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October 23rd - 挺好的

While practicing the Jian (剑) yesterday Master Bao told me of a "better" way to practice. It was a way that Master Peng would teach us forms. You break the form into four sections and practice each section individually so that you are able to use your full speed and strength. While doing this you will find moves in the form that are not smooth so then you can go slower on those moves and fix them. He then went on to start working on his yard and left me to practice.While practicing he said I did it "quite good" which is something you rarely hear from Masters. After I said thanks he said, "...But it still can be better. So, keep practicing". That's when I knew I've really made progress on this form.This week has been a really good week for me.Weekend Plans ~ 周末的计划I'd like to get my room all packed and sorted out this weekend. Also, I have to finish editing two videos.Besides that, my plan is just like every other weekend. Train, talk with famil…

October 22nd - Interesting Performance

Master Tang.Plans with Master Tang never go according to plan.That is apart of the adventure I suppose.Tuesday while eating dinner, Master Tang invited me to this performance. He had me wear my monk clothes and even prepare for some questions that the host of the performance would ask me. So, I took my spear form and shortened it down to a "theatrical" version which has all the cool moves and nothing else. I prepared my responses to the questions and even memorized a little introduction of myself so I would be ready.Master Tang, Coach Qi, another Coach and I all left the school at 4:00 pm to go to the village where we were performing. The Coaches and I were allowed to practice on the stage a bit and Master Tang told me to change some moves a little bit. Then, we went to a Kung Fu School and relaxed for a bit.As we were relaxing, Master Tang brought in some random guy who wanted to learn how to do a hand stand and had the coaches teach him. Try to teach him. After waiting aro…

October 21st - Compliments From the Master

I finished studying Dharma's Straight Sword (达摩剑). More so, I was surprised by Master Bao complimenting me on how fast I study and how in shape/conditioned I was for the form. We also joked about how if I train my Kung Fu in the parks of Shanghai how I could become "famous" from that. There is still a lot I need to practice and iron out but it feels nice to end this form this way. Next week, Master Bao wants to take a video of me doing the form. This way he can show students a student doing the form and not just a master.Eating with the Masters ~ 和师傅吃饭Yesterday during lunch, Master Tang asked me if I wanted to go to a small show and perform my Kung Fu. Thirty Seconds is all they need. At first I was hesitant, a thousand excuses flooded into my brain. Then I asked, "What do you want me to do?". He already told me but by asking this question, it calmed my mind. Master Tang elaborated that I would be going with him to a new school and performing my Kung Fu in fron…

October 20th - Deep Sleep

Autumn here is very pretty.The mornings are cool, the afternoons warm, followed by quiet evenings.This kind of weather paired with the training that I do makes me sleep very well.I wonder if I'll remember these mornings as fondly as I do now. How the sunrise would creep through my window. How every morning I'd hear the birds chirping. Before, the mornings used to be more noisy. Zoey and Emma used to rattle their chains and bark. The neighbors' chickens used to crow. Mama and Papa Bao would be roaming around the school doing various tasks. Not anymore.The only "loud" noise in the mornings come from Mufasa, the school's cat, as he meows whenever I'm awake. What will happen to him once I'm gone? Maybe he'll be like Zoey and take off once he realizes I'm not coming back. Whatever happens, I hope he's safe as he is a pretty good cat.Planning ~ 准备Now is the time to start planning on what I'm going to be doing next. For the short term plan of…

October 19th - Empty

Watching Movies.Editing Videos.Crisp Monitor. Sword Slashing.Sweat Dripping.
I love my new laptop.Training ~ 剑法
This weekend I didn't get to my goal of practicing five hours each day which is alright. In total, I practiced for 4-5 hours for the whole weekend. What I discovered in that time was I am not ready to learn the rest of the form. My Jian Basics (初级剑) need a lot of work and relaxing is really hard for me to do in this form. I can tell I've gotten a little bit better. I also see how much I need to improve. Footwork, stances, sword flowers, sword cuts, and much more.Movie Night ~ 电影Saturday was a day of tiredness and demotivation. So, after getting another part for my new laptop, I was able to recover the movies I downloaded on my old computer. What movies? Shaolin (1980), starring Jet Li. This is the movie that reignited the love for Shaolin Kung Fu/Culture. Honestly, it is one of the better filmed 80's Kung Fu movies out there. Then, I watched Kingdom of Heaven, Dir…

