A Shaolin Temple Perspective.

Suzanne's Story:2001

Hello, my Shaolin friends.  I was with Doc and his group this last August when we went to train at Shaolin with his master, Shi De Cheng. I was the only female in the group, but the group survived anyway. Altogether I spent three weeks there in training and can honestly say that it was one of the richer experiences that I have had in my life. Doc has asked my training companions and me to write about our experiences over there for him to post on his website.

The Journey

The trip over there was long and fairly uneventful. There were, however, a couple of noteworthy things that happened during the voyage. First, I saw some of the most magnificent cloud formations that I have ever seen in my life during this trip. On the way from Shanghai to Zhengzhou, just after our jet was leaving the Shanghai area, the pilot had to swerve around and between some huge, thousands-of-feet-tall cumulonimbus cloud columns. It was spectacular! The sky was clear and bright otherwise, so the sun on the cloud columns made them look all that much more magnificent. I felt like Peter Pan. It was a sight that I won’t soon forget.

I got a special treat in Shanghai on my way back out of the country, too. I stayed in a hotel there for one night before catching my trans-pacific flight back to the States the next afternoon. I knew that there was McDonald’s just down the street and around the corner from my hotel. So I walked down to it when, to my utter delight, I saw another familiar icon right next to it. It was a Pizza Hut! Furthermore, I knew that my hotel room had a mini refrigerator in it, so I could eat what I wanted that evening and keep the leftovers in the fridge to eat for breakfast and lunch the next day. It was great after three weeks of nothing but Chinese food. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven! The pizza was really quite good and the same as that found in Pizza Huts in the States, other than the fact that the sauce wasn’t as robust and it didn’t have olives on it. Still, it was pizza, and good pizza at that.

As for the road journey between Zhengzhou and Dengfeng, I can only say that Chinese drivers are every bit as insane as they’re reputed to be. I only have one piece of advice for anyone else who takes the journey--never look ahead out the front of the car at what’s coming at you. You can’t do anything about stopping it from happening anyway, so you might as well die in peace rather than screaming your head off (The same goes for riding in tuk tuks...). The highway from Zhengzhou to Dengfeng is a nicely paved one, it’s just that there’s all kinds of bizarre traffic on it. People, cows, two-cycle tractor engines with trailers, World War II model Russian Army coal trucks, busses, and bicyclists all travel on it, and all at different speeds. I have no idea why they even bother painting lines on the road. Maybe they’re just a suggestion and/or decoration.

Life in Dengfeng

While we were there, we stayed in at the Feng Yuan Hotel in Dengfeng city. Dengfeng is a pretty good-sized town with a population of 90,000 that lives within the city and 600,000 if you include the surrounding area. The Feng Yuan is a fairly reasonably decent hotel, which gives you your choice of three different buildings to stay in, ranging from oldest to newest and least to most expensive depending on what your budget is. I ended up staying in building two, which is the second oldest of the three. It wasn’t all that bad, about like a WWII era home in the States would be--not new, but livable. We did have two power outages while I was there, both during lightning storms, but I had taken a flashlight with me, so I was okay. The food there was okay with a buffet available for 20 yuan ($2.50 US) per person per meal. The food was your typical Chinese stir-fry meat and vegetables stuff, etc.  When we didn’t eat there, we ate at a restaurant across the street from the Feng Yuan, where Doc teased the waitresses absolutely mercilessly! (I doubt that surprises anyone…) Our favorite treat was deep-fried chicken wings, Ji Chibang, at least when they weren’t out of them.

Just across the street from the Feng Yuan there is a small Internet café where we could use the computers and Internet there for 2 yuan per hour, or $.25. That was how I stayed in touch with my friends and family back home while I was there.  It occurred to me while I was there just how much the entire world benefits from the influence of American technology. For thousands of years the world has been run by animal and human power. Now technology such as automobiles, jetliners, cell phones, modern medicine, computers, and the Internet is pouring out of the US and flooding the world, including China. Home for me while I was there was never any further away than right across the street. It hit me again my first night back home. A few times during the night I woke up and thought I was still in China. Then I remembered that I was back home again. I thought about the fact that 24 hours before I had been in Shanghai, China. Now, literally one day later, I was home safe and sound in my own bed, and I had made the journey in upholstered, climate-controlled, catered, and entertained comfort.  We are so fortunate to live in this era!

