PART243 swelling

Tuesday, 28th, September, 2010. The alarm woke me in the dark morning and I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth. My body was tired and aching because yesterday was quite a rigorous day of training. Sonic tooth brushing away I looked as my dim reflex ion in the mirror and was pleased to see that my left arm was looking pretty beefy, in fact very beef indeed. I flexed it and it stung slightly, it felt so big that I could not even bend it to a proper flex. I noticed it was a bit shiny and red as well. I compared it to my right arm and it was much bigger than the right. I t must have swollen but I could not understand why, I then noticed that my right shoulder was bulging up. With my awakening eyes I saw that I was lop sided with a shiny taught shiny bicep, like a balloon filled with too much air and a hunch back like right shoulder. It didn’t really affect my training but when I got back home my arm had ceased up and was now frozen and unable to bend. I felt retched. Bad knees, bad arm and shoulder what the hell was going on? I managed to drag myself to the park in the evening to do some Taiji, carful to dress up warm. I have set myself a goal to remember all my weapons forms again and also learn from an online video the Xin jia yi lu form over the next week. After a bit of slow and relaxed training where an old man came and watched me train and I felt pretty at piece and not auquard


I sat at a small outside noodles stall and drank the hot soup and noodles. An older couple came and sat at the stall as well and the man, a tall pock marked thin faced man started speaking English with me. He was a middle school teacher in Xin zhuo. His English was very good and he told me about when he used to live and work in Sichuan province. “Our school had exchange programs and we got a teacher from Switzerland, He was very young, only 20. All the teachers went out for a meal and we drank a lot of bie jiu, the boy from Switzerland got too drunk and he had found out that day that his grandmother had just died, “I want to kill myself” he screamed when we got back to the flat and he almost jumped out of his 4th floor window but we stopped him. The next day I got a text from him saying, Chinese alcohol is too strong”.

We both laughed at this and I wondered how many people have underestimated how strong or how much they have drunk and have suffered fatally for it either through alcohol poisoning or just doing something stupid. It was getting much colder and the tarpaulin make shift roof was doing nothing to abate the rising dust storm whipping around me. I bade them farewell and went back home to sleep.


PART242 waist coats and head stands

Monday, September 27, 2010. I didn’t sleep a wink last night and then my alarm went off, I turned it off thinking it would be a waste to go to school as I was unrested, to my surprise I watched me self get out of bed and get my clothes on, Some inspirational demon had flew in my nose hole and was pulling the strings. I watched as I walked to school and absolutely tore the training session to shreds with enthusiasm. Imagine at 6 in the morning as a huge deep red sun rises behind the running track seating stands bathing everything in magic light, imagine hundreds of Chinese students heads down half asleep jog trudging in military unison like a great single machine and then imagine a long legged red faced westerner with head wipe lashed back from sheer unthinkable speed looking at the fading stars disappearing in the milky dawn, over taking these poor morning unappreciating fiends.

Don’t even get me started on the basic exercises I was on fire and was feverishly and unceasingly trying to put myself out by twizling and squatting and jumping back up again in all the leg strengthening moves, I wondered if our undercover spy Catzu! had slipped some ancient Japanese zing zang into my water this morning. Alas the brightness of whatever I was possessed with be it the zing or the zang was short lived and as I sojourned home my true tiredness paid an unwelcome visit. Bie Hong rong trotted up behind me as I was making my way home, diablo in one hand a large bag slung on the other shoulder. “Where where you yesterday? I brought you a moon cake but you where not here”, she asked earnestly, I regaled my story about my dickey knees and she umed sympathetically. Then she got out her English text book and asked me how to pronounce some of the words. I am always very surprised and hold a lot of admiration for Chinese student who have the courage to walk up to a total stranger and a foreigner for that matter and begin forming a relationship and trying to learn English, It’s incredibly brave! I am afraid my festivals (testacies) aren’t quite big enough to do such things, the mere thought of approaching a strange Chinese person and whipping out a Mandarin text book and asking which tone this particular character has sends me dashing to the loo with fear. Our short 10ish minute walk home covered two pages of well spaced out words and I even learn some Mandarin as well “See you tomorrow” I said. “WATCH OUT, BE CARFULL THERE IS A CAR” she cried suddenly. I had stepped out into the road and a car was screeching round the bend rather uncontrollably and was heading dangerously close to me. I hopped back up on the curb and waved away her worries and then set out again with more caution.

