Training in a Chinese Wushu School
I’ve trained 8 month in China, 5 days a week and 6 hours daily and I am going back for more, even when I felt like never ever doing sport in my life again after my first week of training.
(If you are wondering what exactly Wushu is click here and if you want to know the differences to other Martial arts you have to click here)
So let me tell you in detail how I got the worst ever muscle ache… Enjoy my pain xD
First some Information about the school
I arrived at Qufu train station and got picked up by Joy, one of the translators and the wife of the schools master. Qufu is pretty much in between Shanghai and Beijing and is in a quite rural area (every city without a Starbucks is a village 😉 Qufu still was bigger than f.e. Stuttgart xD)
The school itself was rather run-down, but still ok, just a bit dirty. But I didn´t expect anything else, so I wasn’t too bothered.(They have a new building now, which is a lot prettier and cleaner)
All in all the beds where no more than a wooden base, with a super thin mattress, not more than a styrofoam slap covered with padded fabric. There were three beds in one room, but just one was occupied in the moment. So I picked the one next to the door. The room itself was, well, sparse. The walls were concrete, no wall paint or anything, there were just the beds inside and three closets and two desks and the floor was concrete too. At least the room was quite big, but comfy is different.
The new school is really pretty and just two people per room =)
I was literally sitting an hour in this room doubting if I would be able to survive the winter time there. My roommate was running around somewhere, and I was slightly overwhelmed, before I finally dared to leave the room.
I met a couple of people outside and went to dinner. The food at the school was quite good. Simple and a bit too salty, but with a lot of rice, so at least nobody would be starving. We didn’t get much meat, but the veggies were yummy. The first week I was in heaven,as I am loving the chinese cuisine, after a couple of month it became a tad boring, because it were always the same old dishes.
The school itself was surrounded by fields and far away from the city, you had to take a bus to get into the city center, so there was no chance to actually go out under the week. But the people I met showed me a little shop, where we could get the most essential things. It was a tiny, rundown shop, 10 minutes away from the school, thus it got called the 10 minutes shop.
Being smart I got myself a huge bottle of coke, knowing I would be in desperate need for sugar after training 😉
Training Day by Day +Weekend Stories 😉
On monday my training started. I woke up around 5.45 which made me really happy, hoping I would be able to get up this early for the rest of my stay, which didn’t really work to well, just the first month 😉
But now to my first training session. We were divided into groups up to 15 people. Next to me there were two more beginners. In the first class, which was Basics, our teacher showed us the basic punches and kicks after a good warmup (I hate running xD)
The class went for 1.30h and after this I felt tired but still ok. We had a short break before the second class started, which was Forms. Each student was learning a different form, depending on their level. My two companions and I learned the most basic form, the 5-Step, for another hour.
After this I was really tired. I know it was “just” 2.5 hours, but for me I could have stopped and skipped afternoon practise.
We had a 3 hours lunch break and from day one I was taking a nap during this time, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to survive the training.
My afternoon class was Sanda, which is Chinese Kickboxing. Again we learned the basics, separate from the other students after two laps of running around the huge pond for warm-up.
At some point I must have been too motivated because I overstretched and wasn’t even able to lift my leg anymore.
Maybe I was simply to tired to move any more xD
I skipped the evening classes, for the first week, which were Wudang classes, which are very soft and flowing movements and quite relaxing, but I was done for after training for 4.5 hours.
Instead I was hanging out with some of the other students, they were from every corner of the world, which I love at these schools for foreigners. I’ve met some great people there =).
But even though the people were great, the showers were not. Instead of a nice water stream, it was rather dripping along, so you can imagine how long it was taking to actually wash my curly hair xD
Bed time was at 10 o’clock…at least that’s the time we were supposed to be in our rooms. Yeap Curfew =D.
Tuesday started a bit easier. I had Wing Chun in the morning, which is quite relaxing because we were mostly practising the stances and basic movements, but the next class was Jumps&Rolls. Learning handstand and cartwheel was never really my thing, I know why I tried to skip every Gymnastic class I ever had in school. To put it simple I really sucked at Jumps&Rolls.
