Shaolin Kung Fu/Tai Chi/Sanda Training in China
Shaolin Kung Fu Training in China
At the morning training from 05:45 o'clock to 07:30 o'clock mainly condition and high-speed strength are trained. First the musculature is warmed up by running. It is already an overwhelming picture if 15,000 pupils run in military formations through Shaolin. With a lot of middle sprints the high-speed strength is trained. While the foreigners run as fast as they can (and I can ensure you that we ran (like hell) on 100 m under 12 s!), but the coach runs with a long stick at your side smiling and spurs you on running much more faster and hitting your back too, if ones moves are too slowy (according to his opinion). A popular goal are the stairs to the Bodhidharma Cave consisting of 1000 stairs!!
The Shaolin monks run this distance each morning and their condition is gigantic. But only few stages are necessary to get the pupils sweating. Short sprints over 10 m stairs, limping on the left, right and both legs absolutely hard. Downwards every pupil must make press-ups, so the arms are trained too. After 1 3/4 h the training is over. The musculature is tired, arms and legs very heavy.
Now it is breakfast time and a lot of restaurants invite you for eating breakfast. This consists usually of Dou Fu Noir (Soybean), Ba Bao Jou (8 precious objects soup) and Yao Tiao (deep-fry paste). Also noodles and rice are eaten at breakfast. It is likely that the Chinese sip their soup and noodles and you have to do the same.
After breakfast: training
After short recovery the next training begins at 09:00 o'clock with a loose jogging, warming up and the high-speed strength training. But now primarily the stretching is being trained.
In contrast to German training the stretch is being trained not until pain arises, but far beyond pain. A popular exercise is the doing the split. The pupil is lying on his back and 2 other students hold his arms and legs and the coaches pushes with his whole body, in order to press the student doing the split (I could hardly move the next several days). According to this, there are a lot of such exercises. Another exercise consists of a student sitting down, pressing his sole in front of him together. A lot of people have some problems therefore another person stands on his knees and presses those down to the ground by his body weight. Everyone of us had to makeo the crab. This is very painful for untrained persons but in Shaolin the coach lifts you up and shakes your body... every pupil will have to cry out louldy and some days later you will have enormous back pain (but it seems to work). Arms, legs and all other muscles (which you did not know before) are stretched. Afterwards the basic elements of the Shaolin Kung Fu are taught: Leg movements, blocking, striking, stands. This part differs not too much from our well-known training, however the repetition rate is much higher. Because the students repeat the same techniques again and again and again and so highest perfection is obtained. Training ends at 11:30 o'clock.
In one of the numerous restaurants or in the school it is possible to eat. There are numerous dishes but no menu. Thus you go into the kitchen, show something you like and the cook prepares a tasty, warm meal. Rice and noodles are the most important (and most inexpensive) food. Meat is expensive and you can one only dream of a steak. Rather the meat is cut into small pieces and mixed to the vegetables. Preferably tomatoes, potatoes and different vegetables are used. By the way there is no chance to order coffee or chocolate.
After noon we have some time to recover the maltreated body. On one of the numerous stone banks we can watch a lot of Chinese, but there is no time for relaxing. You are mostly surrounded by a cluster of Chinese and they want to talk to you or take some pcitures. If you want to rest this is not the place. In the school, on the road, even in the mountains there are Chinese looking for contact with foreigners.
At 2:00 pm in the afternoon training begins again. This training is the most interesting one because new forms and weapons will be taught now. But also this training begins with a warming up training, with stretching and with basic techniques. These basic techniques are absolute necessary. The first form (every student has to learn this) in Shaolin is the Wu Bu Quan. This form consists of five different basic stands and is relatively simple to learn. With each form new stands, techniques and also acrobatic elements are inserted. The advanced Shaolin student learns the somersault forwards and backwards, the flic flac, the jumped cartwheel and a lot of other jumped techniques. The jump strength of the Chinese is gigantic and somersault appears for the audience as very simple (but I tell you, it isn't acutally!).
Due to their bodies foreigners have bigger problems learning these techniques.
Usually weapon training starts with long stick (gun) and followed by sword (dao). The mobile weapons are more difficult to learn and therefore they are taught to the older students. Mobile weapons are the 9-section whip (jiu jie bian), the three-section-stick (san jie gun), the two-section-stick (liang jie gun) and the whip (bian). Those weapons combined with fantastic acrobatic elements constitute the fascination of the Shaolin Kung Fu. Training ends at 6:00 pm.
End of training
After a arduous day it is worth to wash oneself for the first time.
Most schools do not have their own showers and so once a week they visit an external wash and shower room. It sounds awful but after a short time it doesn't matter. The dinner is the same like lunch. At 9:30 pm most of the students fall tired into bed because next morning the siren will sound again at 05:30 am.
If you are interested in shaolin kung fu/tai chi/sanda training in china (or learning chinese language in china), please take a look at www.shaolin-wushu.de