I have been meaning to write about my life as a part time low key killer but because of the schedule it comes with I just never seem to have time!
So just over a year ago I, together with 2 other Zambian male students joined the Hebei University martial arts club. Since the newbies join in autumn which quickly gives way to winter not many make it through the first 3 months, but somehow we stuck it out. It helped that there were 3 of us, we also made up 3 of the 4 foreigners that were in the club at that time. The 4th being a Sudanese student who joined a year before us. Although boys and girls are separated, knowing that they were on the other side of the field suffering too was enough motivation for me. I registered to train in Long fist/Changquan. The club also teaches Taichi/Taijiquan, Chop hanging fist/Piguaquan and eight-extremities fist/Bajiquan.
Looking back, it seemed so hard but it was probably just because we weren’t fit. The schedule was pretty tough but it has to be for a beginner otherwise there won’t be much progress. Every morning (except Saturday) we had a 1 hour training session, 3 days a week in the afternoon we had a 2 hour training session and every evening there’s an optional 1 hour evening training session. Each training session consists of jogging/sprinting, some strength exercises (e.g frog jumps, hops, push ups, jumping exercises etc), stretching and warm up exercises then we’d do some martial arts drills and learn a basic routine. Our first routine was 5 steps fist or Wubuquan. At the end of the semester we did a group test where we were graded by the head trainers of the club.
Semester 2 they kicked up the intensity a little, we ran faster and started doing the dreaded situi/leg stretch. You stand against a wall, one person sits with their back against one of your legs to prevent it bending while another lifts your free leg up as far as it can go without bending and without you crying (seriously, it makes people cry). The aim is to enable you to eventually be able to do a standing split. For semester 2 we learned 3 routines: 3 way fist, basic sword and basic sabre.
I also took part in my first martial arts competition towards the end of semester 2 in Beijing. The competition was specifically for foreigners and it was really eye opening to see how good foreigners can be at martial arts, just as good as Chinese people and sometimes better. That competition really gave me motivation and hope that I could be decent at this. I have since taken part in 3 more competitions, one that included Chinese people. On top of that I reluctantly took part in the summer group training which upon passing certified me to train other students this semester. I shall blog about those experiences soon.
Though I’m still not as flexible as some of my Chinese counterparts, I am not doing too bad. My main goal this coming semester is to improve my flexibility and stamina. To be honest martial arts has done more for my flexibility and fitness than yoga and the gym did which I did for almost 6 months when I first came to China. I think this is mainly because the training schedule is so strict, you can’t miss sessions at will. You are punished (with pushups or planking or frog jumps) for being late or for missing a training session you are meant to attend. Even though it has been tough, I have developed a love for the early mornings, the painful training sessions, martial arts in general and moreover I have made some good friends through the martial arts club. Undoubtedly one of the best aspects of my life in China!