This year was pretty different to the one man Shaolin Temple trip of last year. This year there was a whole squad going and we were all getting to Shaolin in different ways at different times. Me and my buddy Brian, who had come with me to China two years before, were meeting everyone in Shaolin. They had already been there a week training in a school down the road.
Me and Brian left Bristol, got two trains to Birmingham, flew to Dehli, then Shanghai, stayed a few nights in Shanghai, met up with friends and did some sightseeing. Then got the sleeper train to Zhengzhou and a two hour taxi to Shaolin. Phew!! Long Long journey.
I’d been put in charge of booking the hotel and had managed to book one that smelt of sewage, so we moved the same day in the pouring rain and got a much nicer smelling one across the road in Wangzhigo. All settled in we were ready for a week of Kung Fu, but it didn’t quite go to plan.
Two of our group got lessons with a young monk who taught them spear and sword, good result. Neil, our Bristol Kung Fu teacher, got a week with the top guy in the Temple, Shi Yan Zhuang, learning Rou Quan, good result. Me, Brian and Bert got nothing.
As my back is a bit dodgy I can’t do the super fast, super high energy forms with a million flippies. I wanted something slower and more traditional. Brian and Bert wanted the same but unfortunately they had no one there to teach us, so we were left for a week in the Shaolin Temple with no teacher. It was pretty depressing. We spent our days looking around the Shaolin area, visiting the temples, training Kung Fu by ourselves on the platforms and I had plenty of time to buy more stock for the shop in England. As a little ray of hope for future visits, the foreign fixer guy called Mr Wang promised I could train with Shi Yan Ao next time I visited. Perfect, this would be a result as he is the guy who’s style I like the most in the Temple. Soft, slow and back safe. Finger crossed for next time.
After Shaolin we all hopped on a train to Chengdu, we split into Team Panda and Team Big Buddha. Leshan, where the Big Buddha lives, is amazing! Too many great things to mention and much much more than the amazing Big Buddha. Get there if you have a chance.
The day after we headed off to Emei Shan, me and my buddy Pete, who met us in Chengdu, wanted to hike from bottom to top but everyone else bailed as their knees were wrecked from two weeks of Shaolin Kung Fu. They looked round the town for any remnants of martial arts, especially Ba Gua, which it is famous for. Unfortunately it’s all gone, nothing left at all. We hiked for two days!! Brutal Brutal climb, so many stairs and so many valleys. Apparently we hiked the same amount as half of an Everest climb. We got to the top on the second day and it was super cloudy!!! This trip was throwing all the bad luck our way. We looked around, sat down for quite a while and then got the bus back down. Exhausted but happy, all in all a good Shaolin Temple Trip, really nice to be with the whole gang but hopefully better Kung Fu next time round.