Sunday, March 22, 2009

VS Wushu Team: Beijing Training Trip (Day 9-Return to Singapore)

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Thank you all parents who met us at the airport yesterday night.
We have all arrived back safetly in Singapore.
I would like to thank Mr Tan Ngan Boon was assisting in securing the clearance permits from A&E to expedite the customs clearance for our equipement

Thanks to the Png family, the Ang family, Hung Family, Tan family and Teo family for helping to transport equipment and boys back to school.

This trip could not have been possible without the support of the parents.
I hope the boys have thanked you on their return. I know I'm starting to nag alot (I think signs of old age) but it is important for all Victorians to be grateful because none of us make our successes in life on our own.

We have a tough month ahead of us, but I am sure that we can do it
So boys, you all know what we have to do in the following weeks, right?
You must .....
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VS Wushu Team: Beijing Training Trip (Day 9-Breakfast with Wang Brothers)

On our last day in Beijing, the Wang brothers, Master Wang Shangzhi and Wang Shangxin, invited us to visited their restaurant at Beijing Palace.

It was our last day in Beijing and time was short, so we only managed to take a few pictures with them. But the conversation was good and it was rewarding to touch base with respected seniors in the martial arts community.

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We covered everything from martial ethics, to chinese history, to medicine!
Thank you both, Master Wang Shang Zhi and Master Wang Shang Xin for making our last morning in Beijing such a memorable one.

Friday, March 20, 2009

VS Wushu Team: Beijing Training Trip (Final Training Session and Certificate Presentation)

This afternoon was our final session with Coach Yang Yongli and the young students under him.

Shi Cha Hai Sports School prepared certificates of completion for each of the boys:
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We invited Coach Yang to give away the certificates of achievement:

Prior to the trip I had also prepared some medals for the boys to reward their hard work. We also had 4 Special Awards to give away:
Kong Wei Chung was awarded the Spartan Award for best effort and determination
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Our Myanmar wushu warrior, Saw Eh Tha Khu aka Xiao Qiang was awarded our medal for Most Improved Athlete:
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In terms of overall skill and achievement, the Overall Best Athlete award, without a doubt, goes to Fung Jin Jie for his ability to perform well and above expectations in his Wushu training:
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Finally, our Special Effort Award goes to Team Captain Ryan Goh, who continually pushed himself in training, as well as supervising the team during their self-study time, assisting with the administration. Ryan is the most well-rounded team member, learning and gaining competency in Routines, Sparring and Lion Dance.
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Here, we see Coach Yang presenting our special awards to the recipients:

It has been a great training trip and cultural learning experience for us.
We will be leaving Shi Cha Hai Sports School tomorrow and will be back in Singapore at 10.25pm on SQ805.

We do not train for fame, nor do we train for reward- we train in order that we may fight to become true Gentlemen, Professionals and Sportsmen.
我们不争名, 不争利--维中武术队只争气!

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See you all back in Singapore!

Visit to Beijing Tie Lu Hospital

While in Beijing, Sifu and I managed to visit his Senior, Dr Ge Feng Lin (葛凤麟).
Sifu Loh was a formal disciple of Dr Ge Chang Hai (葛长海) in Ge-Style Tendon Pinching 葛氏捏筋.

We had the chance to visit Dr Ge Feng Lin at Beijing TieLu Hospital:
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We were also invited to his home to visit Dr Ge's mother and family:
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VS Wushu Team: Beijing Training Trip (Day 8)

This is our last day of training and we hope that the boys will be able to give off their best.

We will be giving out certificates of participation and performance awards later in the day. I have been closely monitoring the boys performances with our 2 coaches and we will give awards for Best Athlete, Most Improved Athlete, Special Effort Award and Spartan Award.

From this clip, can you tell who our likely recipients are?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

VS Wushu Team: Beijing Training Trip (Wang Fu Jin)

Tonight we went to Wang Fu Jin, Beijing's equivalent of Singapore's Orchard Road.

