Finally I get to experience the last of the Rising Dragon school Malevolent Myths and Looming legends.
For the last two weeks all I have heard about is pupils who have been screaming and reduced to tears by this medieval form of muscle torture.
There is a lot of stretching involved in Shaolin anway – every day after each run we push ourselves intoo the splits and box splits, opening our thighs, trying to bend our torsos onto our knees.
"Does it hurt – are you ok" asks Ferdinand after he's pushed my resistant hips towards the ground in the box splits for this morning's warm up.
"I don't really know what o.k is any more I say - everything always hurts and I'm constantly in pain but it didn't feel like you did any permanent damage if that's any good" I reply...
Shaolin stretching is the same but it is the Master – in this case Wong – who pushes you into a position you never thought it capable your body could do and then holds you there until you cry, vomit or promise to do something else.
"You will never know pain like it!" – Patrice has assured me.
Brilliant. Can't wait.
"Don't even look man – don't even look because if you see what shape your body is being contorted into...:
Luckily I don't get Wong – although I have a feeling he'd go easy on me.
I have Talele and Alison. I have still pulled the tendon in my right leg so they just stretch the left leg. I lie flat on my back, Talia sits on my right leg to keep it still and Alison pulls my left leg up and starts to bend it forward towards my head. She pushes it forward until I don't think it can go any more.
"Remember i'm OLD!" I exclaim – age really is a factor here and not just an excuse – you loose a degree of flexibility when you are no longer in your teens and early twenties.
"Yeah – you are only a few years older than me" – says Alison.
Then she pushes it down towards my head some more. It hurts - I start to whimper.
"Breathe" – says Talele gently.
She pushes more and I start gasping.
" Just breathe in and breathe out" says Talia in an incredibly soothing voice. I do and she pushes a little more – my knee is i'm sure perilously close to my face – and then she stops.
Well I don't think I've done too badly – we've helped each other. The women's corner is so gentle, hushed and supportive.
Unlike I hasten to add the excruciating screams of agony coming from the boys. Anyone would think they were being racked!
It is a well known fact that women have a higher threshold for tolerating pain than men and if ever I needed proof this was it. Our female corner is a gentle soothing mix of hushes, whispers and the odd "well done, good job."
The end of the week comes and on Thursday it is sparring day again. In the morning we practise take downs and for a laugh Ferdinand (nickname “the Juggernaut”) says "Come on Dominique practise on me "
Which I do for the amusement of all. In the afternoon I spar with Camille but its somehow more difficult than trying to beat up her brother Felix. I don't want to hurt her and she me. Everytime one of us throws a punch we follow it by stopping and going
“oh i'm sorry are you ok?”
"Yes i'm ok are you ok?"
“everyone sorry -everyone ok now fight!” says Wong.
Camille gets a few good take downs on me and wins which is fine in my book.
It's been a tough week – in a perverse kind of way I find myself looking foward to doing the Tianing run again tomorrow as a bit of light relief.
What kind of universe do I live in when I now look forward to attempting to run a half marathon as a bit of light relief.
Everyone always prays for rain on the day of the Taining Run -but somehow I know i'm not going to get lucky twice in a row and sure enough when I awake the sky is pearly and clear. Scott is doing a morning circuit and has been known to make students go for a run and do a legs circuit even when they then have to run another 23k but luckily today he's feeling magnanimous and asks us which we'd prefer – so we all opt for plank exercises.
Just before 9am and the sky is bright blue, the sun is shining, it must be at least 35 degrees and we are ready to start. Its a scorcher. I get Blackeyed Peas on the ipod – thank goodness for Will.I.Am if only i'd known in Vegas how important his music was going to become to me I coud have thanked him personally. This time I know the way – I get going and I have a target to keep running until the shop at the halfway point – which I succeed in. So now i've run 13k without stopping. I then push myself to walk and run the rest and get to the meeting point in just over 3 hours! The boys – Sergei and Don have managed it in just under 2 hours -but hey i'm still pleased with my personal achievement – and I haven't got lost!
I can hardy walk – the meeting place is Dicos - China's answer to KFC – I am famished – my body wants everything! I have some chicken nuggets and a coke follwed by a orange juice an ice cream and then some teriyaki chicken and rice.
This afternoon I have to do a visa run to a little island off Taiwan. To cut a long and complicated story short – I only have 2 x 30 day entries on my visa so must leave the country and come back in this weekend to stay at the school. I'm going to Xiamen with another English girl called Emily and James and Luke who have decided to just visit the seaside harbour town of Xiamen for a little holiday whilst at the school.
So after run/walking for 23k I take my poor hobbled body and put it on another chinese bus to cramp up in a sedentary position for a 10 hour journey..