Thursday, 9th, September, 2010.
I woke up at 5.20 and with a grunt propelled myself out of the bed. First thing
I took my red pill from my Animal m stack pack which apparently contained the
(stims) energy element of the muscle building pack. I did feel fairly chipper
as I walked along the deserted main road towards the wrestling school but that
may have been to do with the fresh air and the elation at the absence of human
beings. I arrived at school and waited warming up my stiff sleepy body. At 6 I
noticed that Coach Ma and his students had dent arrived so I joined the senior
wrestlers in their run. Although I have always been a slow runner I think I
have the marathon in me, the fit wrestlers dissolved into my peripherals and
back into my dust as I sped past them. I finished out of breath and feeling
ready to lose my meal from the day before. Then I noticed Coach Ma had arrived
and his rabble of young wrestlers where warming up for their run outside the
school gates. I joined them yet again for the run. I over took them all again
and feeling dangerously shaky took my place in front of the giant TV screen and
waited for the basic exercises to commence. I noticed for the first time that
most of the student’s where very young and new, some being only 10 years old. I
went through the motions of the basic exercises, Squatting, shooting up, twirling.
I began to feel very ill and in-between the drills I stuck safely near the
verge of the grass in case I needed to be sick. The morning thankfully came to
a close with me in one peace, I was shaky and I made my way back home like a
drunk with unsure feet slowly wobbling his way home with legs and unresponsive
to command, the serious wobbles. Shower, wash cloths, breakfast and then stick techniques
for half an hour, mandarin lesson for 20 minuets then I read myself to sleep. I
was on fire! I woke up at 1 o, clock tired and sore.
When I got to school later in the afternoon
I met up with the other junior wrestlers and we entered the training room under
the schools stadium. It was very dirty and the plastic cover which usually goes
over the mats was gone, leaving the old dusty mats bare. Coach Ma was not there
and many of the young students ran around play fighting and shouting, can you imagine
what happens when you leave a large group of unsupervised teenagers in a padded
room? I watched as they hung on the ropes from the ceiling and swung around
like monkeys. Immediately I wished that I could join the senior class, which
was in the much larger training hall and the coaches always turn up to class.
Last time I was hear Coach Ma didn’t actually come to class very much and when
he did he reeked of alcohol. The standard in training suffered. I am going to
ask him if when he isn’t teaching I can go to the other class.
lesson started with a run and then we went through the cartwheels, dive roles
and basic exercises. Then after a short stretch we began to wrestling. I was
happy to find that my wrestling skills had not deflated too much and I managed
to beat everyone who came up against me. This may have to do with the fact that
most of them are about 15 years old and much lighter than me. It worried me because
all the older students have graduated and moved to the senior class now, so I
am left with a class of young boys who I can throw around. The only thing which
had gone was my fitness, after a few rounds I was panting and feeling decidedly
green around the gills. I had a breather and paced myself over the next few hours.
After the class I walked back home pleased with the day and happy that I had
done everything I had set out to do.
As I said before Coach Ma keeps me on my
toes. I got a phone call from him saying there was a competition on this
evening and that I should go to school at 8. I did so and after a long wait as
all the wrestlers congregated on the dusty running tracks at school we
eventually went to the competition. Coach Ma drove a group of us in his van to
the small muddy village just outside Xinzhuo. Turning off right from the dark straight
main road full of articulated coal Lorries we went down a steep slope and in
the dark night ahead a large wrestling arena was bright and visible. A large crowd
of mainly local farmers where grouped around it watching the drum and symbols
performance by a troop of old women in colorful garb smashing their drums and
gold symbols together emitting a distinctly war like beat. “Entre the arena of
mortal combat” I said out loud by mistake. I meant to say it in my head but I
was very nerves. Past the roped and padded raised stage we drove and stopped
next to a make shift temporary restaurant, I assume erected for this evening’s festivities.