There was some chaos in the Shaolin Village while I was there, but I was far removed from it since I stayed and trained in Dengfeng city rather than in the Shaolin Village. Some of the more ugly buildings in the immediate (100 yards) vicinity of the Shaolin Temple were razed, but the nicer-looking ones were left intact. There were no protests this time, and the grapevine has it that the former occupants of the demolished buildings either have or will receive assistance in relocating. I'm okay with that as long as they receive reasonable relocation assistance. The area around the Shaolin Temple did look pretty shabby and did need to be cleaned up. It definitely hasn’t been an appropriate environment for a Buddhist temple of global renown. Until this measure was taken, there were literally farm animals running around just outside the red walls of the Shaolin Temple, leaving feces and urine behind them for people to have to step in.

The Locals

Any time we went to practice in the park, we always attracted an audience of the locals who came over and sat down to watch us. I learned to tune them out, but they were kind of fun. And sometimes I intentionally played to my audience, especially the children.

Granny was what we named the elderly Chinese woman who showed up to our practices in the park on numerous occasions to collect our emptied water bottles from us. Apparently they can collect them and turn them in for money just like we can collect aluminum cans. She would sit as close to us as she dared while we were practicing, then watch us like a hawk to see when we were about to finish off a bottle. When she could see that we were drinking that bottle’s last swig, she would walk over to us before it was even empty and all but snatch the emptied bottle out of our hands to stuff in her bag when we were finished. A few times we toyed with the idea of teasing her by drinking our bottles down to less than half an inch of water, then not finish them off just to taunt her. But we never did carry out our pernicious little plan.

Then there was the “Buffet Queen of the Feng Yuan”. One day three of us were having lunch at the Feng Yuan’s buffet, when a Chinese businesswoman—slightly on the larger side--came and sat down with us at our table to eat her lunch.  She didn’t say anything to us, so we watched in disbelief while she went back and forth from the table to the buffet line at least five times to load up on food to bring back to the table to eat.  By the time she was finished going back and forth, she had at least seven plates or bowls full of food in front of her. We then continued to watch in disbelief as she devoured all of it in one sitting, including one plate alone that had four bananas on it. When she was finished, there was only one banana peel left on her plate. We’re not sure exactly what happened to the other three peels. Maybe she was extra hungry that day.

The Wildlife (No, I’m not referring to going on a trip with Doc…)

There's some interesting wildlife over there.  We usually practiced in a park across the street to the south of Master De Cheng's Kung fu school. Every time we went to the park to practice, the air was filled with dragonflies and the trees all had huge (1-2 inch long) and loud cicada beetles in them.  They would all start to buzz at the same time.  I guess one starts singing which cues the others to chime in also. When we were practicing, Xing Wei would find them in the trees, then use the tip of a kung fu spear to poke them and make them fly away. It was amusing.

One evening Master De Cheng and we were practicing in the park at dusk when I

noticed some dark-colored birds flying around. Then I noticed something else.  These so-called "birds" were doing a little too much flapping and not enough soaring. They were also making a few too many sudden 90 degree turns mid-flight. They weren't birds at all. They were bats, which had come out at nightfall to hunt for flying insects. Then they started swooping down closer and closer to us on the ground.  A few times they swooped down so low that I could have swatted them out of the air with my hand.  I got a pretty good look at some of them. A few of them had as much as a 9-inch wing span. That's pretty big as far as bats go.

Then there was Mary. Allow me to explain. One of the members of our group opted to stay in the oldest building at the Feng Yuan to save money. One night he had to get up at 3 AM to use the facilities. He heard some scratching on the bathroom door, when in walked a huge rat.  He says he screamed like a little girl, and the rat ran out. We officially dubbed the rat Mary and decided that he should take his new little roommate home with him. We’re not sure how he got her through US Customs, though. Come to think of it, we’re not sure that she’s even a she…

The landscaping in China is pretty good, too.  If there's one thing the Chinese know how to do, it's ornamental gardening. There was some pretty magnificent stuff over there that way. Also, just outside my hotel room window was a large courtyard where the Feng Yuan Hotel grew all of the potted ornamental plants that they used to decorate the front steps of the hotel. It was really pretty. Some of the guys in our group also told me that they saw some wild marijuana growing at one of the locations where we were practicing, but I don’t know whether or not that was true.

