1) White Crane - this is centered around power and force. it seemed like the most practical option in terms of learning something that could be used in a real life situation rather than busting out fancy jumps and spinning kicks. Around 2/3 of the school does this. As my room mate and neighbours where all in White crane I figured it was a logical place to start. Pretty sure I'm going to stick with it though as it's pretty bad ass!
2) Shaolin - This seems to be centered around fitness and flare. It's still a very powerfull form in terms of how 'hard' it makes someone, but is more for professional ring fights than bar brawls. Lots of horror stories about people crying beause they train so hard (lots of runs, press ups etc) Again, around 2/3 of the school does this.
3) Baji - This seems to be centred around performance of kata's (sets of movements that demonstrate techniques) with and without weapons. only about 4 students do this
4) Tai Chi - This is focused around the control of the body's Qi (chee) and performing set kata's, but basically in slow motion. If you've seen road house I'm pretty sure Swazie performs a Tai Chi kata at one point topless whilst the bad guy watches him. It's a really relaxed martial art but I think the idea is if you can perfect the moves in slow motion then you can use them in real life at full speed. Fuck knows.
So a typical day at the camp is as follows:
5:00 wake up and get ready to kick off at 5:30
5:30 The whole school (all the classes) meet at the shaolin hall to do the morning circuit. Most days it's held by Pierre, who is essentially a robot. This guy is 27, ripped to fuck and hard as nails. The class varies from day to day to excersize different parts of the body eg upper body, legs, abs. A couple of times we've done something different though like one day we did conditioning (where you smack forearms and legs into each other to make your body 'tougher' or this morning when we did akido type holds and arm locks (for self defence). Not only is it fucking early in the morning, but it's also the hardest thing we do all day!
6:00 Class starts, so as I'm in white crane we meet on the area of concrete outside the rooms and start off with Qi Gong. This is a series of movements to get the fundamental body possions and stances corrrect. It's pretty cool to do neo meditation as the sun rises looking out to the hills and vallys below.
6:30 Line drills. We all line up and go up and down the concrete area doing different kicks, chops, punches etc. Can't really explain what we do without demonstrating, but if you've ever done a martial art class you'll know what I mean! It's really good for muscle memory of the different attacks and combos.
7:30 Breakfast. As with every meal, get there quick and be ruthless otherwise you go hungry! They sit all the students around 4 circular tables 8 or so to each table and put 2 bowls in the middle, one with scrambled egg and tomatoes and the other with chips. The egg one gets battered first then the chips. everyone has chop sticks so if you don't have ninja chop stick skills you're fucked!
8:00 Morning break. I usually take this time to go for a crap and grab 40 minutes sleep.
9:00 Class re-convenes at the basket ball court. White crane then go off and do sprints which is basically 300 metres jog, 200 meteres run and 100 metres sprint four times without a break between. I come 3rd last to this litte kid called Jimmy and the stoner Billy who is mashed most days. Ahead of me is always Jackson (really cool aussie guy who is letting me use his laptop right now!), Samir and Jack (these two always come as a package, really cool 19 year old guys from england who are a good laugh) Dan (my room mate) and Scott (full timer who has been at the camp for 18 months and has arms like steel posts!
9:30 We go through a series of stretches to limber up each part of the body. this lasts about 20 minutes. Then we do knuckle push ups (on concrete!), jumps, running on the spot and punches for the last 10 minutes.
10:00 conditioning, ok, so as I mentioned earlier conditioning is basically getting your body used to being hit. The idea is to strengthen the bones and muscles that are frequently hit during a fight like forearms (during blocks) legs (to stop getting 'dead legs' aka grandad's), chest, abs and forehead. As I type I have a cut on my knuckles from the press ups on conrete (designed to toughen up the fists) and rather large brusing on my forearem from the conditioning. If you go to the rising dragon facebook page there are loads of videos of people smashing arms with each other and at some point i'll try and get a video up of me getting knocked about! DO NOT DO CONDITIONING WITH SCOTT HE WILL CAUSE YOU PAIN! I did slaps with him which is designed to condition your abs. You basically tense your abs as much as you can and the other person issues a palm punch to them. Then you return the favour. I think I actually managed to beat the record against scott the other day of surviving 7 of them from him! Probably cus me and chall always do it when we're drunk!
11:30 break. No time for sleep so I usually just chat or kick a football about with the guys.
12:00 Lunch. Again, survival of the fastest with the old chop sticks! Massive bowl of rice for everyone (more than enough to go around) and 2 bowls per table of 8/9 people, one with meat and veg and the other with just veg. Everyone just hen picks out the meat at warp speed (no time to chew!), then eats the veg with the rice. Bassically it's all about getting your fix of protien to build your muscles that you're constantly battering!
12:30 Longest break of the day, either watch a film on my ipod, hit the computer room, go for a sleep or take a walk to the near by village for supplies.
2:30 Meet at the basket court and go for a jog. We either go to the waterfall or up the hill and back. Only about a 20 minute jog either way and the same order as earlier in terms of finishing possitions!
3:00 Meet in the 'red man room' (so called as there's a big red dummy there with no arms that we practise hitting to get used to the techniques) and go through the same stretching and pressup routine from the morning. After we're finished with that we do some more conditioning only this time we tend to do it against objects rather than each other. There's the red man for doing combos and strikes against, the wooden dummy which if you've ever seen an old kung fu movie there's usually a scene where the hero hits these wooden blocks at warp speed with different blocks and chops, a bucket of gravel to grind your fists into, a couple of padded walls to punch and a weights room to condition your wrists with (and to work out outside of class hours if you like).
4:30 FInal half an hour doing form, basically our kata. Only as we're in white crane our form consists of about 10 moves which we do over and over and over again and never seem to learn anything else. Sightly tedious but I suppose necceary for getting the fundamental stances correct.
5:00 Finish. Usually a good opertunity to do washing, tidy your room or have a shower
6:00 Diner. Basically exactly the same as lunch!
Ok, running out of time and you're probably a bit bored of reading all this so I'll give you some more details on what I've been doing day to day and at the weekends another time.