Each time I visit Beijing, I always visit Wang Fu Jin- there are 2 places that I always go to.
1) The Foreign Language Bookshop where you can buy a lot of good English translations of Chinese Books- including Wushu and Medical texts

2) The Night Market Street where you have grilled lamb skewers and other exotic stuff, like silkworm cocoons, spiders, crickets and scorpions.

That is a must for me each time there. So tonight, like the typical Singaporean, I eat to my hearts content
So here's a look at my supper treat:
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My biggest treat for myself during the cold Beijing night was a nice, deep fried scorpion.
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Yup and I ate it all by myself too!

I treated the boys to caramel fruits- check out the size of the strawberries from Xinjiang!
The boys have worked hard and tomorrow we will have our last day of training. So a small treat to reward them :)
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

VS Wushu Team: Beijing Training Trip (Dinner with China Wushu Coaches)

Tonight, we had the honour of meeting up with esteemed members of the Chinese Wushu fraternity.

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Seated in the centre is Wu Bin. Presently, Wu Bin is the president of the Beijing Wushu Institute, the director of the Beijing Wushu Team, as well as holding top positions in the Chinese Wushu Association, Asian Wushu Federation, and the International Wushu Federation. He was responsible for discovering Jet Li and developing him into the champion athelete that he claimed 5 consecutives All-Round Men's titles in Wushu.

Standing on the extreme left is Xu Xiangdong, famous for his Eagle Claw.
In the in-flight movie, Champions that we saw on the way here, it was him that acted as the 'villian' in the movie.

Second from left is Dr Wang Man Cheng, Chinese Physician. He spent several years in Singapore and has helped in the rehab and treatment of several wushu athletes.

Standing in the centre is Coach Loh Poh Swee, next to him is me and Coach Di.

It certainly was a fruitful trip for us all to meet and exchange views with esteemed members of the Wushu fraternity in Beijing, China.

VS Wushu Team: Beijing Training Trip (Visit to Great Wall)

Today, we are at the mid-point of our training trip to Beijing. Another couple of days and we will be back home.

But no trip to Beijing, China would be complete without visiting the Great Wall.

It was a long and difficult climb with inclines of close to 80 degrees on some slopes but our boys pushed on gamely

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At the top of our climb:
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Here we see, Coach Loh and Coach Di fighting it out to reach the top of our climb :)
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Here you see Master and student, fighting for tradition and our heritage
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I'm also getting some pointers here from Big Brother, Di Guangwen:
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All 3 Coaches at the end of our climb (there is more to go but if we continue to climb, by tommorrow also cannot finish)
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Through the entire climb, due respect must go to Coach Loh, our oldest member. He's close pushing to 60 and yet he was ahead of all of us on the climb up and the climb down. Shows that the hard work training he put in in his youth to perfect his art and skill has been kept with him till now.

So to all the boys, now that you have finished your climb up the Great Wall, you are considered 'Heroes' 好汉

So B-Division older boys, lead your juniors to greater heights of excellence:
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C-Div boys, strive to keep the tradition alive and to match up to the example set by your seniors, always seeking to surpass them.
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Train hard, work hard and perservere
but before that I will allow you all to take a short nap on our way back:)
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VS Wushu Team: Beijing Training Trip (Day 6)

Today morning, we woke up bright and early at 6.30am
Yup 6.30am
Yes, it's not a typo. All our cheeky VS boys woke up right on time at 6.30am to go for morning jog here in the cold morning.

The boys are starting to push themselves more independently now. Yesterday, we put in an extra one hour after dinner and some of them even stayed back to train on their own as well as coming to my room to work with me and Coach Loh.

They were equally ready to wake up early this morning for an early run. We did a few laps around the track and worked on some basic warm-up exercises.
We also wanted them to work on team-work and co-operation. Here they are doing jumping jacks without counting so that they can build team-awareness.