In the afternoon we had Sanda Take-Downs and because there were not that many girls, I practised with a guy. On one hand this was a good thing, didn’t have to be considerate, on the other a bad thing, they were not considerate either. Takedowns means you try to catch the others persons leg when they kick and throw them on the ground. After that we had to do Sit-Ups, which killed me. 100 front, 100 back and 50 on each side…yeah well I think I managed 5 of side ones -.-
In the evening I watched a movie with two other students, which became on of my favorite evening activities, either alone or with other people. Just relaxing and not doing anything anymore.
Wednesday I wasn’t able to get up anymore, I had to roll onto the side to push myself up with the help of my arms. My neck was stiff from the Takedowns and Rolls and the rest of my body was in pain, this is when my worst ever Muscle Ache started.
In morning training I also managed to hurt myself the first time of many more to follow, while training Tai Chi. Which is kind of pathetic. All fine with running and kicking and when I had to move slow and relax my kneecap jumped against my ligaments. Yeah me -.-
The rest was pretty much the same then on Monday. First Basics with those lovely kicks and jumps and punches, while my whole body was screaming for me to sit down and stop training, which I didn’t and that makes me kinda proud ;). Next up was a Forms, and more of the 5-step, the very short basic form ( to explain it: a form is a series of basic movements, one after another, like a choreography or well basically it is a Kata).
In the afternoon we had Sanda again and wow, was I proud to hold the pad the first time:
When we had Sanda I even was allowed to hold the what-ever-you-call-the-things-you-hit-on-in-English, and I swear I had the feelings my arms would fall of, but I didn´t knock myself out while holding them, so I am quite proud of myself.(out of my personal diary)
In the evening I still felt better than in the morning, but in wise foresight I applied Tiger Balm. ( Great stuff, the one with menthol cooled my muscles so much that I actually started freezing)
Thursday: Luckily I applied the balm. I didn’t even want to wake up the next morning. I still wasn’t able to get up from the bed as usual, but now I also wasn’t able to walk stairs anymore if they were to high. Instead of walking up the stairs I had to crawl them up with the help of my hands or I sat down and pushed my butt up, stair for stair.
Luckily Thursdays were a lot more relaxed. The first class was just some light jogging and later QiGong and Meditations. Yeah, 1.30 hours relaxing =D We learned the first parts of the 8Brokade exercise and could later sit down and meditate for ourselves.
The second class was Conditioning, which meant hitting trees and kicking each other, to harden the muscles and bones, the elbows, the head, every part of our body xD. I did get some lovely colourful bruises, but at least I didn’t have to move much for them =D
Afterwards I had my first room check. We had the teacher checking if everything was nice and tidy. So twice a week I had to clean everything, otherwise you would get penalties like cleaning the bathroom or doing planks for 5 minutes. But the plank was mostly saved for people coming back past curfew on the weekend.
No kidding even on the weekend we had a curfew, also 10 o’clock. So my mother had no need to worry about me wandering around at night in China. I could have, but I really didn’t want to do the penalty workout =)
Back to training. In the afternoon we had Power training. This sounded horrible terrifying but I actually quite liked it. It was mostly strength exercises, like doing squats with another person on your back, planks, lifting weights, sprints, handstand, frog walk, crawling down stairs with our hands first ect. Because I was just a beginner (and a girl) the teacher went quite easy on me, so I was alright. Let’s just say I survived 😛
Friday my muscle ache was still pretty much the same, but now other parts where hurting from Thursdays Power Training.
In the morning we had first forms training and afterwards power stretching, which became my love-hate class.
When we were stretching alone it was alright, but when our teacher decided to “help” it was pure pain. F.e. you had to go into the front split position, one person was holding your front leg straight, one your back leg and the teacher was pressing down your hips and keeping your upper body straight. I’ve seen strong man cry at this exercise and I often was short before crying myself.
But if you are now wondering, nobody actually overstretched or tore anything, the teacher knew pretty well how far he could push us.
Later in the afternoon was free practice, everybody trained what ever he liked, meaning most of us where sitting together gossiping.
When the whistle came, telling us class was over, there was a run for the showers, as anybody wanted to get into the city as fast as possible
The showers were for man and woman. Don’t worry there were single cabins which could be locked, so there was enough privacy. Just some of the guys there needed ages to finish up and with just 3 showers for about 40 students, you can imagine how long we had to wait in line.