Master Shi De Cheng

Master Shi De Cheng was born as Chen Qingzhen to a family of devout Buddhists. If you want to see a nice picture of him on-line, go to www.SDCshaolin-kungfu.com. His Buddhist name of De Cheng, received upon taking his vows as a monk, was given to him by his master, the late Shi Su Yun, who was one of the original 13 monks who returned to restore Shaolin after the Cultural Revolution. There is a statue of him there. Master De Cheng tells me that Master Su Yun doesn’t yet have a pagoda in the Forest of Pagodas, but that one is planned to be built for him in the next few years. Being a monk from the Shaolin Temple, Master De Cheng was able to take our group on a tour of it and show us things that we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to see on the usual tour.

Master De Cheng began his kung fu training at the age of six, came to Shaolin as a teenager, and continues practicing daily to this day at the age of 36. He gets up every morning at 5 AM to worship and meditate for an hour (Even when he travels, which he does quite often, he takes a small Buddha statue with him to use for worship while he’s on the road). After that, he works out for a few hours, including running half-way up the nearby mountain, which he does year-round, including in the dead of the bitterly cold and humid winter over there. He is considered by many to be one of Shaolin’s best martial experts, and until he opened his own kung fu school in Dengfeng in February of this year, 2001, was one of the head full-time coaches at the Shaolin Temple Wushuguan. He says that he has a room where he can sleep at all three locations: the Shaolin Temple, the Wushuguan, and now his own kung fu school.

I would consider Master De Cheng to be a jack of all trades. By that I mean that he is an expert in all aspects of the Shaolin tradition--kung fu, Buddhism, meditation, and qi gong. Many of the monks only specialize in one or two areas, but he has mastered all of them, and continues to seek further mastery. For instance, while I was there, one of the academic teachers at his school came down with a pretty bad migraine, which she apparently gets about once per week. I had the opportunity to watch Master De Cheng apply acupressure techniques that he had learned from his qi gong training to cure her of it. She says that she felt much better afterwards.

I wish you all could see this guy. One day when he was teaching three of us in the Feng Yuan’s 4th floor exercise room, he started doing all sorts of acrobatics, back flips, back summersaults, etc. Then he went into a hand stand and literally started jumping up and down on his hands like that. Then he went into right, left, and center splits without even batting an eye. These guys are so incredibly skilled, strong, and flexible! Another time we were practicing in the park with him, and we sat down on the ground to talk for a while during one of our breaks. Unfortunately the grass wasn’t very soft at all. In fact, it was like sitting on needles. Despite that, Master De Cheng took his slippers off and started running around barefoot on it like that. He also let us take pictures of him bending over while standing up and literally touching his forehead to his shins, or touching his nose to his toes when he was stretching out. I wish I could have videotaped it, but because of some problems that some other people have caused by misusing videos that they’ve taken over there, they’ve had to establish a policy against it.

Master De Cheng has a phenomenal memory. He has a mental vocabulary of 86 different Shaolin forms at any given time, knows all the versions and variations of every one of them, and accurately. He’s considered by many of the other monks to be a walking encyclopedia of Shaolin kung fu. He also knows a smattering of at least six different languages, most of them European, enough to teach class and be functional in each language. I heard several languages spoken every day over there. During my visit, Master De Cheng's hosted and trained students from the US, Argentina, Italy, and France. By the time I left, his brain was so tied in knots from all the different languages he had to use that his sentences were a mish-mash of English, Chinese, Spanish, and Italian. I felt sorry for him, but it was still hilarious. He actually did very well communicating for himself despite it all.

He’s also a master pantomime. He’s perfected the art of voiceless communication from years of travel abroad, primarily in Europe, where he’s had to work with persons who speak many different languages. While we were there on this trip, he managed to tell us at least two complete stories, almost entirely in pantomime. One of them was about a bank robbery that occurred in Dengfeng about a year before the trip, during which someone was killed. The police had since caught the man who did it, and had him in custody and on public display for a public example before he was executed for murder. A lot of the school kids in the area were going to see him in his cell that day. The other story that he told us, completely in pantomime, was that he had been so busy all summer that he was completely drained and needed to plug himself into a cell phone charger to charge himself back up. It was pretty funny the way he portrayed it at the time.

And yet, despite his obvious fatigue, which peaks during the summertime when the majority of his foreign students come there to train, he still takes as much time as he can to focus as much individualized attention as he can on his students. He didn’t just show up to class, bark a bunch of orders at us, then disappear after class was over. Even if he’s tired, he still sticks around for at least a little while after class to take time to just talk to his students about whatever they want to talk about. He isn’t just your coach. He’s your friend. He's very funny, friendly, patient, loving, humble, and caring. He tries as best he can to care for us like a parent.

