challenge myself. And that is what this place is doing for me. I can see the dedication in many people and how we are all trying each day to get better. After a year it will be cool to see how far we all have come.

I hope I'll have some good progress.

Study 🧠 学习

Today (and recently) I have been the "interpreter" for one of the coaches, Master Yen. Though my translations might not be 100% accurate, I am getting the good idea and am able to explain it to the students.

注册 to register/to login
抱怨 to complain
关于 about
摔 to fall, tumble
法 law, method
拆招 to tear down
番茄 tomato
胡萝卜 carrot
重复  to repeat

My days are hard but I can feel it will all be worth it. How do you feel at the moment?

-Johnny “白武龙”