After that most students went into town. I had a walk around with some of them and went to a good dumpling place and I found the street food.
Basically typical street food, like caramel apples(small ones), squid, chicken on stick, bugs and so on 😛 They had dog too :/ Not so sure what to think about it, but I don´t think I will try it, that´s just wrong somehow. No cat and dog for me. I stick with my squids, which were delicious and I actually tried bugs. A friend got them, so we all tried and the taste really wasn’t bad, but the shell kind of sticks in between your teeth which is really yuck.
We went back to the Hostel, were we usually were hanging out on the weekends. Free Internet and we can buy drinks or food there. Especially if any of us where in the mood for western food.
The only stupid thing was, that the Internet was really slow and I couldn’t use my VPN properly, because the connection would break down all the time, so no Facebook for me, the big firewall was not allowing it.
This evening everybody had a good time drinking in the Hostel xD I just had a beer, keeping it easy the first week ;).
We got back at 10 which was our curfew and somebody had the idea to go to the training hall, well let´s say the party kept going, with music, drinks and dancing.It was alright, but I wasn’t really a part of the group yet, as I was just one of the “newbies”, so I didn’t stay too long and went to bed =)
WEEKEND: The weekends were for us to recover from training and they were the only time we could go out without asking for a special permission from our teachers. We for sure did relax, but imagine having lots of young adults together at one place, yes we also did party quite a lot.
Saturday we left the school during afternoon. There was the option to take the Bus or to order a Taxi (Taxis are fairly cheap in China, we usually split the bill and took the more comfy way). In town we went to a supermarket and I got myself some sweets, salt, fruits and tea. Just the basics to make myself feel more at home and to add some variety to the food. In the evening we went to eat at a HotPot place. This is my most favorite way to eat ever, in Germany I even have a small HotPot myself.I love it =D
And the place we went to was really cute. Everybody had their own mini hotpot and there was a train driving on top of the bar-like table and pulling the different ingredients. Ohh and the most funny thing was that it was a German Train, the red one with the DB sign 😀
So we all ate loads and it was really good, also because it was all-you-can-drink too, so figure, I had three beer 😉 All in all we paid 39 Yuan which I think is pretty much nothing for an all you can eat/drink buffet.
After that we went to the KTV whatsoever, which is a Karaoke place and I am loving Karaoke. You book your own room and because we were such a big room we had one with a small stage and a pole (what do you need a pole for when singing???!). In the end my voice was hoarse from singing so much, so loud and sooooooo wrong =D.
Sunday I went into town again, because I wanted to Skype and to get some more stuff, like a mirror and a bowl and spoon.
Lastly I went to the Bank, to withdraw the rest of the money. This was the day I paid for the next 8 months. From there on I was stuck in this school =D ( I think I just decided to stay because my muscle ache wasn’t as bad anymore 😉 …)
Besides that I bought my first and only coffee in Qufu, while it was big, it tasted like water, basically not good at all. From that day on I had to buy instant coffee to get my daily caffeine fix 😉
Later in the evening me and Jasmine, a girl from Switzerland, decided to do a girls night. We got us some cucumber and put on a chocolate mask and watched Wild Child on my laptop.
So that was my first weekend in a Chinese Kungfu School, quite fun I would say 😉
The weekends were usually the total opposite of the week days. Under the week we trained untill we were close to breaking down and then on the weekend we relaxed and had a couple of really good parties 😉 Somehow we just had to keep a balance.
After the weekend my muscle ache luckily got a lot better, but not for long. The whole first month I was constantly in pain. Afterwards I was still getting sore now and then, but my muscles got used to it and recovered much faster and the pain was less intense. But even after 8 month I still was getting sore, because the better you get, the more difficult the training becomes.
If you survive the first week without a mucle ache you definitly haven’t been training right 😉
If you are now considering to maybe train in China yourself or if you are not sure if this is the right thing for you to do, I made a post with some pros/cons of training in a Chinese Wushu School.
If you have any questions concerning the training or school, feel free to contact me.
There will be more post to come where I will go more into detail with the training, so stay tuned and have a lovely day =)