De Cheng is amazingly aware of and considerate of other people’s feelings, whether they state them or not.  Having been thoroughly trained in the mental aspects of Shaolin kung fu, he’s also very in tune with what all is going on in other people’s minds around him. I got invited to a few lunch appointments with Master De Cheng’s friends while I was over there. Personally, I usually don’t enjoy such occasions because of all the smoking, drinking, and bizarre and boisterous drinking games that usually occur at such times. The men often challenge each other to play this numbers game with their hands that’s something like rock/paper/scissors, and the loser has to drink. It can get really loud and obnoxious. They also tend to all light up and smoke as part of the social customs for meals among Chinese businessmen, which usually take place within private enclosed rooms, and I really can’t handle cigarette smoke.

I was with De Cheng and his friends on such an occasion on this trip. I was sitting next to Master De Cheng at the time. He knew from the look on my face that I hated having to breathe second-hand tobacco smoke. Suddenly he turned to me and said, I need to go wash my hands. Do you need to go wash your hands? I was more than happy to accept his offer which was obviously a deliberate attempt on his part to give me an excuse to leave the situation. I followed him to the washroom, taking as much time as I could possibly justify. When I returned to the room where our group was eating lunch, Master De Cheng was already there, and NOBODY was smoking. Later that afternoon, during our afternoon workout with him, I pulled him aside and asked him if he had asked the other people in the room not to smoke for my sake. He said yes. I thanked him profusely.

Master De Cheng’s Family

Master De Cheng hails from Kaifeng City, where his parents still live today. It’s one of China’s ancient capitals and lies about 100 km east of Zhengzhou City, the capital city of the Henan Province. He is second of five children. His immediate family, the Chen family, consists of his parents, an older sister, himself, two younger sisters, and one younger brother, in that order--all of them Buddhist. While on this trip, I had the unexpected honor and privilege of meeting all but his two younger sisters, including both of his parents who, until they came to visit him while I was there, he had not seen in a year. He tells me that their family can trace its martial heritage back many, many generations, clear back to the Tang Dynasty, and includes many soldiers and military commanders.

He tells me that they’re a very happy family, but things weren’t always so rosy. Being 36 years old in the year 2001 and second of five children, that places his parents as having to raise and provide for their family right smack in the middle of the circumstances surrounding the Cultural Revolution in Mainland China, not exactly ideal circumstances under which to take on such a task. He tells me that they didn’t have food to eat, so his parents had to deal with the backbreaking labor of trying to coax their own food out of the ground that they had to work with. He tells me that it wreaked havoc on their bodies. Even though they’re now retired, to this day they still pay for it in pain.  He loves and honors his parents dearly for the sacrifices that they made to care for him and his siblings.

His older sister is a kung fu expert in her own right, and owns and runs her own kung fu school. She is also the mother of three very intelligent teenage children, the oldest of whom was recently accepted to a very prestigious and selective university in Beijing. Master De Cheng is very, very proud of them for their accomplishments.

His younger brother, Chen Qingsheng, came from Beijing to visit Master De Cheng while I was there. He is a 29-year-old international Sanda (Free-fighting) champion throughout Asia, and his many trophies are on display at Master De Cheng’s kung fu school. When he isn’t working out, he’s very reserved and gentle, though I wouldn’t say aloof. Master De Cheng is not only his older brother, he’s also his coach, so he’s pretty proud of his little brother. Physically, he’s deceptively small, but oh, so fast and powerful. While I was there, I had the opportunity to watch him and Xing Wei practice together. I was amazed at the speed and power that he was able to produce, and the look in his eyes when he is practicing sanda is absolutely piercing.

Master De Cheng’s Kung Fu School

Master De Cheng just opened his own kung fu school in Dengfeng, the Song Shan Shaolinsi Shi De Cheng Wushuguan, where my friends and I had our training while we were over there. He just opened it in February of this year, 2001, so it’s only been open for about six months. Currently his school consists of two street-level rooms, one which serves as a reception and visiting room and office, the other through the wall from it serves as a Buddhist shrine. The students’ and coaches’ dorms and classroom are in the two floors above the street level offices. Behind the school there is a dirt practice area with a concrete wall along the north side.

Master De Cheng is planning to build another school much bigger than the one he has. He’s currently looking for some land to acquire for that purpose at the foot of the mountain north of where his school is currently. He prefers the mountain environment to a city environment for his own and his students’ training purposes.  His plan is to get a bank loan to acquire the land within the next year and landscape it with grass, trees, bushes, and flowers. Then sometime in the year after that he wants to start building, including a large indoor practice facility with carpet and climate control. He also wants to build showers and guest rooms into it, so it should be pretty nice by the time he finishes it if all goes as planned. I’m looking forward to seeing it when it’s finished. It sounds like it will be a very nice facility, especially to work out in, and maybe even to stay in.