October 16th - "The Sword is like a Water Dragon"

"剑似游龙"Running.Jumping.Crouching.Worrying.Slicing.That is what most of my Friday has been full of. Ten kilometers (about six miles) down and a few hours of Jian practice. Next week I'll be "done" learning the Dharma's Straight Sword form but I have such a long way to go at performing it well. The same problems plague me: not enough speed, not fluid enough, and too stiff. Master Bao is more on the traditional side so I can't get a read on if I'm doing better or not. If I have a question or problem, he will answer. If I don't ask, then he will just watch me practice until he feels fit to teach me more. My worrying came from me thinking I was doing too poorly at this form. Master Bao and I ended up talking about some of the uses of the moves which led to us talking about how each weapon has its own characteristics. Not just physical characteristics but also each weapon has its own way of being used. He said before in ancient times, when people would…

October 15th - Hand to Head, Sword to Shoulder

Last evening's training was good.From 7pm to 9pm I worked on various details within Dharma's Sword (达摩剑). I really suck at it as I'm trying to be fluid and quick while also cutting, chopping, pulling and thrusting correctly with the sword. There is a lot of body movements required in this form, a lot of dramatic stance changes (like sitting on the floor then jumping to stand up), and changes in speed. It's a lot to take in on my third day of learning the form... and I've already learned half of it apparently. Because of me focusing on this form so much I haven't power trained and I haven't worked on videos. My bad. There are still 24 hours in the day last time I checked, so the day hasn't changed. Just my priorities. When I realized this I did a really quick leg workout. Simply four sets of twenty five reps of wide squats and calf raises. Not much, but that's all that I need to get me back into the rhythm of power training. I could get really frustr…

October 14th - "Use your Sword like a cowboy"

Never thought I'd hear that from a Kung Fu Master.Let me explain a bit.He was talking about how one should feel and present themselves when wielding the Jian (straight sword). It should be like we see in the movies, standing tall, relaxed, but confident. He said look at other characters of this type too, like cowboys, when they duel they are not nervous. They stand tall, relaxed, ready to shoot. (He even did the two finger guns from the waist Pew Pew)My bad habit for all Kung Fu forms is tensing/raising my shoulders. Da Hong Quan, Long Fist and now the Jian, I've had the same problem throughout all of them. I just need to practice and remember to relax. Which is something easier said than done while performing Kung Fu. That is were part of mastery lies, learning when to relax and tense your body.  Last night, I went hard in training. On top of the normal four hours of training that we did, I practiced an additional two hours on the Jian. I'd like to show Master Bao that I d…

October 13th - Death of Kung Fu Poetry

October sure feels like February.Back to wearing long sleeves, knit cap, and a windbreaker.This creates an odd feeling while training as you slowly go from cold to hot and then to cold again as your sweat meets the cool air. I've already fought this head cold off, don't need to get hypothermia.Today marks the beginning of my 剑 (Jian) training. I have thirteen days to learn what is normally learned in two months. Master Bao says it is possible but I need to practice a lot on my own. That means I will be focusing on this sword for the rest of October and beyond. The movements require a lot of 身法 (Shen Fa) which, to put simply, is the movement of the body. The form also requires a lot of speed and precision, similar to the spear. Movement, speed, precision all adds up to be a tiring and sweaty training session. The form I'm learning is 达摩剑 (Da Mo Jian) Dharma Straight Sword which is quite a well known straight sword form coming from Shaolin. "眼观六路,耳听八方" Master Bao to…

