So my buddy Bert had booked his flights to China to train at Master Hu’s Shaolin Xiyiba school in Dengfeng (near Shaolin Temple). My UK Kung Fu teacher and one of our classmates had booked their flights for a week training in the Shaolin Temple and I was having a dilemma. The last trip had been amazing, training with one of the top guys inside the Shaolin Temple. Learning a style of Shaolin Kung Fu I could physically do and in the short time there having a good relationship with Shi Yan Ao. I had been generally feeling quite content with how the future looked for my Kung Fu journey.
However, it had all gone a bit belly up. I had been chatting with Shi Yan Ao and a week training was going to cost more than last year, it had reached a point where it was unaffordable for me. There can be a debate either way, as to whether it is worth it or not, but for me it was simply beyond my financial capacity. There was some other thing that had popped up in conversation, that rang a few alarm bells, but I’ll leave them for another time, that’s a whole story in itself. I was gutted! As soon as I had found a road I was happy with, it had gone. Neil was trying to convince me to go anyway and hang out in the temple regardless of training, but I had done this a few times already and wanted Kung Fu. It wasn’t really a viable option.
My Buddy Bert was was in Master Hu’s school down the road suggested I go there. He had taken a student with him who was leaving about the time I would be arriving so there was space, time and I’d keep him company. The trouble is I didn’t know much about the school or their specific Shaolin Xinyiba style. What I had seen on Youtube had all looked a bit to full on for me, lots of Wushu, Sanda and nothing much slow and chilled. However, without doing a whole load of research, chatting to people, maybe visiting a load of schools, it was that or nothing. Basically, that or give up the idea of training in Shaolin again and finding a new school somewhere else or a new style altogether, Tai Chi maybe. One last ditch attempt.
I packed my bags, got the flight, and met Bert at the airport with a super happy taxi man. I’ll try and use him again. The school was a breath of fresh air, super clean, really good, healthy hearty food and everyone seemed pretty nice and relaxed. Master Hu came out to teach us on the first session and we started don some walking drills, my favourite. I could do this all day!! and did.
One the first evening straight after training, we had a knock at the door and were ushered outside, lots of people were out and we hung around for a bit. After a short while two monks walked up to us with Master Hu. Bert and Tasia (who was training there too) we told to show the monks their forms, they did them, they looked good and then they pointed at me. My turn. “But I only arrived today” I said ” I haven’t got anything to show you” “Ah!” said one of the monks “but you have done Kung Fu before, no. Can we see that” No chance I’m not walking into a school and on the first day busting out a form from a different school. “Sorry, no” Better to annoy the visiting monks that insult everyone with a) my terrible Kung Fu and b) a form from a different school that they don’t do. I’d look like a right plum. Ha Ha.
Anyway, after that the demo team from the school all did a form each, that was pretty good to watch. All mega fast of course but not too much mental kicks or flippies or throwing yourself on the ground. So still pretty traditional. Nice! After the demos we, as in Me, Bert and Tasia, got ushered into Master Hu’s office to drink tea with the monks. One was from Sri Lanka and had amazing English. It was super interesting chatting to him about why he was in China (looking for schools to connect with to spread Buddhism) and what he thought about practicing Kung Fu. We chatted for a good few hours and drank far too much tea. Great experience.
The rest of the week was a pretty much governed by Kung Fu, sleeping and eating. We’d get up early and go for a walk / run up the hill, not part of the lessons just for fun. Eat, then start the Kung Fu with a 2 hour (isn) session, relax, eat, maybe quick sleep then into the 3 hour session in the afternoon. It was pretty no eventful! Lots of Kung Fu, super simple week with little to think or do except Kung Fu. Heaven.
On the final day we got the bus down to the Shaolin Temple to visit Neil and Owen. They had been training for a week and were soon of to Chenjiagou for Tai Chi. Shi Yan Ao, it turns out, hadn’t even been in the Temple that week. So, I wouldn’t have even got to train with him anyway. Crazy! It was super nice to meet up with everyone and had a bit of a squad hanging out in Wangzhigo for a few hours. Neil had been learning XiaoHongQuan with an old master from Dengfeng and Owen had been learning Monkey Pole. They were super happy with their training.
That was basically the end of the week. Bert was leaving the day after me and was vision me in Malaysia for a few weeks. Heat, food, pool, let’s go!!!!!