This post was originally published on Kungfu Commute, Gregs own Blog where he writes about his life and training in Maling Shan Shaolin Kungfu School.
Short Introduction: Greg is a former student staying at Maling Shan Kungfu School from Winter 2016 untill September 2016. He is originally from the UK and studied under Master Wei, Master Du and Master Wang.
January 8th, 2016
Got in 12 at night in the freezing cold. Met my roomie Brage (pronounced Braggie…and who I now call Bragz) who is from Norway. Then he asked if I planned to starting training in the morning?…my reply was damn right!
5:30 soon came upon me and I was awakened by the sound of a rooster cock-a-doodle-doing! I didn’t think that actually happened.
Each morning starts the same with the optional class of Tai Chi. My idea at the moment is to just go head first into everything. Tai Chi is focused on slow, controlled movements so Bragz took me through some basics before the headmaster himself (Master Bao) showed me the first movements. It killed my calves! Slow control in this relaxing form really took me a lot of concentration, I’m hoping this gets easier with time.
After an hour we got breakfast which is some sweet bread rolls and some boiled eggs. The boys had some peanut butter, jam and stuff to jazz it up…but being new I haven’t had the chance to buy some little extras. I wasn’t that hungry, think nerves of getting into training overtook the hunger.
Next class was Shaolin Dynamic Qi Gong/Meditation. Before every class we line up and bow to the masters. As the newbie I had to go and bow to each of the masters and introduce myself to the other students. Class started and before meditation a quick warm up of 50 pushups, 30 squats and a 2km run with Morten and Mattias (Denmark’s answer to Ant & Dec). I was outside with Bragz for meditation run by Master Wei, and this is one of the main reasons I came here. Can learning breathing techniques really help clear MY mind? The answer, so far, is yes. It took a lot of concentration this time learning and remembering the different breathing pathways, but the hour flew by and this type of quiet time is what I needed. At one point Master Wei had us standing on some red poles about 1.5 metres from the ground then said to close our eyes…honestly nearly plunged right off! Meditating with my eyes closed standing on red poles, didn’t sound like the most ideal situation..alas my balance was cool and completed that task.
Then came a class I was NOT, I repeat, WAS NOT looking forward to – Conditioning. This was an hour of hitting the wall with my palms, knuckles, head, knees, and getting hit repeatedly in the arms, back, torso, legs…all to increase my resistance to being hit and make the skin and bones stronger. THE worst one was hitting my legs with a steel pipe then rolling it down the shins. My lord that was terrible.
I was called to headmaster Bao’s office at lunch. Walked in…he was sitting behind a mahhhooosive desk, like you could have had a board meeting around it. Quite intimidating, but I am assured he is so nice. When I was in there it felt like I was in trouble in school, but it was just to discuss Visa shit, academy fees and offer a personal welcome to my new home, which was a lovely touch.
So I thought body conditioning was going to be the worst…then Power Training came along. 50 pushups, 50 squats and a 4km run to start. Then we were paired off and had to do this circuit 5 times – 10 pull-ups, 10 squats with 15kg barbell (with actual stones as the weights), 20 mountain climbers, jump across 5 metres, 9 circle hand pushups, 30 tricep dips. It was hell! On my 4th circuit at the pushups I screamed and shouted to the master “Master Wei, kill me”. His calm response of “it is not time yet” was both hilarious…and chilling! I thought that was the end, but no no! We then had to do a total of 200 sit-ups (in different variations) 100 side-ups and 100 back-ups. So this was by far the hardest training session I have ever done…like ever!
We finish quite early on a Thursday so the boys mentioned they were heading to the local town after training called ‘Wing Shun’, which was great for me since I needed to get a few supplies. Jumped in a taxi (that we crammed all 8 of us in) and took like 15 mins to get there. We ate at a Chinese stall shop, got a bowl of noodles with spicy chicken and some omelette thing for 10CNY, that’s £1. One-fucking-pound! Canadian Tom summarised this place well when he said “man, I just don’t see how they are making money?!” Got a few things like toilette roll and shampoo etc. from the supermarket and headed home where I needed my bed so badly at this point… exhausted!
And all that…was just day 1.
(All pictures taken and owned by Gregory Nichols – and like I already mentioned before you can read much more about life in Maling Shan at his personal Blog: Kungfu Commute)