World Travel has been on the priority list for years, but excuses or lack of strategic planning to execute has been part of the chemistry. Until 3 years ago, when the 1st Major trip happened in India...but thats a Blog for another day. Today, we speak of week 1 of 3 months in China.
This Blog Series will cover the experience of Chinese Culture from day to day customs, Kung Fu training, and the human experience & interactions that will create the final push of completing the Movement Athletics Training Philosophy, Culture, and Programs that I invite all of you to explore.
Enarmoured by Martial Arts movies, Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Donnie Yen, and Asian Culture in general I promised myself I'd gift an experience like this to myself to share with the world aka my family, friends, and online followers. I wanted to know what it would be like training alongside Shaolin Monks, Sifu's who have been in the trenches of Daily Training regemins from 6-8 hours a day of Movement, Learning, and pursuit of Kung Fu, or Mastery.
Now, I'm here to break my own 'Fantasy' of what it is live and train like some of the most respected Artists, Athletes, Fighters, Humans to take the human body to its undiscovered potential. I always imagined my experience being in some remote temple hidden in Lush Green Mountains, with streams, vibrant colored plants, sounds of birds, chanting monks, and the 'Kia' breath of power booming from Monks in training.
That is not how this journey begins.
A Red-Eye flight out of Pasco Washington to Seattle, to Shanghai, and Zhenzou. A 1AM taxi cab ride that takes 4 hours to get to my 1st destination 5AM.
My introduction comes in a 'Military' like run school. The schedule is run tight, little to NO mercy for lack of punctuality. I didn't know that leaving campus was very very rarely allowed besides Wednesdays 8AM-2PM and Sundays 8AM-5PM. That doesn't leave much time for exploring China, which I know there is more to it than this training academy...but this certainly set the tone to appreciate the freedom that will follow after a month or so here.
On my 1st day, after I paid my Month Long Fees, I recieved 1 Metal Bowl and set of Chopsticks that is to be my feeding tools. Washing them after every meal. Dishes don't ever pile up around here...wish that was the case everywhere. We have to pay for 'Hot' water (its very warm at best), using a prepaid card that we insert into a device in the bathroom. Creates a respect for energy and water. When we leave our room we are to unplug all items to reduce energy usage, failure to do so could result in having your electronics removed for who knows how long. Rooms are to be kept clean, or again lose personal items and physical training reward (notice I call it reward vs punishment haha).
My room has 3 beds, my 1st roomate 'Kevin from Germany' arrived 2 days later. I have about 30 other 'foreign' classmates 1/2 from Germany, France, Russia, Albania, Sri Lanka, Iraq, USA, and Netherlands. I'm sure I've missed a few. The other 500 Students in the school are local Chinese. And they are Bad A$$ little humans when it comes to Martial Movement Patterns.
6:00 AM Roll Call Prep Meeting
6:10-7:10 AM Morning Conditioning & Stretching
7:20-7:50 AM Breakfast
7:50 Roll Call Prep Meeting
8:00-11:10 AM Power, Strength, & Mobility Conditioning
12:00 PM Lunch
2:00 PM Roll Call Prep Meeting
2:10-5:20 PM Skills, Forms, and Cardio Conditioning
5:30 PM Dinner
6:20 PM Roll Call Prep Meeting
6:20-8:00 PM Free Training (Choice of Personal Practice or Leisure time)
8:45 PM 'Lights Out'
This is the schedule Monday thru Saturday. Sunday you can sleep in and Roll Call is 7AM. Almost everyday Roll Call remains the same, it's the most regimented experiences I've ever had, it has it's pros and cons. To my benefit...or not, I am on the 5th floor with my roommate so LOTS of stairs on top of the training. I recieved my 1st reward/punishment for being late today. The schedule they handed us was not updated and I didn't know we had to Report to Roll Call even on our off day Sundays at 6:20PM. I was 8 minutes late and costed me 100 Push-Ups. ON the brightside at least I didn't go down the stairs JUST for roll call, got my pump on lol.