After our morning run today, we had a hardy breakfast and proceeded for training.
We have been working hard on our Group Routines, today we all focused on our Individual Routines.

We can see great improvement from all the boys- even those who are not competing in Individual routines are pushing themselves by revising their own material and forms.

We are now halfway through our training journey and the boys are doing well.
Some minor blisters and discomfort, some have sore throat and slight fever but between me and Coach Loh, our certified Chinese Physician, all are doing fine now.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

VS Wushu Team: Beijing Training Trip (Student Interaction and Interviews)

Today after our noon training session, Coach Yang gave us some time to interact with his students after training.

Although, the boys were shy initially, they soon started talking and started sharing their experiences with each other.

We ended the session with a group photo of all our students.
The boys are starting to pick up the pace- although we still need to give them constant reminders and the occasional reprimand.
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But as long as we can keep our eyes on the final goal, we know that all this hardship is worth it

VS Wushu Team: Beijing Training Trip (Day 5)

It's day 5 of our trip since we departed Singapore on Friday.

We began our days training again under the guidance of Coach Yang Yongli. Today, he paid special attention to our moving postures:

After Coach Yang finished, our VS coaches took over again to refine our Group Events.

Here we have a good example of the new and old generation of wushu exponents working together to preserve our martial heritage. Working with the C-Boys for their Group Dagger Routine is Coach Loh Poh Swee, who is a Chinese Physician and an experience Sanda Referee and Lion Dance Coach; working with the B-Boys is Coach Di Guangwen, Men's Changquan World Champion.

Coach Loh and Coach Di have been working hard to train our boys, so that they enjoy the best of experience of 2 generations wushu exponents.

So parents, rest assured that they are in good hands and working hard:)
Hugs and kisses to you all at home!

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Monday, March 16, 2009

VS Wushu Team: Beijing Training Trip (Tour to Bei Hai Park)

After a long training day, we went to visit Bei Hai Park to take a walk to relax and stroll away the days tension.

We took time to talk amongst ourselves and stroll amidst Bei Hai Park.

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May the days ahead bring us growth in training, maturity in character and strength in character.

VS Wushu, jiayou!!!

VS Wushu Team: Beijing Training Trip (Day 4)

Today was our first day training with wushu athletes of the SCH Sports School. We were led by Coach Yang.
When we started out our warm-ups, I was already impressed with the dedication and self-motivation of the group. With hardly a word from Coach Yang, the youngsters started on a comprehensive series of warm-ups:

This to them is just basic warm-ups-- 基本功 but the level at which they do the basics is astounding. As they did their butterfly jumps and progressed into 540 and 720 turns, it was obvious that there is a huge gap between them and even our national team athletes. Just take a look.

But when the turn on the pressure, then we really, really see what 'professional' means. Our boys struggled to keep up but it is obvious that even for those in our team that have gone for selection at a National level in Singapore that we are no where near them. Check out their 旋风腿- this is a basic jumping kick seen in Changquan but look at the finese that these kids execute. Even our own VS warrior, Jingo was speechless:

But I haven't told you the whole truth yet- these athletes are 3 tier athletes.
First tier athletes are Beijing state representatives, 2nd tier athletes are vying for places in the first team and can compete if there are vacancies.
3rd tier athletes are not good enough to represent state for competition.
Yup. These are only 3rd tier athletes who are going through their daily routine.
You take any of these kids, on any day, blind fold him, send him for competition here in Singapore and he'll still 'own' all of the kids in his age group.

