TABLE OF CONTENT
Before The Shaolin Temple Wushu Festival
Thursday, 18th of October, Qufu Shaolin Kung Fu School
Tomorrow, 11 students from Qufu Shaolin Kung Fu School go to Deng Feng, a famous city of Shaolin Temple, to participate in one of the biggest international competitions in China. I am one of these students. I have already taken part in 2 international competitions in China. That will be my third and the biggest one. It takes place only one time every two years.
I feel happy to be part of this event. At first, I was reluctant to go. It is expensive. It is time-consuming. It is a bit stressful. But, when the master asked about my final decision, I said yes. Later on, there were moments when I regretted it. Now, however, I am glad that I am going.
It doesn’t make me anxious anymore. It is enjoyable because I remember a dream of mine from a few years ago. The dream to train intensively, to have skills that I can present to others, and to be part of a group where we train together.
Although I imagined this dream differently, now I can see that what is happening in my life is what I asked for. Why then not enjoy it fully? A few weeks before the competition, I decided to treasure every moment of this event and preparation time for it.
For Zhengzhou International Shaolin Wushu Festival
A Few Weeks Before
So, I started to:
- Appreciate the additional training hours in the evening for a group form that the students were preparing for the competition. Even when I had so many other duties, which needed to be done.
- Appreciate everyday solo performances – all the students participating in the tournament had to present the competition forms every day in the last two weeks before the event. It was tiring, but also it was a good exercise to get used to public performances and give the full power into the form each day.
- Put effort into my solo forms. Putting my heart, energy, and passion into them. I need to admit, at first, I was bored with my fan form. I didn’t really want to train it again. I’ve already spent months in the last year preparing this form for my first competition. It was challenging to train it again with passion and effort. My mind had to be set uprightly, and that required a good attitude.
- Be happy about the upcoming event and connect with it lots of hours on a bus, less sleep, lots of waiting, lots of recording, and performance nervousness.
19th of October – Arrival
We have traveled the whole day on a bus to arrive at a big hotel in Dengfeng. This day I didn’t drink much water as I wanted to avoid the toilet. At the end of the day, I felt drained but also excited for the upcoming events.
20th of October – Street Performance and Open Ceremony
The next day there was no competition, just Street Performance and Open Ceremony in the morning. That was an UNFORGETTABLE experience. The bus took us to the Shaolin Temple. On the way from both sides of the road, students from the local martial arts schools, meaning probably around 30,000 of them, practiced various forms of kung fu: fist forms, broadsword, straight sword, fan, whips, conditioning with sandbags and with water, jumps, tai chi, and the list goes on.
Check the video below from this incredible Shaolin Warrior Street Performance.
The Open Ceremony – ShaoLin Music Ritual was as impressive as the street performances. Just watch the video, and you will know what I mean.
That was not the end of our excitement. In the afternoon, we visited the Shaolin Temple again. One more time, we have witnessed the impressive skills of Shaolin Monks and students from Tagou School – the biggest Kung Fu academy in China. Also, this performance we have recorded and made a short video about it.
Zhengzhou International Shaolin Wushu Festival
Sunday, 20th of October
The competing part of the tournament has begun. Oh, it was soo good to have the morning for me, have time for making my and others hair, and pack and eat without any rush. I enjoyed that so much 🙂
All my companeros and I performed in the afternoon. We had to be ready at 1:20 p.m. On that day, I presented the 7 Star Fist Form in a group of 8 girls. I got silver together with Julia from Austria (a student from Qufu Shaolin Kung Fu School).
You probably wonder how I felt. Was I nervous? Was the level high? Was I happy with my performance? If I answered directly to these questions, it would be:
- “I was, of course, a bit nervous. The level in my group was average. I felt satisfied with my performance because I didn’t make any huge mistake :).”
But, to be honest, the above does not matter that much. Because it was not about winning or competing, it was about THE EXPERIENCE!
If It’s Not About Winning, What Is It About?
- Firstly, it was to face the emotions associated with this kind of event.
- Secondly, it was to get inspired by all those amazing kung fu athletes, and it definitely worked. I received so much good energy and motivation watching them.
- Thirdly, it was to spend more time on training particular forms.
Without the competition, I wouldn’t train fan form as much as I did. I like changes. I get quickly bored by repeating the movements. You cannot, though, really perfect the skill if you don’t practice it long enough, and I mean here years. Even when you feel that your skill is okay and you feel like you don’t need to work on it anymore, to accomplish the best quality, you need to spend time on training it and go beyond the border of the feeling “it’s okay”.
At some point, we can experience being stuck, no progression. If you stay consistent, though, sooner or later, there will be a slight change, which makes it all worth the work. But without a push, it is very difficult to stay on the path of repeating the same thing over and over again.
So, yes, the competition is this push, which makes you train one thing over and over again.
What Means To Win
In Zhengzhou International Shaolin Wushu Festival?
Imagine people from all over the world presenting both the basics and international champion level of kung fu. On the second day of the tournament, I won a gold medal for my fan form. That was, of course, a very happy moment, but I definitely did not feel that my kung fu skill could in any way match the expertise of other insanely good martial artists. Why? Did I not receive a GOLD MEDAL?
Let me explain how the medals work in Zhengzhou International Shaolin Wushu Festival. All the participants are submitted into one of many groups. The groups are divided according to gender, form, and nationality. For example, I competed my 7 Star Fist Form against 7 other girls performing the same form.
My Kung Fu Fan Form was assigned together with 11 other fan forms, from which 9 were TaiChi Fan Forms and the 2 (including me) Kung Fu Fan Forms. The forms differed. All international participants compete against each other, while Chinese athletes perform against their national martial artists. We didn’t compete against the Chinese, which made the gold or silver medals much easier to achieve.
Also, good news! Everybody receives a medal! 20% of the competing group gets a gold medal, 30% silver, and the rest bronze. In that way, everybody has a good feeling after the tournament. To give you an example. In my fan form, among 12 athletes, 2 girls received a gold medal (including me), 3 girls silver, and 7 bronze. So even if you didn’t have any kung fu skills, you would get bronze, just for the fact that you went in front of the judges.
So is this really winning?…