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Neil’s solo China trip 2023

Two days of travel to arrive in Fuzhou.

I set off on October 2nd to China with a 7+ hour time difference ahead of the UK. The first day of jet lag, not too bad. The hotel was cheap but sadly the restaurant had gone since covid, so I was offered a KFC for breakfast! Hmmm… No thank you!

Learning a massage for a frozen shoulder at Lin Zhen Quan’s clinicFortunately, China has so many small restaurants close by, so it’s not a problem for me on my own, unlike travelling like normal, with a larger group of people.

Wednesday 4th

My morning starts unexpectedly, learning a massage for a frozen shoulder at Lin Zhen Quan’s clinic. We were met by Huang Zhen He, one of our kungfu brothers who acted as if he was injured for the morning. The level of Zhen Quan’s knowledge as a Chinese doctor, is truly amazing and we will be practicing the methods each day to ensure the information sinks in.

In the afternoon we went to the house of Hu Lau Zi, “Teacher Tiger.” He is one of only a few with a 9th Duan grade in China and at 91 he was quite the inspiration. After looking through the Dog Boxing book he said he would write a section endorsing its authenticity. We showed him our progress so far and had a fascinating time talking about history and martial arts in general.
The house of Hu Lau Zi, Teacher Tiger.Master Lin had not seen Hu Lau Zi for six years due to the covid pandemic, so they were extremely happy to meet up again.

The rest of the afternoon was spent visiting a local park and digesting what the day had offered so far.

Thursday 5th

Up for breakfast at 6:45am and then off to the training hall for the day.
It’s about a 40 minute walk to the hall, so it was a good way of getting the legs warmed up before training. To be honest, I thought we would be working a lot harder… but with the heat the Chinese are conservative in training and do a little, then drink tea. Then do some more, before more tea… However the chats are always interesting and lots of stories from the past come up. We mainly worked on some of the Sun and Moon routine improvements combined with a few other routines.
In China, it’s their holiday period, so people travel long distances to be with each other and
as a result, lots of meals and celebrations take place.

In the afternoon we did more work on the book at Master Lin’s home, ensuring all the details are correct and the Chinese to English translations are accurate.

Friday 6th

Training today, mostly working on binding and finishing an opponent quickly

A great morning of training today, mostly working on binding and finishing an opponent quickly alongside a few patterns. We also had a couple of young children Dog Boxers, who loved playing some ground games. Master Lin at 81 years young, took me down, applying the golden scissors method whilst creating more pain than anyone else. In the warm up, he joined in doing the butterfly legs. Truly amazing when not many 81 year olds can even get on and off the floor.

Walking back from training, it struck me that maybe because China has so many people in the city at one time; driving to work, using motor bikes, pedal bikes, strange vehicles or just walking, it all just makes them just get used to flowing around each other naturally to avoid constant collisions. They really do all flow so well together and to an outsiders eyes it just looks like chaos. This obviously flows into their martial arts practice from their day to day living.

Chatting ParkToday I had the whole afternoon off so I went to see the white and black pagodas and walked around the 3 Lanes, Seven Alleys area. This is a new building area, built from old parts of historical houses to look like an old Chinese town. Even the locals visit to hang out to eat or buy gifts. On the way home I found a new stunning park called Chatting Park.Working on book

Saturday 7th

Another day of training and today I started to learn the first 2 moves of the Ba Duan Jin “Eight Section Brocade.” This is the most practiced Qi Gong set in China. Like our Damo Qigong set, I can already see that the benefits of the practice will be good. We also worked on getting quality photos for the book. So again, lots of binding methods and working on refinement to make the moves effective in various ways. Some just to takedown and escape, others to lock and immobilise an opponent or to finish them as quickly as possible.

At 3pm we had a meeting with the Chinese government official for public relations…
As you do!


Sunday 8th

Today was a big day as it is Master Lin’s 81st Birthday.
It started as normal with training at 9am. However not many 81 year old people are still rolling on the floor and doing Kungfu… Master Lin truly is an inspiration to us all in keeping healthy.

This mornings surprise was the Fuzhou FZTV company arrived in full force and took over the whole training session. This could be a little annoying but is very good for promoting Dog Boxing and the book we have been working on in both languages.

Training with Master LinThey were very interested in the links of China and the Western worlds relations. Contrary to what we hear in the West, many of the people are actually very happy with China’s direction and how much better the lives of the citizens are today.
When asking about how life with covid was, I found out that most of China only shutdown for two days. Obviously, some cities like Shanghai had stricter lockdowns for a month with major problems. However, the locals said China just could not afford to lockdown due to the country’s economical factors supplying the world. They, like us, had restricted leisure time outside of work. We will be doing a television interview on the positive side that I see in China later in the week.

So just when we had eaten a massive Chinese hot pot meal, and I think all was done for the day….. Xang Yao called me to ask “Where are you Neil? We are all at the restaurant waiting for you!”
24 people had arrived for Master Lins birthday meal. Luckily a super quick change, a taxi and I was there in time for the start.

Master Lin's 81st birthday meal
Now seriously this was a table of high level masters. Many over 80 years and looking remarkably well. Amazing food, too many toasts of Bai Jiu to mention and a super fun time was had. All finished with a beer with my old friend Xiao Yi. We met him on our first trip and he is known as the “Naughty Monk”. Time to sleep before more training tomorrow.