While I was there on this trip, his kung fu school received the Chinese Government-issued Advanced Unit in Sanitation award, as indicated by the bronze plaque for it mounted outside the front entrance. The Chinese Government and society are getting real about a lot of issues that they need to address in their society, including a need for improved sanitation throughout the country. Granting this award to deserving establishments is one of the ways that the government is encouraging its citizens to comply. While I was there, I watched them bring the plaque home to the school then mount it on their front entrance. I was pretty happy for them, and they were pretty proud, as they should be, especially considering how new the establishment is.

He currently has 40 or so full-time Chinese students training there, who came mainly from the Shaolin Temple Wushuguan, where he had been a full-time coach before that, with a few coming from other kung fu schools in the area. It’s a boarding school, so the students live there year-round, with the exception of a one-month vacation during the Chinese New Year in January every year which they spend with their families at home and eat until they’re stuffed to the gills, much like we do at Christmastime. During their stay there, the students receive a combination of martial training (8 hours per day!) and academic education, which includes math, English, and Chinese. Most of the students are boys and one or two are girls. He also has students of his from foreign countries, mostly Europe, come to visit and train there from time to time.

While I was there, there were several times when I saw the students from the school go through a doorway in the back yard wall to go to some house down a trail to the north of it across a vacant lot. I finally asked them one day where they were going. They told me they were going to get Chinese food, and that it was very good to eat. I thought that was kind of unusual since most young people in particular usually have only bad things to say about the cafeteria food that they are given to eat. I followed them to the house down the trail and went inside. It smelled wonderful, far better than any restaurant that I had eaten in during my stay. The cook for Master De Cheng’s school lives there with his nephew. The house doubles as a kitchen, serving, and dining area for the students there. I never got to taste the food that he prepared, but if it tasted half as good as it smelled, I wish I could have.

The Coaches

All of Master De Cheng’s kung fu coaches came from the Wushuguan with the exception of one female coach who is his cousin. He seems to have chosen all of his school’s coaches and teachers not only for their professional skills, but also for the way they interact with others.

Shi Xing Wei is an absolutely INSANE and phenomenal 24-year-old athlete that Master De Cheng hired from the Wushuguan to teach for him at his new kung fu school in Dengfeng (I had to stop him from using his kung fu to destroy the box of the 500-piece puzzle that I gave to him and the other coaches and students there as a present when he was trying to open it...). We became very good friends during my stay, and I taught him as much English as I could in preparation for his coming to the US to teach for Doc full-time this fall. Like Master De Cheng, Xing Wei is also from Kaifeng City and has one older married sister with a one-year-old son who, according to Xing Wei, is very cute, despite babbling a lot. He tells me that Kaifeng is a very beautiful city with many ancient artifacts in it, and offered to take me there to meet his parents and family next time I come.

Until Master De Cheng hired him to coach for him, he had been living and training for 10 years at the Shaolin Temple Wushuguan, and had traveled extensively as a member of the cream-of-the-crop performing team there. He even had the opportunity to train Leonardo DiCapprio at one time, which he’s very proud of, although he says that Leo wasn’t any good. Before coming to live at the Wushuguan, he studied kung fu for three years in his hometown of Kaifeng. During his entire stay at the Wushuguan, Master De Cheng had been training him, and has become a second father to him, and a good one he is. Xing Wei is a perpetual tease, but has a very soft heart. He accompanied Rafael and me to the airport when it was time to leave. He was obviously fighting tears when he had to say good-bye to us.

Because of some political problems that they’ve had with plagiarism and abuse, most of the monks have had to make a policy that no one is allowed to videotape them performing. But during my last week, Xing Wei did let us videotape him performing some stuff, and he absolutely LOVES to perform, which makes him all that much more fun to watch. Despite being about six feet tall, which is pretty tall for a Chinese guy, he’s still an incredible gymnast and acrobat. I watched him do things like standing back summersaults without hands and cartwheels without hands without even taking a run first. He made it look like it was as easy as walking for him. He also broke a few bricks with his hands for me to watch. He made it look pretty easy.

