PART13. A little red car (dont hitch hike in Malaysia part 2)


Unfortunately due to money shortage I must cut my trip short. I am planning to go back to China on the 2nd of September. At first I was very sad that I had to go. I have been planning to train here for years and now it has to be cut short. On the other hand I hate having to worry about money and also having to borrow money and it was really playing on my mind all the time so it tainted my trip slightly. I had hoped that Sarah could stay here as well but that didn’t work out so she had to go back to China. I miss her a lot. I always think about the next time I can see her and I wait every night for her phone call.

I am glad that I will see her soon and I will be going back to Shanxi to practice wrestling again.

Later on that week I planned to go to Balik Pulau to shop. As soon as I stepped out of the Zhong Ding training center a man purred up on a motor bike and asked if I wanted a lift, he drove me to the bus stop where promptly a car pulled up and a man popped his head out and asked where I was going. ‘’ Balik Pulau how much is it?’’ I asked ‘’no money no money’’ he replied.

 I got in and as he took me to Balik Pulau he told me that he was a school teacher we talked about religion and faith.  

 

The next day again I  wanted to go to Balic Pulau and I set off walking in high hopes that I would have the same luck as yesterday. My faith in the universe was strong.

 

Shortly after setting out a red car came up and stopped in front of me. “Where you going?” said the driver. “Balik Pulau how much?”. “Ah it’s ok, for free”. Just as planned. As we drove along I found out that the skinny older man was a factory worker. His car was blissfully air conditioned. Cold enough so that for the first 5 minutes it was very pleasant then after that it started to get uncomfortable, it was also pleasantly fragrant. We came up to the last turn to Balik pulau but he turned right.

“Hay it’s the other way”, I said

“oh I thought I show you around Balik Pulau a bit is ok?”. He replied casualy

 

 “Ok” I said,

 

 I didn’t have anything else to do. We passed a nice looking estate with large beautiful houses with balcony’s and large gates, “oh nice houses very big” I said. “You like?” he asked. He then slithered his left hand across my shorts and grabbed my groin.

 

” WOW! No, don’t do that” I said,

 

“you like?”, he said with a little giggle looking deep into my eyes as he drove.

 

 “No I don’t like I have a wife”, I replied as I batted his hand away

 “Oh some English have wife but they like it also”. He said still looking me dead in the eye. I noticed how thin and spidery his fingers were.

 

 “I don’t like it”. I said firmly

 

 We then had a few minutes of silence where I was trying to comprehend what just happened. I was not scared but I was wary. He was smaller than me and I had a knife on me but maybe he did as well, maybe he had friends nearby and things might go beyond my control. I decided that if he turned off the main road I would jump out of the car immediately.

 

For some reason I was still in the car acting like nothing happened. How English I thought. Or maybe I was just lazy; I still wanted a free lift to Balik Pulau.

 “Sorry you are angry with me” he said.

 

 “No I am not angry I am just shocked” I said. And now I was trying to make him feel better!

 

 Then he tried it again!. This time more forcefully. He grabbed my groin and lent over towards me. I parried his hand away. “Let me see it? I just want to see it”. He pleaded.

 

 “No! And I am going to get angry in a minuet if you try that again”. I shouted, suddenly angry, I wanted to punch him in the face.

 

“oh ok” he said and kept driving. I told him to take me to Balik Pulau immediately and he turned the car around and did so.

 

He started to turn off again just before the roundabout in Balik Pulau so a told him I was getting out. He apologized and I had to stop myself from saying something to console him. It’s just such a knee jerk reaction for me to be polite, most of the time I think it’s a good thing but sometimes I cannot stop myself and afterwards I regret not standing up for myself more. I controlled myself and said in a neutral tone “thanks for the lift” as I got out of the car.

 

After shopping and returning to the Zhong Ding training center via the bus I thought about my hitch hiking experience. I thought about Malaysia. My experience so far is that it has a noticeable seedy feeling in certain places. A few times when Sarah was here I noticed Malay men staring at her in a very creepy manner. On one bus trip an older man sat beside her and kept looking at her and had his hands by his groin. She got up and we swapped places and I sat beside the man and returned his gaze until he got off the bus.

 

After a short ponder I decided never to hitch hike in Malaysia again.

 

 

Has anyone else ever got in a little red car and regretted it? What would you have done?

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PART8. Teaching wrestling to children in Penang island


Friday, June, 26th, 2009.

 

We were all doing standing post meditation; it was the Yi chuan style with a more alive stance than the Taiji variety. Just standing still with your arms out in front like your holding a ball. We did half an hour of it, well John and Vin did. nearing the end of it when my arms felt like falling off I started to feel a bit ill and faint the white mist creeping in from the outside of my view, so I let my arms down a bit. This was when Nigel said in a very serious voice ” I have told people to leave when they cannot complete this”.