October 12th - Gan Mao La

Green snot.Lotta tissues.Headache.Little issues.
That is how my weekend was spent with a head cold that is finally gone. It feels good to be back to training even though it doesn't feel as intense as it used to. I'm still doing my power training and consuming the protein powder that my classmates gave me. After that week in Xinyi, life is back to "normal". That is... until October 31st where I will be moving to Shanghai for the holidays. Man, time moves fast.Training wise, I've already finished learning my sought after Monk Spade form. After learning it I felt a lil' odd. Came all this way, trained so much, all for me to learn what I wanted to learn in two days. Atleast when I practice the form I enjoy every moment of it because it is so simple and wielding the Spade just feels cool. The next thing I'm learning is Dharma Jian which is a cool straight sword form. Usually you'd study the straight sword is taught in the warmer seasons and over 2-3 months…

October 9th - I'm Back!

It's cold this morning.But...I'm finally back to writing posts as I bought a new computer while in Xinyi.It does feel a bit weird to be back at the school as Master Peng has gone off to Gansu for travel/work. Now, the school houses Master Bao, Coach Qi, Mama/Papa Bao, and me. My plans for my final month at the Kung Fu School are to make some videos, study the Monk Spade, and prep for my Shanghai trip.My leg, which was injured two weeks ago, is now better. Taking two weeks off to recover was probably the smartest decision I've made while here. Even while in Xinyi, there was a day that my leg hurt just from walking around so much. Today will be a test to see how it performs.Just a small update for you guys.Hope your adventures are going well!

September 22nd - Jumping and Rolling

I still can't do an aerial but I am getting closer.That's what today's morning classes were all about Jumping and Rolling under the guidance of Coach Qi. What I learned is that my jumping basics suck and I have very little control of myself while I'm in the air. Every move from my single knee jump, tornado kick, and even my butterfly kick all needed the same problem fixed! Jumping up and not forwards.What I liked about Coach Qi's approach to teaching was he told me, it is going to take time to change these problems. I just needed more and more practice.Other than that, Master Bao and Master Peng are still working on some videos for the school so I didn't really see them at all today. I did Forms and Power Training (legs) in the afternoon. Once the evening arrived I spent my time watching The New Shaolin (2011) which was fun.Yesterday, I had a good talk with Master Bao on a variety of things but today what stuck out to me was him saying how much Shaolin has chan…

September 21st - Fighting Monkeys

Weekend
The weekend was interesting.Saturday was spent training and watching Kung Fu movies.Sunday was spent training with a trip to Maling Mountain.Master Peng invited me to go with him and Master Bao to Maling Mountain for filming. We were there for a while as Master Bao's "brother" took us to various locations in the park, including some hidden locations. While we were filming the Straight Sword, something interesting happened. We saw a monkey climbing a tree. Then he started screeching.The Masters started to laugh and joke about the weird sound the monkey was making but the only thought going through my head was, "He's searching for some one". We started to walk down along the bridge to go film the spear and next thing I hear is Master Peng shouting, "Oi oooooooh!" while backing up. The other monkeys had arrived, a male, a few females, and some babies. What proceeded next was frantic backing up where I somehow got put in the front of everyone. …

September 18th - End of Another Week

Another Friday.This week has been a good week of solo training for many reasons. I've learned many moves for Da Hong Quan, started my side project, gained some weight, and kept posting to my various sites. Friday also means I'm steadily getting closer to leaving the Kung Fu School. After this place, its another stop to Shanghai where I will spend the holidays before heading home.The thought of leaving this place gives me a bitter-sweet feeling. I understand that it is my time to leave as I'm the last student here. The enjoyment that I get from such a simple life is just hard to leave. Training for most hours of the day, having food made for you, reading, learning, working on videos and more is just so free spirited. That's the "sweet" to bitter-sweet. The bitter is all the problems that I've talked about previously (and that the Cripple Crew would know) which are subject for my end of the year review on this place.On the subject of Shanghai, I really don&…