Blue tarpaulin on long wooden poles created the canopy under which a mixture of
coal dust, mud and discarded food where all trampled into the sodden ground.
Small old wooden chairs and tables where scattered around and stark white naked
light bulbs illuminated this decidedly ramshackle eating area.
A hoard of loud bustling wrestlers where
laughing and reacquainting themselves with friends around the tables, Large
dishes of crude looking food where slammed unceremoniously on the tables by
butch farmer/waitresses. There looked almost as big as the wrestlers and they
certainly looked meaner. Coach Ma myself and a group of absolutely monstrously
large wrestlers sat down on one of the round tables and with chipped dirty
bowls and chop sticks shoveled the delicious food. There was lots of meat,
duck, pork, Fish with pork and chicken. I went through the motions of eating a
little but my nerves where conquering my appetite and the food tasted like
unswalloably bland paste. I just wanted to go and have a big scared poo in a
quiet dark corner and then maybe scuttle off so I didn’t have to wrestle. After
the meal I only had the chance to have a quick wee over a bridge as a group of
girls sat close by chatting. It would have been embarrassing but there were a
whole hoard of men waggling there willies in the air. Safety in numbers.
I noticed for the first time that behind
the wrestling arena there was a large bright stage with Shanxi opera singers scratching
and whaling. Coach Ma told me that in this kind of competition it’s traditional
to have a Shanxi opera. What he failed to mention to me was the fact that this competition
traditionally went on until 5 in the morning. I had my swift bout of wrestling
with a tall wiry and rather jerky young man who quickly bamboozled me with his
foot work and after a brief embrace we both fell to the ground entwined, I hit
the ground first so I was out and his next opponent slipped under the roped and
they began again. The judges gave me a fancy tea cup of my efforts and I spend
a very uncomfortable half an hour or so squatting by the ring with a mass of people
around me. My legs became tired and burnt, not help by the extra weight of
people chummily leaning on my shoulder or holding my hand as we all cheered at
the stage. “ would you mind getting your porky arm off my shoulder mate, it
feels like a ton of bricks” I didn’t actually say this instead I got up and stiffly
made my way back to the edge of the spectators crowd where I was able to stand
and revitalize my legs with blood again.
found it endlessly peculiar and as the hours wore on and numb fatigue set in I cultivated
a really bad mood. I was tired and cold and it was 3 in the morning and the
wrestling had become boring after the first hour and if one more person asks me
where I am from or how old I am or how much I weigh I might have a spak attack!.
Have you ever been in a completely alien situation and you don’t know what the
hell is going on? That’s what this was like. “Why the Dickens is this competition
going on for so ruddy long? I want to go to bed”. There was a lot of betting
going on with pieces of paper being pasted around and thick wads of money
changing hands. It may have accounted for the cautious and slow kind of
wrestling I was witnessing, Usually at goat competitions people wrestle fast
and have fun but here every one was taking their time as they had money at
stake. This wasn’t strictly a goat wrestling do, it was a cow do. A large black
cow was tethered to a basketball hoop nearby with an undignified red bow around
its horns. At 4:30 I glanced at the poor beast and I saw it sink to its knees
on the hard concrete basketball court and a weary moo slipped out of its mouth.
“Your dam right my friend, moo, it’s all far to moo for me as well”, I thought
to myself sympathetically.
least I wasn’t tied to a basketball hoop with a red bow on my head. I was
pleased to see the cow loosened her rope a bit and managed to crash through the
small flimsy fence and it lay down on a young tree which disappeared to its
doom under the big animal as it stiffly made its way down to the ground. I
arrived back home at 5:30 in the morning, exactly the same time I had woken up
24 hours before. I trudged up the stairs to the apartment with my prize tea cup
and 100 Yuan which coach Ma had given me, I saw just before we left that he was
handed a dirty big stack of 100 Yuan bills, no wonder they were all so
enthusiastic about the wrestling. I went to bed and fell asleep quickly and
with a sigh of relief.