 

I panicked and raised my arms up again. The mist quickly came back and I could feel my face empty of blood. I felt like I was going to be sick and pass out.
Thankfully my ashen face must have convinced Nigel that I was not faking it and I was allowed to sit down. Very kindly Nigel offered to get me a drink and he also got out a little gadget to test if I had low blood sugar levels, I didn’t, also it was not that hot and I had eaten and drunk enough that day. This has happened before a couple of times but usually when I over do it in the heat.

 

I have always found standing post meditation hard. My mind rebels against being so still and my body gets itchy and fidgety.

Later on in the week a group of school kids came to the Zhong Ding training Centre. They were all from Fongs Kung foo class. They would be here for the weekend. It was a chance for Vin and I to practice teaching. The kids were split up into two groups. One for me and one for Vin. My group was the Shaolin monks and Vins group was the Wudang mountain monks. No particular reason for these team names but Nigel Sutton refused my idea for having Transformers, Autobots vs Decepticons.

 

 

 

Vin taking some of the children through a warm up

Vin took the classes at the beginning and warmed them up then I taught them wrestling and Vin taught them kick boxing. I don’t really like kids especially when they don’t do what they are told. But this group aside from one or two lazy one was pretty good. They picked up the wrestling very fast, doing a few throws even after just 20 minutes of being taught. Nigel Sutton said this was because wrestling is so natural and instinctive. He also said that in some cases even if someone has been doing martial arts for a long time a wrestler will usually beat them in a fight because they just do so much more actual sparring compared to other arts.

 

Nigel and John also taught the kids and Lian, Nigel’s son got involved. At the end of the weekend we had a competition for the children, getting them to have a wrestling competition and also to chose a form that they knew and perform it in front of us, one speed test involved hitting Lians padded hand holding a stick as many times as possible with a rattan stick. Unfortunately as the minute wore on the children’s accuracy which wasn’t much to talk about before became worse. They madly thrashed and threw themselves at Lian,s stick. Quiet often they would hit Lian on the forearm or catch a tender spot which was ill protected by the glove. Lian kept an indifferent look on his face letting out a controlled ‘’aow’’ when he was struck.

Instructor Nigel Sutton teaching

 
Vin and I have done this before as well and it’s still very painful even with the pad on. Holding out your arm for a few minutes while someone goes crazy smashing your hand, the odd blow penetrating through the pad and bashing the thumb.

 

There was also a kick boxing competition which I was apprehensive about but which turned out really well. I expected wild flailing punches and tantrums, But there was none of that. The children were very sportsmen like even after trying to beat each other up. At the end of the competition the scores where even.

 

 So Vin and I put on fencing masks and took up our kendo bamboo swords and had a fight. Although the bamboo swords really hurt you don’t feel it at first because you’re so pumped with adrenalin. The odd whack to the leg stings a bit and if it catches your hand its smarts. Vin won on points but Nigel said that there was one strike that I did to Vins head which if it was a real sword would have finished the fight, so Shoalin won. YEAH!

 

 Apart from that not much else has happened, we have just been training away. We have finished all the forms of lian padukan, and we are slowly getting ready for our Katami test in a couple of weeks. It involves a week long test called the 7 coffins where we have to sleep outside and are attacked and woken up any time of the night to fight and train, then after that week we get injured by Nigel Sutton. I still have not found out how or where we will be injured.

 

Then after all that we finish off by having an all-night test where we must face our fears. That’s all I know so far. It’s getting closer and closer. How do you prepare to face your fears?

 

 

If anyone who is reading this blog has ever felt faint or sick from meditation or Chi gong I would be very interested to hear about it. I hope I am not the only one. Please leave a comment, what do you think causes it?

Shuai jiao gym and competition photos


There are no weight catagories in the Shanxi goat wrestling competitition

After defeating 6 opponents in a row the champion wrestler wins a goat and raises it above his head. Photos from Xin Zhou online newspaper

A picture of the large Shanxi wrestler I saw at the Tai Zhou shuai jiao competition. His nickname is the Dinosaur

the juniors gym at the Xin Zhou sports university

on the way to the juniors gym

            

Shuai jiao school morning photos


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

The outdoor training area we run on every morning

   

 

 

Shuai Jiao photographs


Something I failed to mention is that in my first week of training the Xin Zhou news found me and took some photos of me and interviewed me. It wasnt much of an interview as I didn’t speak Mandarin, they didn’t speak English and they couldn’t think of any questions to ask me. A few days later a big poster was put up in the juniors gym with pictures of me wrestling. I had a mixture of embarrassment and also I was very touched.

Here are the photos of me training with one of the junior wrestlers, The young man is much lighter than me but when ever I would get a hold of his leg he would just jump in the air and balance on me. It was incredibly tiring and not as easy to counter as I would have thought.

