Before The Zhengzhou International Shaolin Wushu Festival
It’s Thursday, 18th of October 2018. 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 took 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 and so on. I was at the point, where I almost resign from my participation. I am not a kung fu master. Competitions are not my way of living. Why should I take part in this competition?
When the master asked about my final decision, I said yes. Later on, there were moments, when I regretted. Now, however, I am glad that I went. It is not stressful anymore. It is enjoyable, because I remember this dream of mine from few years ago. The dream to train intensively, to have skills which I can present to others and to be a part of a group, where we train together.
Although, all this dream I imagined differently, now I can see that what is happening in my life is what I asked for. Why than not enjoy it fully? I decided: I will treasure every moment of this event.
So I started:
- Appreciate the evening group form trainings. Even, when I had so many other duties, which needed to be done.
- Appreciate everyday solo performances – all the students, who were taking part in the tournament had to present the competitions forms each day for 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 wanted to train it again. I’ve already spend 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 up rightly and that required work and attitude.
- Be happy about the upcoming events and connected with it lots of hours in a bus, less sleep, lots of waiting, lots of recording and performance nervousness.
19th of October we have travelled whole day in a bus to arrive to a big hotel in Dengfeng. This day I didn’t drink much water as I wanted to avoid toilet. At the end of the day I felt very drained, but also excited for the upcoming events. The next day there was no competition, just an Open Ceremony in the morning. THAT WAS an unforgettable experience.
Let me describe it for you. 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 so on.
Check the video below about this 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 by yourself what I mean.
That was not the end of our excitements. In the afternoon we have again visited the Shaolin Temple. One more time we have witnessed 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
Finally came Sunday 20th of October. The competing part of the tournament has began. Oh it was soo good to have morning for myself, to have time for making my and others hair, to pack and eat without any rush. I enjoyed that so much 🙂 All my companeros and me performed in the afternoon. We had to be ready at 1:20 PM. On that day I presented 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 would answer 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 matters 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 events.
- 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 perfectionate the skill if you won’t practice it long enough and I mean here years. Even, when you feel that your skill is okey and you feel like you don’t need to work on it anymore, in order to accomplish the best quality, you need to spend time on training it and go beyond the border of the feeling “it’s okey”.
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 very basic level of kung fu as well as international champion level. In 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 can in any way match the expertise of other insanely good martial artists. Why? Did I not received a GOLD MEDAL?
Let me explain how the medals works. All the participants were submitted into one of many groups. The groups were divided according to the gender, form and nationality. So, women and men were competing only against the same gender. 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 competed against each other, while chinese athletes performed against their national martial artists. We didn’t compete against chinese, which made the gold or silver medals much easier to achieve.
Also, good news! Everybody receives medals! 20% of the competing group receives gold medal, 30% silver and the rest bronze. In that way everybody had a good feeling after the tournament. To give you an example, in my fan form, among 12 athletes 2 girls received gold medal (including me), 3 girls silver and 7 bronze. So even if you wouldn’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? Yes and no.
Closing ceremony was a “Sounds Musical”. Watch the video below.