Another time I watched Rafael challenge him to kick a leaf on a tree in front of the kung fu school that must have been seven or eight feet off the ground. Xing Wei backed up a few steps, then did a jump spinning reverse crescent kick and hit the leaf squarely and easily. Another time he did a running jumping dive roll over seven hunched-over kids from the kung fu school who he had line up for him to do it. He still cleared them with room to spare, so he had an eighth line up with them and cleared them, too. He tells me that, when he was working out at the Wushuguan, he could clear ten with no problem, but he hadn’t worked out in three months because he’d been busy teaching for Master De Cheng while Master De Cheng was busy with other obligations. It makes me wonder what he’s capable of doing when he has been working out.

When Master De Cheng and Xing Wei couldn’t teach us personally, one of their senior student/coaches, Yong Po, taught us. He's a great young 18-year-old teacher, very friendly, modest, and very complimentary to and patient with us. I really liked working with him. I consider him to be a true friend and will train with him again.

One other disciple of Master De Cheng’s that’s worth mentioning is Shi De Xin. He actually has two masters. His Buddhist master is 90 years old and lives in Guangdong (Canton). Master De Cheng is only his kung fu master. His main emphasis has been in Buddhism, having studied it in both China and Korea where he also learned some English, but when it comes to kung fu he’s no slouch either. He’s a really nice 26-year-old guy and has the very typical serene, yet caring and outgoing Buddhist manner. I personally think he’s going places. Other than the Shaolin stuff, his favorite hobby has to do with Chinese pottery. He tells me that he can tell easily what dynasty any given piece is from.


Each day over there we typically had two 2-hour practice sessions, one from 9-11 AM and one from 4-6 PM or later if the weather was really hot that day. On Sunday we only had a morning practice. We rode the local taxis, or Tuk tuk’s as Doc has dubbed them, to and from practice sessions, which look something like a cross between a motorcycle and a tin covered wagon.  We tried to find a shady spot to work out in to reduce dehydration and overheating. We started by warming up and stretching out, then went into practicing basics, or Jiben gong in Chinese. After that, we practiced our forms for the rest of the time. While I was there, I learned four Shaolin forms: Shao Hong Quan, Shao Luohan Quan, Meihua Dao, and Liu He Quan, as well as several basics, some of which were fairly complicated and strenuous.

I went over there thinking that I was in shape for this trip, having practiced all of my known forms every day repeatedly before I went. What I didn’t know was that the basics that they would teach me are actually more strenuous than the forms, so I was still extremely sore for my first week there. Furthermore, the Feng Yuan Hotel’s building two where I stayed on the third floor didn’t have an elevator in it, so I had to hike all the stairs with my duffle bag on my shoulder anyway no matter how sore I was. Sick joke. After the first week, though, it wasn’t so bad. I ended up putting a lot of muscle on my legs in particular while I was there.

Extracurricular Events

One night I was invited to go to dinner with some other monks that were there, including one by the name of Shi De Chao. He works inside the Shaolin Temple and is known for his sheer physical size and power and iron body/palm training. I shook his hand once the second time that I met him, and the skin on his palm literally felt like thick, tough leather. He's built like an ox, and is very easy to recognize because, although he keeps the typical monk shaved head, he wears a full beard. (If you want to see a picture of him, go to www.hpphoto.com, enter jeffpeg in the account name field, and look at picture# 15). De Chao is a really nice guy. After dinner, just for fun, I asked if I could shake his hand to see if his skin was still tough from his iron palm conditioning. He squeezed my hand and I could tell from the incredible power that I felt that, if he wanted to, he could have crushed my hand in his, bones and all. The guy is so incredibly strong!

I saw the Abbott at the Feng Yuan Hotel twice. I'm not sure why he was there, but he was. I also saw Master De Yang there as well as Master Suxi, who is Master De Yang's master, and used to be the Abbott until his Parkinson's disease took over his body and he had to step down. So I saw my share of VIP's on this trip, too.

Some of us managed to find our way onto Chinese TV while we were there. One evening a camera crew came in from Zhengzhou that wanted to do an ad for the International Wushu Festival to be held there in September (While we were there, Master De Cheng’s students were preparing a Shaolin Ditangquan routine for it to be performed on September 1st). They wanted to film some foreigners working out, and we fit the qualifications, so we all went up to the Feng Yuan’s 4th floor exercise room and let them film us. So I guess we’re celebrities over there now.

Well, those are the main highlights from this trip. I hope that I’ve been able to give some of you an idea of what it’s like to go over there for training. Hopefully, though, within the near future, we won’t have to go any further to get it than Las Vegas.

See you there!