March 6th - Breaking Bricks, the Splits, and Village Shrines

(Left to Right, Up to Down) 佑岁岁五谷丰登,保年年风调雨顺  "Bless this year's harvest to be abundant, Keep every year's weather good for the crops."

Evening Thoughts

Wow, another week down on this amazing Kung Fu Journey that I'm on. I'm feeling that this is one of the "highs" to the highs and lows that happen throughout life so I'm enjoying the good progress and good feeling that I have now. I've made some progress with my form, flexibility and pushed myself really hard during the various power trainings that we have done. I've even gone the "extra mile" to review what I've learned or to stretch for an hour before heading to bed.

It sounds like all I do is train, and that is partly true, I do find time to rest and relax along with pursuing other interests like studying Chinese, writing my blog, writing in my journal, making small progress videos, studying programming and/or making things for Instagram (though the bad internet has made it very hard to post things as of late).

It really is an interesting life that I'm living right now, it is simple, it is fun, and I'm happy. Because at the end of the day even if I can't do a back flip, I still haven't done the splits, my kicks are bad, I don't use my hips enough, my "rhythm" for a form isn't right, all of this is just a part of the Journey. I'm learning Kung Fu for Pete's sake which is way better than stressing over school, stressing over work, or stressing about something more serious in life. So, I'd like to say thank you to all of those I met leading up to me getting here as knowing and interacting with you all has helped me stay focused towards my goal. You guys may not realize it but you all gave me some great advice that is still in my head today.

Now its time to talk about what my past couple days have been filled with.

Thursday was a tough day of training. Thursdays always are. We started off reviewing our different Qi Gong exercises, which is a combination of breathing and stretching that prepares us for our Conditioning Class. Then we began to condition our palms, forearms, fingers and body in various ways. The usual hitting a bag, kicking or punching each other but... Master Yan had a different plan today. The weather was good so he showed us how easy it was to break a brick in different ways; with a chop, punch and palm strike. He so effortlessly smashed through many of them which then peeked all of our curiosities. Soon, everyone was trying and some students actually did it and could do it many times too. Me, not so much. I tried to chop it but to no avail and then Master Yan told me to punch it. So, taking some deep breaths, I did and the brick didn't break but the ground under the brick shattered which was still pretty cool. That was followed up by Master Yan punching my brick three times in order to break it; but he still broke it. What I noticed though was my hands didn't hurt from my attempts at brick breaking so our conditioning on the bags has to be doing something to my hands. Hopefully a good something. Master Yan told me two things that I need to do in order to break the brick: 1) Don't fear the brick and 2) Be faster, not stronger.

My Low Stance

Today, was a more relaxing day of training. The morning was filled with a refreshing 2 km run which led into power stretching. I still don't like power stretching as it always makes me feel "bad" or "torn" but I was able to do stretching of my own for a half an hour. I felt some progress in my side split but I felt the most progress with my stances. My Horse Stance (马步) and Low Stance (仆步) are a little lower than before. The next class was forms class where I helped Josh learn the Basic Long Fist form and reviewed my Shaolin Tong Bei Quan (少林通背拳) and Basic Long Fist Form (初级长拳三路). I was really tired after forms class and decided to rest after eating lunch because I knew what was coming after lunch, stamina training. Every Friday we are supposed to run 10 km but recently most of us have been injured so I was the only one who attempted to run the 10 km but I only ran 8 km before my stomach became upset.

Once the dreadful 8 km run was over me and some other students went over to the local village to buy some things. I was able to purchase a wide variety of snacks like sesame snacks, fruit, milk, corn sausages, and some other small snacks. The local village is a nice place to be as sometimes I feel like I'm back in small town Missouri or something because of all the farmlands, nice weather, and small houses. Then, I'd see some Chinese writing or something very Chinese that makes me realize where I am. It doesn't take long to see these Chinese things too. It is a nice experience but it really does make me grateful for my real home as some of these villagers live in really rough living conditions or have really rough jobs.

Then the evening came, a delicious dinner was eaten and soon cards were on the table. Another evening of playing cards with the other Kung Fu students. It is a good way to unwind and really let our bodies and minds relax.

It was a good week and I hope to have a good weekend but man am I sore and exausted from all the training that I did this week.

What are your plans for this weekend?

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