Monday 9th

TVSo as good as all the cultural and TV stuff is… I actually come to train and improve on my knowledge of Dishu Quan (Dog Boxing) and my time is short in Fuzhou.
The film people needed a second day because they are making an extensive documentary on Dishu and the cultural links to the west learning Chinese kungfu. We covered many topics and the questions asked were also interesting to me. It struck me that when you get to the peoples’ level and not governmental issues, we all want the same thing.
“A good home, be healthy, food in our stomach’s, to be loved, have a purpose in life, friends and family to see and laugh with”.

I was asked why do I train kungfu?
My answer was kungfu gives me good mental health, good physical health. It makes me happy and this happiness spreads to the people I know and love around me. Martial arts gives us a routine of discipline, good time keeping, gives trust, good details and makes us achieve big things from all the small actions we do. It also makes us confident in ourselves and this in turn instills peoples confidence in us.

The documentary will be very good for Dishu QuanFinally, I get to meet like minded people in my training. Some stay for the life style journey,
some just make the journey fun
along the way.

I guess I am just lucky, I found my way.

The documentary will be very good for Dishu Quan and cultural links. So I look forward to seeing the programme when it’s done. I will also add the film crew who were particularly helpful and friendly, getting as much video footage and information to make the programme an interesting insight to my visits to Fuzhou.

Tuesday 10th

Another day of training. I arrived early as always after my 40 minute walk and practiced my Ba Duan Jin Qigong set. I am now five moves into the eight. Normally someone arrives just as I finish and most mornings I do at least 5 – 8 open hand routines before the class gets going. Needless to say I am well and truly warmed up. There is a reason we are instructors….

Master Lin arrived and all is relaxed,
or so I think?

Gan Shiguang the President of Fujian Martial Arts Association arrived and it’s very obvious he is a man very high up in the world of martial arts. Pleasantries were exchanged and one sip of tea, then I got the nod from Master Lin. It‘s time to show my kungfu to the main man.
I performed Qi Xing Duo Di “Seven stars fall to the ground” The stars did align because it felt like all the training paid off and I had a good mix of flow and power.

We demonstrated some binding methods and did a 4 person Sun and Moon routine together.
More tea and chat before Gan Shiguang takes his leave.

We will be meeting later for dinner at 5:30pm.
Quite the dinner it was again with many of the old school Dog boxers and other local style practitioners. A great night watching and chatting with everyone in a very natural way. The Fujian Wushu association has 40 styles and all are doing well.
The government even give the styles financial help to help them grow in the future.
They were super welcoming to me and are very supportive in spreading Chinese martial arts into the west.
We are invited to participate in an open international competition in the future.
Too many toasts of Bai Jiu to mention, but friendships bound even tighter.
A taxi home and sleep ready for the training tomorrow.

Wednesday 11th

Everyday I have been writing the book and it’s finally really starting to look like a proper book! That might sound strange but as a dyslexic person, I will be super proud to have achieved this and it has created quite a storm over here. Once home it will be the final bits of information to enter, then proof reading before going onto publication. We will be doing a Chinese version and because of the difference in text and Chinese characters the layout will be slightly different but the content the same.

I haven’t seen one Western person on my whole trip so far! No wonder I get some looks everyday.
“Look… outsider” is what most people say in Chinese and true… that is what I am.
Saying that every person I have met on this trip, from the airport, taxi drivers, people on the streets, governmental officials or kungfu brothers and sisters have all been super friendly and helpful.
The food is also delicious even if a few dishes are not quite like at home.

As far as training today it was non stop binding methods and one form. Then we visited Mr Pan at the very cool kungfu shop. The evening was a fun meal out with Master Lin’s daughter Hong, a cousin and a good friend of Zhen Quan’s. A stomach full of food, lots of laughter, plenty of kungfu and ready for sleep. How good can a day be.

Thursday 12th

Today is a sightseeing day, meeting with many of the dog boxing family and friends to visit Guling. This is a mountain that an American family settled at during the Opium trading period. The mountain is taller than Drum mountain that I have been to before but here you can drive to the top. It has many amazing walks and views. I really do feel on this trip I am one of the Fuzhou people doing what they like to do in their free time.

Visit Guling
The evening was the most crazy over the top stunning dinner, held with one of the most renowned calligraphy masters. They gave me a gift of his work from Master Lin’s words.

As ever this will be mounted in our Kungfu room as another reminder of this wonderful trip.

Friday 13th

The last day of training todayThe last day of training today, so off I go on my walk to the place of action. As ever I know I will miss the hustle and bustle of the town when back home, so I am going to savour all the smells and sights today.

I finished the Ba Duan Jin Qigong set and we worked on refining the details of how to blend the different moves together. Dog boxing was another session of doing lots of binding and I even learnt a few new methods. After so many years the learning new things is less but the knowledge and refinement becomes deeper. I also help the locals to improve and push their martial skills. They even recorded my forms to try and standardise the routines so we are all doing the same in China and the UK.

Yet another dinner followed….

Dog boxinBy the evening I didn’t eat or have breakfast as I feel, I have eaten my body weight in the last few days. I will say the hospitality and friendships have blown me away. So many welcoming people wishing us well in the West spreading Chinese martial arts. They really do work together to all improve and not lose their heritage.

I feel very proud to be able to do my part and pass it on in our classes and for the next generations.

Saturday 14th

Time for the long trip home and teaching my own classes the day after I get back….

See you next year Fuzhou and thank you to all the locals and of course the Lin family 🙏🙏🙏

Roll on next year for trip number 22 to China!

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