Most days begin with a 1200 Meter Run, 10 minute stretch session, and then conditioning. I believe we are running about 15-20 miles a week, there are multiple runs most days. Some around the nearby village, around the school track, or up one of the smaller Yuntai Mountain/Hills. Lots of Squats, Broad Jumps, Multiple Directional Kicks, Various DEEP lunge stances, sprints, backbends, bridges, push ups, acrobatics,...I can't list all of it. SOOO much. ALL I can say about the training, is it requires every inch of human ability, focus, and spirit to get through it. And I've only been here 5 days and we've had unexpected interuptions from sick classmates or goverment surprises that have 'robbed' us of hard training.
I imagine the next 3.5 weeks here will be harsher and more rewarding in terms of Fitness Movement Abilities. Already I've noticed increases in stamina, flexibility, and agility. Thats because in 5 days a total of 24 hours of training has been accumalated. As if this wasn't challenging enough, I have been doing this on a strict Ketogenic Nutrition approach. Carbs topping off at 50 Grams a day, most of my fuel has come from Plant Based proteins, Plant based Fats, and lots of Chili Oil Sauce. I would like to see the effects of High Level training on a Extremely Low Carb diet. I've previously achieved skills such as the Hands Stand, 1 Armed Pull-Up, and maintained 5 days a week of Bootcamp sessions on this Nutrition approach, I believe I can do this here.
Ok..lets be real I'd also like to get back to < 8% body fat again. Winter and life put me at 12% and 150lbs, 5 pounds over my preferred Calisthenics & Fighting weight. It has not been easy as the Cafeteria Regularly serves Steamed Bread, Rice, and Noodles almost every meal with maybe 5-10 percent protein. I've had to purchase additional Nuts, Butters, and Dried Meats to substitute.
There are 4 Main Training Arts happening here.
Sanda: Chinese Kickboxing
Shaolin Kung Fu
Tai Chi & Qi Gong
The most popular choice is Shaolin Kung Fu, and I'm not being biased but of all of these the Kung Fu has the most rigorous of Conditioning and Movement Varieties. While Sanda has much more immediate 'Real Combat' training involved, it doesn't have the same intensity (until they are sparring). That is the 1 thing that I am missing out on. One of the students here recently came from Thailand and I'm convinced if I'm to spend time on a Fight Style of this type I'm better off doing it in Thailand. The Sanda training here isn't as intense as that of Thailand, so I'll do my Boxing back in the USA, and Muy Thai in Thailand by 2021.
The Kids, the Schools, Politics?
The thing about training in this particular school, the government has its hands on it. Whether it is good or bad not for me to decide. I was told that this event was organized to show how welcoming they are to foreigners, how well the students are learning english, and possibly to play up the 'quality' of student experience is at this 'top notch' local school. This particular school was unlike the Martial Arts school. The students definitely were not in the Kung Fu shape Yuntai students are in, but they seem to come from more well off families so the focus is on Educated Career paths. A handful of us were chosen to go to a school in Jiaozou for a 'Field Day' of sorts. We practiced conversations with kids, and played competitive relay type games against other classes. The kids went WILD for us, it was like Hollywood Papparazzi. Photos, video, they all wanted to be heard, and share their English skills to us. Crazy thing is..they go to school 7AM until 630PM, 1 to 50 student to teacher ratio. The manners and self control of these kids is UNCANNY...Teachers in the USA can barely handle 1 to 25. Some have classes with 30 students and barely maintain sanity. But it's a different world, these students don't question teachers, treat them with the utmost respect, if they don't...hours of holding a squat position, or a sugar cane stick swat. It may seem barbaric, but these kids certainly respect authority in ways I wish our youth in the USA did.
In Conclusion to this 1st Entry
The Road to Mastery comes with many parts of the whole:
Learning to be a Student and beginner again. It is quite rare that I enter a group of people and find myself not knowing what to do and having others be more advanced than I.
Mental Endurance & Adaption. Different customs, unknown training protocals, and being ok with whatever is dished to me.
Spiritual Connection with oneself. I found myself having internal dialogue during the Bhuddhism class. Conversations with my muscles, giving them permission to heal. Silent emotional discussion between my mind and an elusive spiritual energy. Finally found it in the breath of life. A relaxed focus (is that possible? Yes!)
I look forward to the next few months. I'll share the things that stand out to me, and may the insight make the world seem a bit smaller & give you the wings to explore yourself.
For Photos and Video check out Instagram: Pedros_Movement_Athletics and Facebook.