I stayed awake all morning and only succumbed to sleep when I was reclined on the bed reading and the warm sunshine made me drowsy, it’s a killer. I woke up again at 2:30 and almost didn’t get up but I did and arrived at school to find the place littered with new wrestling waist coats. Up until now I have only been doing the bare chested wrestling and now it would seem we where starting the wrestling more like judo with thick sleeveless jackets. It’s a completely different game and one I don’t know very well but I can tell I will like it a lot. It’s more advanced as there are more throws involved. After a dozen throws of which I sailed over my opponent back over his head and then landed smack on my back I realized that a lot of the waist coat throws are much more areal and therefore more impactful than what I was previously used to. You see when you have something substantial to grab on to like a thick waist coat then you have far more grip and pull to send you opponent flying around the place. There was one particularly hard throw to execute where you reel them in towards you until they are staggering into your throwing area then you yank down on their coat and then yank up, you twirl on your feet balls and in a snap second are now bum to groin with your opponent and then you sort of flick him over you back and it had the incredible effect of sending them arching over your body and being deposited with a loud satisfying smack in front of you. I had a wrestle with an older wrestler who was pretty strong and my long arms came in handy and I managed to slam him on the floor a few time with brute force. It you cannot execute the feet ball bum to groin over the head throw then just grab both shoulders and push back sharply then pull forward even sharper and hopefully if your brutish enough( and I was barbaric!) then you opponent will find himself on sore knees and hand before you.

As we were all warming down and I was inspecting the bruises under my finger nails from all the grabbing I had an urge to try a head stand and I bloody well did it first time! I was upside down on my head, body erect (another one for you Chriffstoff) with my elbows as supports. This got the immediate attention of the other wrestlers and they all followed suit. Upside down human trees growing and then swaying unsteadily and felling themselves. After another attempt my cranium felt uncomfortably dense so I ceased from the head standing and watched with pained amusement as coach Ma was bouncing up and down on a young wrestlers hips while he was in the splits position, He still had at least 4 more inches to go to complete a full one and Coach Ma was pressing down on hip and shoulder forcing the young boy down. At first the boy who must have only been about 12ish found the pain funny and he laughed and winced but as the weight mounted and coach Ma’s cauliflower ears dismissed the poor boys cries of “ ok that’s enough its really painful” his smile began to quiver and turned from whimpers to giggles to crying to hysteria. Coach Ma Zen like on his human perch laughing at the mixture of pain and laughter. Eventually he stepped off and the boy collapsed sideways and began crying without the laughing probably in relief and of course excruciating groin pain.


Sunday, 26th, September, 2010.
The apex of knee pain hit me as I tried to get out of bed this morning and I am
afraid I sounded the yodel of retreat and disappeared back under the covers. I
was in fact aching all over, even my teeth felt cold and tired. I felt an
animal instinct to hobble to a quiet dark person less corner and die. Like a
dog at deaths door. I woke up again at 2:30 in the afternoon and like the
butterfly emerging bespangled in glorious colour and vim I was made a new.
Praise Jebus! The rest of the day passed quietly, I cycled to the local burger
shop and got an unhealthy dose of KFC alike food and wolfed it down.


After darkness fell our cat the ever rambunctious
Bojang or as I am calling him at the moment the Japanese samurai spy CATZU! was
keeping us awake with his antics. I remember waking up at about 4ish and seeing
his tiger like salute at the foot of the bed crouching in the beds undulating
duvet hills. Catzus very own hunting grounds. I could feel him looking at me
and he shot at me with alarming speed, I managed to let out a little yelp but
not before he had leapt in the air landing on my face with one paw in my open
mouth and our noses touching one another. Then as quick as he came he went
jumping back almost like in rewind, like a wire worked Kung fu warrior being
pulled up into the air. He then knocked over a cup and I gruffly barked at
Sarah to “ PUT IT OUTSIDE AND SHUT THE DOOOR!” and she did and that was the end
of that day