September 17th - Discipline

"So do not lose the courage that you had in the past. It has a great reward. You must hold on, so you can do what God wants and receive what he has promised." -Hebrews 10:35Wake up.Make a protein shake.Adorn myself in the clothes of a Shaolin Monk.Eat Breakfast.That is how my day begins. Routine is what helps me pass the time while the clothes motivate me. Even when I'm feeling down or unmotivated I still have more than four hours of my day planned. I don't feel any closer to "zen mastery" but I know my discipline is still here.I had a buddy contact me and asked if I ever felt demotivated or down. The conversation didn't go anywhere, it just made me realize the difference between him and I. What I told him was I use a combination of discipline and motivation to get me through obstacles. To that he replied, "Why not just take it easy?".Because taking it easy sucks. There is a time for relaxing and recovering, a time for "smelling the roses…

September 16th - Mental Break

"Therefore, put on every piece of God's armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm." -Ephesians 6:13Nothing changed.Yesterday was just hard for my mind. Master Bao was hungover so I practiced Jumps and Rolls on my own, trying to get more air for my cartwheel. The next class was me reviewing my rope dart as I had just watched a "rope dart motivation" video. The third and final class of the day I spent working on my cartwheel some more as I really want to be able to do an aerial before I leave. It sounds like I did a lot but to be honest, those 4ish hours of training were a mental slog. By the time Power Training arrived, I had burnt out my mental state. I decided to take a break for the rest of the day, skipping Power Training but not skipping Protein O'Clock. The Bible quote above is from this daily devotional that I have, looking back on yesterday's passage it makes me think …

September 11th - Recovery and Siji

My first week of one on one training is over. My right knee has been out of action all of today so I only attended morning Power Stretching. To my surprise, the class was lead by Coach Qi. He's one of the younger coaches that comes and goes. He's been doing martial arts for 11 years and is on his way to joining the military... just like the rest of the coaches that pass through here. "With events constantly changing around the world, one of the certainties we can hold onto is our daily routine. I encourage you to use your workout as your refuge. This simple action will improve your life and those around you." -Shi Yan LeiIn the morning I decided to do the rare activity of checking my email. In it was mostly garbage (though there was a nice update from my pal, Shaolin Smiddy) and a few martial art themed messages. Normally I would trash most of it but today I decided to open one and read it. What was inside didn't help me at al…

September 10th - Master Bao's Meditation

Studying with Master Bao has been a different experience, not because I'm the only student here, but because his ideas are slightly different to the other masters'. Today is Qi Gong day which means meditation and breathing exercises. The first thing he asked me was;
"What understanding do you have about meditation?"
I was surprised then thought for a moment. My understanding isn't that deep as I mostly use it to relax or sort through problems so I told him the two ideas that Master Peng and Master Ning have taught me. It's a way to clear your mind and a way to feel your surroundings.
Master Bao nodded thoughtfully and began to explain his idea of meditation which, due to my poor Chinese, can only translate to the best of my ability. Step One ~ Body and Mind The first step is the "basics" of meditation. Clearing your mind while relaxing your body. In the beginning, your mind will be confused and full of thoughts, instead of going from a lot to…

September 7th - New Master, New Style

“拳打千遍,其意自现”
Practice ten thousand times, the meaning will reveal itself.
This was a sentence that Master Bao wanted me to remember during Forms Class. That is how day one of Master Bao's training went, a lot of talking, a lot of basics, and a lot more corrections. The main correction was: relax. Punches. Stances. Jumps. Every single move I did had the same exact correction... relax. Also, my basics need work which isn't surprising since I've been hearing that since I have gotten here. So what needs work? That's what we spent a lot of time talking about.  There are many theories and common ideas in Chinese martial arts. One of them is the "Outside Circles/Connections" while the other is "Internal Circles/Connections". “手与足合,肩与胯合,肘与膝合。
心与意合,意与气合,气与力合” This idea is key to making your moves coordinated and balanced. It is also key for generating power (Called 发力 in Chinese). The power generated in our style of kung fu isn't raw muscle strength. Inste…