Lest I be seen as pessimistic and discouraging, I'm not. One of the most obvious difference between our Singaporean VS students and the Chinese here, is not skill. While that difference is apparent and obvious, what is really different is their attitude.
No need for Coach to shout, cajole, scold. Just a firm instruction and they literally 'own time, own target'.
No one tells their coach there that he doesn't feel like training cos no mood.
No one sits down on their backside and chat while Coach is training someone else- they are always moving and working
No one slacks. There was no single 'slacker' in the class

You know why?
Because first tier athletes have better living conditions and better food- you get the chicken breast and drumstick
2nd tier athletes stay in more crowded conditions and eat normal food- you get the chicken wingl
3rd tier athletes stay in bunk beds and eat...- well, they get the chicken backside.
Sounds funny? But it's true. You fight for everything you want here. You prove your worth because only then can you claim your entitlement. In a way, this is meritocracy at its best.

So what am I hoping and trying to say here? Boys, when you read this back in Singapore after our trip, know that while you envy your Chinese friends; it is you who are the priviledge lot-- you can always choose to quit wushu, because it is only a CCA. You have your parents to fall back on, to provide for you, to make it easy for you to pursue your interest in Wushu or any other pursuit.
But for these kids, wushu is their life- it is all or nothing for them.
So in the words of our ex-Victorian, President Nathan:
"Be Kind, Be Grateful and Be Engaged"

Be kind to your team-mates because you can never succeed alone
Be grateful to your parents, you owe everything you have to them
Be engaged in whatever you do so that you can be something more.

One day, when your achievements are embossed in stone for all the world to see, like Coach Di, I will be the happiest teacher in Singapore.
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(Can you find Coach Di Guangwen's name here on the Board of Fame?)

VS Wushu Team: Beijing Training Trip (Beijing Duck @ Quan Ji De)

Tonight, I treated the boys to Beijing Duck at Quan Ji De.
It's a long standing establishment open since 1864!

It's a traditional Beijing dining house where you can have your meal and enjoy cultural performances at the same time.
Here, we see the art of tea pouring- a unique performance where the simple act of serving tea is transformed into a demonostration of skill and finese--- looks a lot like wushu too, right?

Of course, the dinner would not be complete without Beijing Duck, right?
So here, we go with our Beijing Duck served piping hot to our table!

Quan Ji De prides itself so much on the authenticity of the duck it serves, that each roast comes with a certificate! Yup, a cert for eating a duck.
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Wah... Shiok sia... now you know what the original taste like, you won't settle for anything less.
Go back Singapore, when I eat Katong Laksa, I'm gonna ask them for cert too!

Our dinner was graced by the presence of several dignitaries from the martial arts community.
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Seated at the extreme right, we see my own teacher and one of our VS Coaches, Dr Loh Poh Swee. On the extreme left, we can see our other VS Coach, Di Guang Wen.

Next to him is Mdm Mi Jin Pei, a senior student of Master Sun Zhi Jun, seated next to her on the right. Master Sun is the lineage holder of Chen-Style Bagua and has come to Singapore on several occasions to teach and hold seminars. I spent some time learning the Bagua Pen from Mdm Mi but my clumsiness made it difficult for me to become competent in it-- have to work harder now :)

Next to Master Sun, we have Master Wang Shang Zhi and his wife.
Master Wang and his brother, Wang Shang Xin are lineage holders of the Yin-Style of Bagua. A group of adults were priviledged to be taught by him and his brother while they were in Singapore. During a reccent competition, one of the members in our informal training group, Lawrence Lee performed the Yin Fu Bagua form and recieved a Gold medal for his award. On behalf of Lawrence and all the other students, I presented the Gold medal to Master Wang and his brother in honor of their generous teaching.

The boys came in to greet the various elders and teachers and spent some time talking to them. It is good for the younger generation to get to know the elders well- it is only through this constant building of rapport that we can bridge the generation gap and ensure that the art flourishes on into the next generation.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

VS Wushu Team: Beijing Training Trip (Visit to Bird's Nest Stadium and Water Cube Aquatic Centre)

In the afternoon, we visited the Water Cube Aquatic Centre and Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium.