PART240 weight lifting and a competition brewing

Saturday, September 25, 2010. I got up at
5:30 again as training has commenced again after the 4 day mid autumn festival.
Donning my knee supports 2 t shirts and thick trousers I exited the block of
flats and slowly was buffeted with a miserable biting cold into realizing that
I was not wearing enough, what’s more my knees and back was hurting and I could
feel the ominous stomach rumblings of diarrhea. The wind was blowing directly
in my face and getting under my cloths and chilling my bones in the murky dawn
light. The morning run didn’t really help warm me up as my knees were like a car
with no suspicions jarring painfully every time my feet hit the ground. The
morning session was cold long and painful but I was very happy that I had got
through it. Getting up in the morning and training is my daily Everest. If I
can just get up in the morning and train I am so happy with myself.


And so I was, I hoppled home and a student
with a diablo ran up to me and we chatted about Chinese martial arts on the way
home, she was called Bei hong cuin and she was small and thin with small
glasses which made her look like a very well behaved student. Instead of
exchanging phone numbers we exchanged names, writing our names on a scrap of
paper she had and giving the each other our written names. I don’t have a clue
why we did it. Mandarin and stick waving in the lengthening morning brought
back my inspiration and joy but then I felt really tired and had to sleep for
an hour.


In the afternoon Sarah and I went to lunch
at a beef hot pot restaurant with 3 of her old middle school class mates. One
of them had just spent many years in South Africa with a government
construction company. The heat he talked about made my stay in Haikou sound
like a cool breeze. They had to stay in tents for the first 4 months as they
constructed their own houses, only after they had finished did they have air
conditioning and could get started on building the things they where there for.
We had plates and plates of thinly sliced beef and lamb and the raw beef which
is dipped in wasabi sauce. It’s almost more fun to watch someone eat it than to
taste it yourself. The wife of the man who had been in south Africa was very
tall and used to be a model and she picked up a slice of chilled beef in her
chop sticks and dipped it fully into the wasabi sauce, we all looked on
laughing as when she ate it she pinched her nose and squealed in surprise as it
did its spicy job of fumigating her nose and lungs. I was interested to hear
about the man who had been to south Africa who said everyone stared at him “
when you walk down a street they stop and watch you go by and they all shout NI
HAO, they are crazy” he said in an exasperated way.  


At 3 I went to the wrestling class and was
pleased to find we were doing weight lifting. The class was congregated outside
the padded wrestling room with a few dumb bells and a bench press, and different
weighted bars. I was on fine form even though my knees where aching and I
worked on my back with the 50kg bars, lifting it from the ground and using my
back to lift it up until I was standing erect (that one’s for you Chriff!), The
sort of lifting the wrestlers do is completely different from the lifting I
have seen in gyms. In the gym people mainly work on isolating a muscle, for
instance having a weighted bar and standing still while only using your biceps
to lift but with the wrestlers you have a much heavier bar and you do the same
lift but you push up with your legs and use your whole body to achieve the
lift. In the gym you’re trying to get good looking muscles where as in
wrestling you’re trying to get stronger. We had a long run at the end of the
lesson but it got cut short as it started to rain. I saw a large influx of
wrestlers I have never seen before training today and I also saw a coach from
the more northern Hubei province had come back. I think there is a competition
brewing. I went straight to the loo when I got back home.

PART239 swimming with friendly

Thursday, 23rd, September, 2010.
We went swimming in the afternoon with Friendly, the chief from the engagement
party we met before. Himself, his wife and son came and picket us up in their
car and we drove to the Communist training centre with all its hotels and hot
springs. We arrived and Friendly drove us to the hotel canals which had massive
Tibetan dogs with shaggy mains like lions. They were truly the biggest dogs I
have ever seen. They were in big prison like metal cages and although bored
they looked well kept. They cost a fortune and I suppose treated better than
the hot pot dogs. After that we went to the biggest hotel in the area, the
swimming pool had fake trees and tropical foliage around the small clean
swimming pool and it reminded me of the sort of bright colored Disney like fake
trees and houses one might find in the back garden of a pub in England, glazed
fiberglass plastic. It was almost empty and I was glad to see it didn’t have
the dark yellow urine stains in the changing rooms; there were even fake leather
sofas in the changing rooms. We had a paddle and I get tired quickly, Its
interesting how when you’re not used to doing one form of exercise you have no
endurance for it. For instance if a weight lifter tried to run a marathon. I
suppose we train our muscles for different tasks and swimming is one task I
have not practiced much. Friendly and his wife both looked tired and I learned
that he had been up all of last night until 6 in the morning drinking with his
friends and his wife was just recovering from a fever and there have a very
active and attention seeking son. After the swim while we were waiting in the
hotel lobby for no particular reason (waiting around for nothing is a big part
of being in China I have found) I did some sparring with Friendly’s son who is
only 9 years old I think. He managed to kick me in the knee which bloody hurt
and set off what has been a brooding ach into a full scale one. The air was
cold when I got out of the pool and walking on the cold floor made my knees
creaky. On the way back on our way to have some dinner Friendly’s son was
acting up tried to grab my wily, he licked me and then slapped me in the face.
If he had tried that sort of stunt back when I was a teacher I would have had a
field day but instead I pushed the rage deep deep down until I forgot it was


