Kung fu camp, 28th July 2012

It doesn’t seem that long ago since it was Dave’s first camp of the year, and yesterday was already the second of three. I got up at 5 a.m. to catch the train and, when I got to London Bridge, it wasn’t nearly as busy as staff seemed to anticipate. However, the normal exits and entrances were blocked off, one of the ticket halls was shut (where our guys usually go to buy tickets) and there were those metal gate things (what do you call them?) to kettle people around the long way. So, as I see it, far from making things easier during the Olympics (oops, not allowed to say that, am I?), they’ve probably made things ten times more complicated than they need to be.

No matter. I met up with a few of the guys and we caught the 07:38 train so we could be there before 9, when we were due to start our training for the day. The journey was uneventful (thankfully) and we arrived in good time, although we were waiting on one side of the station, and the taxi turned out to be waiting on the other side. When Dave turned up (he lives round the corner), he said we all had to cheer up to stop the rain. It wasn’t raining hard, and the clouds only let a bit more out in fits and spurts throughout the day, but it was enough that I was glad to have been prepared, in having taken both my factor 50 and my waterproof. In the end, I needed both (and still managed to get sunburnt shoulders).

Loads of space in the field to train

Camps are a chance for Dave to spend an entire day teaching us things he doesn’t have time for in class, and the deal is that, if you go, you don’t reveal what we did to those who weren’t there. If you want to learn and get better, you go to camps, and this is the sixth one I’ve been to this year so far (two of Dave’s, and four at our chief instructor Dennis’s house), so I can only be doing myself some good. It’s costing me a small fortune, though it’s money very well spent.

Eleanor was on cooking duty, this time, and Karen was helping her out, and in the meantime, we had tea and pastries. Sheila (our resident Chinese medicine expert) recently told me I had to cut down on sugary things to sort my spleen out, and I’ve been good so far. I’ve even stopped putting sugar in my coffee, which I’ve done since forever. Anyway, this was an exception, as it was camp, so I gave in. These pastries come from Dave’s local baker and they’re completely yummy.

Dave demonstrates a move

Lunch was great, and I ate lots of it, and we were then fuelled up for more training in the afternoon. During the second tea break, Jasmine and Lise had money riding on Isaac (Lise’s 11-year-old son who also trains with Dave) being able to eat a sugar-covered jam doughnut without once licking his lips, and Lise called me in to referee. He managed it, just, but slipped up when he wiped some dribble from the corner of his mouth (though I suspect Jasmine and Lise coughed up anyway, as it was entertaining watching him struggle!).

There were so many pastries left that we were forced to eat them and / or take some home. Being disciplined, I didn’t eat any more then, but managed to stuff four into my bag. With some leftover lunch and the pastries, there was plenty for Laz and me to eat later on.

Dolan gave John and me a lift back to the station, so we didn’t need to shell out for taxis again, and then the girls arrived. Our train numbers had halved from the morning, so there were only four of us, and when we arrived at London Bridge, John crossed to another platform, Judy and Nicole headed for the Tube and I just had to wait for my train (I only needed to stay on the same island and switch from platform 6 to platform 5).

Little Connor helping his mum Nadia train

Determined as I was to read on the way back as I had on the way in (Laz insisted I read The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell and I quickly found out why), I managed three pages, then read the same sentence three times, gave up and dozed off. It wasn’t exactly a quality snooze, but trying to read was a waste of effort and I was completely out of brain power. Arriving back in Brighton at around 8:30, I made my way to Laz’s place on auto-pilot, but still found the energy to eat some more food (I’m putting away so much more than I used to before I started training) and watch a couple of episodes of Blackadder the Third. Then it really was time to have a long, much-needed shower before I hit the hay. It usually takes me a while to get to sleep, but it didn’t last night. And so ended another great day of kung fu camp.

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