My place in the swirling nether
Kung Fu Fighting

Journal entry II China



Leaving Russia I was exposed to Russian exit customs, which of course is 10 times worse than Russian entry customs.  I guess they want to make sure I’m not really a Russian trying to defect.  They subjected the protein powder I bought in Moscow to analysis, evidently I wasn’t smuggling 5 kilos of heroine out of the country.  It took something in the order or 6 or 7 hours to finish the exit procedure.  An hour and a half longer than the train schedule allowed.  I hope that means we’ll arrive in Beijing an hour later, we are currently scheduled at a tad after 5 am local time.  The Chinese side checked me for SARS.  I think they’re a little mixed up, you aren’t going to bring SARS into China.  It wasn’t so bad though.  The Russian side was much worse.  I imagine it will be a pain in the ass to leave however.




You know the times I feel most sure of my self, most confident, are when I know absolutely nothing.  When I’m in a completely new situation.  It sounds like lunacy, well it may be.  But I know I can adapt, can overcome, I know I can solve whatever problems I may face.  That’s why I feel so confident, because I’m in my element.  This is the thing I do best.

            If this sounds like arrogance I don’t care.  I’ll let reality be my judge.


This is the feeling I get stepping off the first station in china.  No one knows English, no one knows Russian.  The military is all garbed in their anti-SARS outfits.  Words look like gobbly gook to me.  They mean nothing.  I still haven’t a clue how to get to the Shaolin temple, all I know is that I’ll be there a day after I arrive in Beijing.


Journey and Arrival in Shaolin:


For the first day in china I didn’t hear any Chinese, only bad Russian.  A Chinese person traveling with me on the train was also staying in Beijing for a night so we stayed at the same hotel.  He spoke no English, and bad Russian.  He studied Russian in Moscow like I did.  My own Russian is much better.


Anyway we parted and I found my way to Deng Feng, a town about 10 minutes away from the Shaolin temple, and ten hours by train from Beijing.  I’ll be staying in-between shaolin and Deng Feng.  I found my Shifu.  He is a monk who lived in the temple for the greater portion of his life.  Shi De Cheng

These days the actual temple isn’t what it used to be.  I fear the art of Shaolin Kung Fu may fade away.  Right now children don’t go to the shaolin temple to become monks; only graduates of the Beijing Buddhist University can become monks.  Many of the older monks have left the temple and now live near by.  The abbot of the temple is in his 30s where there are pre-revolution monks.  The Chinese government definitely has a hand in this.  Yes there are a few monks overseas who are teaching it, but they are teaching classes for a maybe 2 hours, 3 times a week.  People may learn a thing or two, but it is nothing compared to what the monks themselves went through, some of them training from the age of 3 for 10 hours a day.


There are monks who made it through the Cultural Revolution, as my Shifu’s master did.  Who is now quite old.  For the most part traditional Shaolin Kung Fu is not taught anymore, instead a more contemporary wushu, which is flashier, but in my opinion a shadow of what it once was, is taught to the younger generation.  I feel a great honor to know that I will be taught the true traditional Shaolin Kung Fu.  True Shaolin Kung Fu is not just for show.


The Edge of my Limits, and Beyond:


            Once you push yourself to a certain extent, to the point where you simply can’t go any further.   This is your so-called limit.

            Something I have long since learned is that this limit is not absolute.  It is not the highest attainable thing.  It is not hard barrier, but soft.  A level beyond may seem impossible, but I have learned that it is only of the utmost difficultly.  The mind is stronger than the body and it can bend the body to do its will.  You can learn to push beyond your maximum.  You hear of things like mother’s lifting cars off their children, there was only one reality in their entire being… this car will be moved.  It is not a question of mere strength.  Something that simply had to be done, not doing it would be simply inconceivable, and so it was.  This is what I push myself to tap into.   

So a person can learn to go beyond their maximum.  Once they do this it is not a single bit easier to do it again.  It is just as difficult as it always was, only the mind has become stronger and the mind can withstand more than it has before.  It is all a matter of what the mind can withstand.

If I want to do something beyond my limits, my body will obey my command.  I am not going to listen to any whining from it.

            This is what I seek to train.  Not my body, though I will indeed train that very hard, but my mind, to have absolute power over myself.

2007-08-01 12:19:01 GMT
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Eternal Traveler