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Entering the mothership

It seems fitting to start with the whole reason I’m here: the training!

We got up bright and early on our first morning here, so we could make it over to Shichahai for the a.m training session. We arrived on the campus with no real idea of what to expect, but I have to admit that, when we arrived at a small outdoor track, and they told us to run 10 laps as a warmup, I wasn’t the happiest camper. Running is one of those things I sometimes force myself to do because it’s good for me, but I *never* actually enjoy it. πŸ˜‰

I have to admit, the situation wasn’t as intimidating as it could’ve been, that first day: our group is all foreigners, so there are the 6 of us who came in from Portland; my homeboy Goo, whom I know from my UO Wushu days; Johnny, who’s originally from Iowa, but has lived in China for 15-or-so years, and another guy whose name I didn’t catch, largely because he’s Italian and doesn’t speak much English. There were more foreigners practicing separately from us–from the Israeli wushu team, according to one of their t-shirts–and a lot of people from all over come to this place to learn.

The actual practice session was, oddly enough, a lot like we trained at UO: basics, combos, and sections of your forms. But, of course we never had a China-trained instructor correcting our moves at UO. πŸ˜‰ The woman training us has been incredibly patient–one of the people from our group is 9 years old and only a blue belt, so we’re doing a lot of things he’s not familiar with, but she’s been cheerfully leading him through the new moves, with a little help and translation from us older kids.

The temperature here is well into the 90s and 100s, and in the wushu hall, it isn’t much cooler. You sweat buckets from start to finish, but your body feels amazingly loose and flexible… apparently, they purposely use less air conditioning because the warmer temperature *does* loosen you up. They have a system for all of this stuff: their gym is full of fancy conditioning equipment, there are rooms for all different types of training, and seeing the athletes from other disciplines as they wander the halls is pretty nuts. These people are ridiculously well-conditioned, and the sanda guys are just HUGE. (sanda = full-contact sparring) It’s a little strange how institutionalized sports are here.

I’m very tired and sore, but honestly, I’m loving it. Shockingly, I even got complimentedΒ once, on the loudness of my foot slaps during crescent kicks. (in wushu, loud = good) I was expecting comments more along the lines of, I don’t know, “lazy, slow, fat American,” maybe? Hahaha. I think that getting positive on my technique only served to make me more afraid of what lay ahead on the following day’s training: if they’re giving compliments to a weekend warrior like myself, they must be going easy. πŸ˜‰

2 Comments

  1. Can’t wait for more updates! (hey you’re a good writer, too πŸ™‚

    love,
    Nell

  2. Hey, I’ve got a blue belt!
    Too bad I missed you in China. I had to bounce to the UK the day you got there. How long are you training for?
    Say hi to master Yu for me :-p

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