I am the tall, sweaty red one just in case you didn’t know

Above is Coach Ma showing me a throw

PART4. Last days of training, next stop Malaysia


 

My last day of training. It was incredibly hot. In fact it was so hot that I felt quiet sick. After a few spirited wrestles I began to feel light headed and weak, I was drenched in sweat and eventually I had to run out of the gym to be sick.

 I remember this happened before on a couple of occasions when I was learning Tai chi in China. I had just finished a grueling push hands exercises were I had to push and pull someone up and down the training area, then at the end we did some standing meditation. This was when I started to get the jelly legs and blurred vision and thankfully under the watchful eye of my Taiji Master I was safely seated and given a glass of hot salty sugar water(yum!). This time it was not as bad at all but I did have to rest for a bit.

Anyway after a rest it was time to say good bye to everyone. Which is one thing I don’t think I will ever get used to. A lot of people in China just don’t say good bye!, they just walk off. The odd student came up and gave me a huge but the rest just went away without saying goodbye. It’s not that they are being rude or that they hate me (I hope they don’t hate me), it just a Chinese thing.

I remember when I was in China before when I went to my Master Fu’s home town and met his family and went to the grave cleaning ceremony, which involved a day hike were we went and watched the family clean the ancestors graves and offer them crispy duck, fruit and wine. Then we all ate crisps and cola and sweets and left all the wrappers on the mountain side, considering this was a family of about 25 people all eating snacks there was quite a mess, plus all the fireworks as well. Also being the prime idiot that I am when I was handed a supple skinned thin vine I of course ate it, it was bitter and disgusting and I hated it. It made my mouth all dry and weird. Later I saw that Master Fu’s family had tied the vines around their heads.

Ah well, you live, you eat vines, feel silly and then learn.

The main point for me talking about all this is that at the end when the army of brothers and sisters and children were leaving they just walked out the door without saying goodbye. This was the first time I had seen this and I was very shocked. The odd one gave a little grunt as they walked out the door but that was it, and it’s not like they were going to see each other very soon, Master Fu said they only meet up once or twice a year.

So I said goodbye to the wrestlers or rather I watched them leave without saying goodbye. Later that evening Chaiyi and I went to say goodbye to Coach Ma. He gave me a miniature wrestling waist coat and a pointy Mongolian hat which he got when he went to compete in a Mongolian Nadaam competition. I expressed my interest to go to Mongolia one day to try wrestling and Coach Ma warned me ‘’ you must be careful if you do they will break you’’. Coach Ma showed us pictures of the trip he made to France. There was a competition there many years ago and he went to compete. He told us a funny story; he went to a super market in France to buy some wine to take back to China. When he got back to China he took the bottle to a dinner party and they opened it and drank. They all found it very bitter and disgusting to drink. It wasn’t till they had drunk a fair amount of it that they finally realized it was in fact vinegar.

When Chaiyi and I left Coach Ma went a little red in the face and he began to cry ever so slightly. We walked away from his house and he waved us all the way down the street until we turned the corner.

The next day we said goodbye to Chaiyi’s parents. They watched us pack our bags, they insisted on riding in the taxi with us to the train station and they even bought tickets to be able to come onto the platform with us but when we were finally getting onto the train they just stood there and watched. I followed Chaiyi’s lead and got on the train and we sat next to the window and watched as they watched us. As the train geared up and pulled out of the station they had one last look at us a quick wave and then they turned and left.

We were on our way to Tai Yuan, the capital of Shanxi province. From there we will get a flight down to Guilin in Guangxi province in the south of China. When I was 20 years old my brother and I travelled to a small village in Guilin called Yang shuo. I stayed there for a year and a half practicing Chen Tai chi. it was a big changing point in my life and the place has a lot of significance for me. I met Chaiyi there; it was the first time I had lived away from my family and all that as well as living in a different country had a profound changing effect upon me. Now almost two year later we are going back again. I will practice Tai chi again in my old school for 3 weeks before we travel down to Malaysia to Penang Island where I plan to spend a year learning various martial arts like Silat, Krabi Krabong and Escrima.

PART3. Shuai Jiao wrestling competition Tai Zhou second day


The next day at 6 0, clock we got up, Coach Ma looking much more grizzly and haggard than myself. I vaguely remember him coming back to the hotel room much later last night. We quietly ate breakfast at the hotel buffet in our fragile state. Solemnly munching on bean buns and giving the walls the thousand yard stare.

There were many hung over wrestlers and officials grimly going about breakfast, One very ill looking man avoiding my gaze who the night before was trying to explain a joke to me about Japanese women.