Here we are on our way to but tickets for our entrance to the stadiums:

At the Water Cube, we saw the need vast swimming complex:

Coach Loh and me really enjoyed ourselves there seeing how China has envisioned and constructed its sporting facilities:
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Next we visited the Bird's Nest Stadium, it was HUGE!!!!

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Wah, if one day the boys can perform here... then VS Wushu will really go down in history, man! What a dream, right?

We're on our way to eat Roast Beijing Duck dinner now- my treat to the boys:)!

VS Wushu Team: Beijing Training Trip (Day 3)

We have come to our 3 Day of the Beijing Trip.
Today we woke up bright and early and had our second training session at one of the underground sports hall.

Today's training was more intense as the boys were more acclimatised to the weather.
It's 17 degrees, so it is cool without being cold and this allows us to train harder without tiring.
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We managed to put the finishing touches on all our group events. After that we had our lunch and in the afternoon we will be touring the Bird's Nest Stadium and Aquatic Centre.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

VS Wushu Team: Beijing Training Trip- Compulsory Self Study

Hi parents,
As discussed prior to the trip, we set clear expectations for the Wushu Boys before heading off on the trip. As our focus is on training to prepare for competition, we also wanted the boys to spend more time to catch up on their holiday homework to ensure that they will not be stressed by homework and studies as competition date draws nearer.

Thus, once we have time during this trip, I will actually schedule time for rest and study. This morning after our initial tour of the school and shopping in Xiu Shui Jie in the afternoon, we returned for dinner.

The boys have been their playful and mischievous selves all this time but have also been very well behaved and it is my pleasure to be able to lead them on such a journey.

Tonight, as I assigned them their study duties and made my rounds, I was pleasantly surprised that all of them were really engaged in their own roomds, hard at work.

It's good to see all of the boys having fun and yet taking our instructions seriously. This means they are slowly maturing into Gentlemen and that is what martial arts training is all about

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I'll spend some time going through reflections with them at the end of the day and will organise some games for them in the room. We will aim to sleep early at 10pm tonight before waking for breakfast tomorrow at 7.00am

I will update again as and when I can.

VS Wushu Team: Touring ShiChaHai Sports School

After breakfast, we began touring ShiChaHai Sports School.

It is a impressive, modern facility with well provisioned space and equipment for the training of elite athletes.
Here we see the Sanda Tem (Full-Contact Fighters) Training

They are one of professional teams maintained and housed here at ShiChaHai. These are basically members of the Beijing Sanda Team

Another professional team housed on the campus is the Boxing Team. Those were the guys we saw doing their early morning laps. Here we see their training arena:

There is also a well-equipped modern gym that is open to public on weekends.

Next we saw one of the wushu training groups in the basement of the stadium. Their training areas are really well thought out and are structured to all for viewing by public as well as provisioned with lots of space.

This is one of the training areas we will have the priviledge to train in during the days to come.

But what really showed us the toughness and resiliency of the students here was witnessing the children's gymnastics class.
Their discipline and hard-work without complaint at that age is really something we need to emulate

Just look at the end of the clip and you can see the young boys holding themselves in handstand position on their own.

Hope this will inspire our boys to perservere and train hard in the week to come.

VS Wushu Team: Beijing Training Trip- Rooming Arrangements!

Hi Parents, I know many of you are worried about the rooming arrangements for your sons, so here are pics of them in their rooms.
They are staying 2 to a room but some of them are spending time with their friends in these pictures so you see more than 2 in each room.

Here we see John, Darren, Yuda and Wei Chung in their most favourite place:
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Our 2 well-behaved boys, Kang Jie and Nicholas- Can you figure out who's leg is that stick out?.....
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Our two sleepy heads, Howard and Saw still looking forward to sleep:
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Our team Captain Ryan with Lloyd, Jingwei and Samuel:
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Here's a view of my room and some activities we can see from the window.
Our floor directly overlooks the track and we can see some of the professional teams starting their morning workout (I believe it's the men's boxing team doing their laps)