We went to a fish hot pot restaurant, it
was 9:00 and the waitresses where clearing away the last bowls and plates,
Friendly went to talk to the chief and they laughed and patted each other on
the back and the chief went back down to the underground kitchen “The chief is
my friend, he will cook us special fish not on the menu, I taught him how to
cook it!” Friendly said proudly. It seems that friendly has friends everywhere,
he even knew the head chief at the big hotel with the swimming pool which was
how we got in without paying. As the thin slices of fish where placed around
the big black wok full of boiling soup on the table and as Friendly waxed
lyrical about how Northern Chinese don’t know how to cook this fish properly “
they just get a big plateful and dump it into the hot pot all at once and leave
it to cook until its very dry and overcooked’ He said passionately “you must
only put the fish in for 30 seconds at most so it’s only just cooked”, Friendly
served the whole meal and I never had to reach out to get anything, everything
from the fish to the lettuce, sweet corn cake and wine was placed in front of
me. It pays to have a chief as a friend I thought to myself.


There was another alternative reason for
going out with Friendly and that was because Sarah wants to learn how to cook
and she thought that why not ask the person who is the head chief at the most
expensive hotel restaurant in town. He was very pleased to offer Sarah a job as
a abalone princess, which means she will learn how to cook sea food and get
paid for it as well!. She was not expecting this and was ecstatic all night
long. It was contagious and even when Friendly’s son poked a waitress in the
eye I didn’t descend into the death rage. Friendlies wife and son went home
when the petulant child began to scream himself purple because he was so tired
and we where thankfully left without child and Friendly became more cheerful
and jokey. We heard a verbal fight going on outside our privet room and a
minute later the disturbing howls and whales of a distraught woman crying in the
room next to us.

PART238 mid autumn festival

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 another
horrid night’s sleep and woke with ringing fatigued ears and body to find a
troop of relatives arrived because of the mid autumn festival. Sarah barked at
me to get out of bed and I did so wishing that I could dissolve into oblivion
and not face the relatives. Unfortunately I haven’t got a handle on molecular
deconstruction so I went out and greeted the horde of relatives who where
frantically cooking and cleaning the flat, even Sarah was scrubbing my cloths
in a basin in the bath room. We all ate at 11:20 which I suppose was lunch. Dad
and I drank some grain wine and beer and we ate the deep fried chicken legs,
traditional festive steamed dumplings and the fatty pork, the pork was the only
thing which was holding me back from a culinary rout to heaven. There where
strips of inch thick slices of fat with a slither of meat running betwixt. I
had one but it was like trying to defeat a stubborn bounce castle in my mouth
so I stuck to the dumplings dipped in garlic and vinegar, we ate some of the
moon cakes which are usually dry hard cakes with marzipan and other sickly
sweet things in them, I only had a nibble. After watching the relative bustle
and cajole to clear away I put the lap top head phones on and watched a film
and drank some more. A far cry from my last week’s controlled training. The
thing which is interesting is that you need to work hard for a week to achieve
a little but you can undo it all and more in a single day. A present is harder
bought and wrapped than received ripped open and discarded. I studied Mandarin
for an hour and waved my stick around unenthusiastically, trying my best to do
a little and achieve the sense of doing a lot. It does and never has worked. I
was kept up all night by two mosquitoes. At 1 I killed the first and at 5:30 I
killed the second.