After breakfast we went to the next half of the competition which was when the really heavy wrestlers came out to play. They were not as interesting to watch as the lighter wrestlers mainly because they got tired quicker and they did less throws. More than once two titanic wrestlers would prop themselves up against each other, breathing heavily as their coaches screamed at them to do something.

Coach Ma also had another 4 fights which I could slowly see was wearing him down. After the 4th one I could see he was almost spent. He won them all but in the semi-final bout he got a neck injury from one of the Mongolians wrestlers and when he almost immediately after that went to the finals he was beaten by a wiry Mongolian wrestler. He just looked so tired. Afterward when he took his top off he had scratches ever were, a black eye, a bruised neck and a sprained wrist, not to mention his battered legs.

That afternoon we went to an old Chinese city, very well kept amazing buildings and gateways and a horrible prison and torture museum with black and white photos of real people being tortured by different things. Images that I don’t think I will forget. I was also interviewed by a TV station from that city, asking what I thought of the old city, within 30 seconds I was surrounded by a crowd of people all staring at me. I went bright red did my best to answer the questions and then promptly left. Crowds form very quickly in china, if one person’s standing still looking at something very soon there will be more. Funnily enough just before I was ambushed I was watching a street performance of an old man pushing a spear into his neck and holding a bowl full of water on his stomach, I was in the process of telling coach Ma that I also could do the bowl trick when that familiar HELLO! Rang in my ears. Unfortunately I think I stool the old man’s crowd.

That evening they had the goat wrestling tradition; it’s the Shuai jiao style specifically from Shanxi. One wrestler must beat 6 men in a row. If you get put on the floor once you are out. It can be any size, weight, male or female and unlike the competition before you don’t wear the thick waistcoat. The competitors either wore a t shirt or went bear chested. This was a lot more fun to watch, it was not so serious and the stadium was fuller than at the competition in the morning. It was mainly the Shanxi Wrestlers vs the Mongolians. Whenever someone was thrown to the ground the team that lost all stood up in excitement throw off there t shirts and fighting there team mates to be the next on the mat.

The  Shanxi wrestlers won both the goats in the end. It was very interesting to see a big person throwing a small person as well. It looked effortless, as the smaller person sailed through the air. One tall and very obese man stepped out of the stadium seats and waddled onto the mat. The audience cheered encouragingly. One of the Mongolian wrestlers about half his size stepped up and they squared off, the large man from the stadium grabbed the Mongolians arm and kicked at his legs. The poor Mongolian actually left the ground and almost did a complete 360 degree spin before hitting the mat. Next a Mongolian man equalling the size of the man from the stadium stepped up and easily floored him.

 The Mongolians sat at one corner of the mat; they couldn’t help but sit on the mat and kept edging closer and closer to the centre. The referee had to come and shout at them to move back. They would for a moment but soon shuffled back. In the end a policeman came up to them and tapped at their feet with a truncheon. This also only worked for a short time.

The Shanxi wrestlers sat on the other side more controlled. The last match was the most interesting. A Mongolian had just beaten one of the Shanxi wrestlers and the Shanxi couches were talking amongst themselves. It went on for a while as people ran about going out of the stadium and coming back again. Soon one of the entrance doors opened and through it came a ginormous man. I don’t know how tall he was exactly but he made all the wrestlers who were over 6 feet tall look very small. The crowd began to chatter excitedly and the giant walked over to the Shanxi wrestler’s corner. From what the people next to me were saying I gathered that he was one of the Olympic Chinese wrestlers.

All the Shanxi wrestlers looked pleased and I saw the Mongolians talking seriously amongst themselves. The giant man took his t shirt off to reveal an impressively muscly body; one of the couches got up and began stroking and slapping his chest and back. Like a proud owner of a race horse.

At this point Coach Ma who was sitting with the other coach’s beckoned me down to him. I felt very self-conscious as I jogged down from the seats and onto the arena floor. He just pointed to the edge of the mat and I sat down quickly ‘’we call him the dinosaur’’ One of the wrestlers said as he pointed to the giant wrestler. I could see why, the giant man did look a little prehistoric.

Finally he warmed up and walked onto the mat. The Mongolian team sent out one of their biggest wrestlers who looked woefully small in comparison. The dinosaur dispatched him quickly by grabbing his face with one giant hand and grabbing his foot with the other and spun him top side under. The next 5 matches were slow. The dinosaur was being careful but he managed to win the last goat. On the subject of goats I didn’t see him actually receive one instead he won a new car. I see now why he was so careful to win the match.

The next day we drove back to Xin Zhou and that was when I noticed I had a cold and my eye was not doing its job properly. Unfortunately my brain was also not doing its job properly because I somehow managed to delete most of the videos and pictures from my camera so there is only a couple from the competition. Hopefully I will be able to get some of me wrestling and stuff like that before I leave Xin Zhou next Monday.