July 5:The rain finally came again on Monday, and with it came Deqing, for a morning work out. The fog hung low in the valley, preempting any bit of sunlight that wanted to come through. It was slightly cool, with the occasional sprinkle, and the even less occasional full blown shower, and it made for a perfect work out day. Again, I could go outside without my sunglasses. Again, I awoke with a migraine. But work out we did, and despite frequent rest breaks to try to combat this damn migraine accompanying fatigue, I got through the morning. We started working on ton lon chuan, which is Chinese for praying mantis boxing. This is not exactly the type of gong fu that you would teach an American, especially a large one, as it requires many low stances, and complicated hand maneuvers. It is a very powerful way of fighting, not only because of the sudden and powerful movements, but also because it is terribly deceptive. It just doesn't look like a powerful way of fighting. Especially when I do it.
The kids next door probably thought so too. I train on a large concrete patio, in front of the hotel (I hate to call this shithole a hotel....), and off to the side, overlooking another school, in which there are about forty children and teenagers studying wushu. Well, they should be studying wushu, but instead, when I appear, usually at 8 or 8:30 in the morning, they kind of stop what they're doing, and watch. It's almost as if they've never seen an American before. Well, some of probably haven't, with a good deal of these kids coming from areas of China which are far off the tourist path. And I can assure you, they've never seen an American do wushu before, at least the way I try to do it. They kind of just stand there and look in amazement. Are they impressed? I doubt it. I get the feeling it's one of those "look how he's screwing up our sacred wushu". Well, I try. And for the most part, I try all morning, and I try all afternoon. With the bow staff, the sword, the boxing routines, and now, a little praying mantis. The kids really get entertained when I start swinging the bow staff around; some of them even laugh a little, as they banter on with their gibberish that three years of on and off Chinese training allows me to understand, well, nothing. They're having fun, or at least, being entertained, in part by my attempts to get this stuff "flowing", in part by the fact that they've probably never seen a big American like me. A bald one at that.
Lunch was the usual protein drink mixed with water. I have a bit of fear, well, no, it's a great fear, of going into the restaurants to order food. My attempts at getting chao fan (wo yo y ban chao fan: I want a bowl of fried rice) has historically gotten me anything from steamed rice and a funny look, to boiled pig's blood and deep fried pig's fat. But this year I've gotten the tones down a little better, and when I say "wo yo y ban chao fan", I get the damn chao fan. And, ko ke ku la, always gets me Coke. Especially when I point at it. Now, to get a cold one (the Chinese haven't figured out that Americans like cold drinks with their meals) requires a bit of work. "Bing" means cold, that is, if you use the proper high flat tone. To get a bottle of cold water, one would say "wo yo i bing ping quan chuan schwei", which to my understanding means "I want a cold bottle of mineral water", but to some of the restaurant girls, who are listening to this with my New York accent, it looks to me more like I'm saying "I want to screw your family's cow". When all else fails, getting up and pointing does the trick.
More ton lon chuan in the afternoon, along with xiaohong chuan, and the bow staff form, as well as the basic gong fu maneuvers. The old legs just don't want to let me get down low, nor do the one legged stances allow me to stand upright for more than what seems like a millisecond. The balance is bad from the old head injury, and I can't seem to get it better. The afternoon workout was slightly better, though the migraine and fatigue made it all very difficult. Even the kids next store can see me drag. Oh, by this time, they finally learned that when I get tired of having them watch me, I kind of move down the patio a bit, so I'm out of their line of vision. HA! Fooled the little buggers. Thought they could get cheap thrills out of watching me all day.