As I mentioned before, Wei Jian invited me to come up to Fudan University to train with his wushu team. Since I was able to train with the Shanghai Wushu Team I knew that I would at least survive the experience. But mainly I was just curious what it would be like to train with Wei Jian, since he and I have never done wushu together.
Looking for Wu Yuan Tang at Hongkou Stadium
I started out in the afternoon on Friday and first went to Hongkou soccer stadium where the well-known (among some folks, I guess) wushu supplier, Wu Yuan Tang, was located. Much to my surprise the entire stadium was being redone (refurbished?) and all of the stores around the outside were closed down. It was a pretty major project, as you can see from the photo above.
So, no luck on picking up a few wushu shoe bags for friends that I would be visiting on my travels. C’est la vie. I would still be able to meet up with Wei Jian.
Freshman Wushu Class
I grabbed a cab from the stadium to Fudan University and got dropped off near the sports center at the university where Wei Jian was teaching a wushu class.
This wasn’t a “pro” wushu class. These were students who had to do wushu as part of their freshman physical education requirement. So, no high level athletes. And it turned out that they were having a test on this particular day. They had to do the 3rd duan jianshu form for Wei Jian.
Personally that would be extremely intimidating to me. I mean, he’s Wei Jian. His name is literally “straightsword”.
But probably to these freshman who weren’t in the know with wushu athletes, he was just a coach. In any case, they seemed pretty focused on what they were doing.
Wei Jian had apologized a few times for the low quality of the students. But I didn’t think much of it. After all, even a beginner wushu student has something to teach us about wushu. How they do their techniques is very educational.
No, I’m not being facetious. I actually believe that.
Beginners are in a unique position to not really know what they are doing. As a result, their approach to wushu is quite special and something I find very informative towards better understanding the process of coaching and learning wushu.
In any case, the class went along, they all took their tests, got their scores, and pretty soon it was time for Wei Jian and I to go.
A tour of Fudan University’s new campus
We had some time before the wushu club training session so he offered to take me around to see some sights in the area. Namely, the new Fudan University campus located a few kilometers away.
Well, I have to say … the campus was pretty impressive. He told me that it was modeled after university campuses in the West. Lots of open spaces, thats for sure. In any case, I’ll let the pictures do the talking and you can decide for yourself what you think.
The Wushu Class
After walking around we got back in his car and headed to the main campus. The wushu club (basically the students who were more serious about wushu and/or who represented Fudan University in collegiate competitions) was held in another auditorium/gymnasium next to some badminton and volleyball courts. (Why are wushu practices always near net sports?)
It turned out that, since this was a busy time for a lot of students (finals) that many of them weren’t at the practice. I did get to see a few folks though, and I met a really nice guy from Sweden who was studying at the university and did wushu — Joel. He was actually pretty good and we had a nice chat and exchanged e-mails. (You might hear from him on a future podcast, actually. 🙂 )
So, the workout was pretty light. Which was good because I was still sore from the Shanghai Team practice. I worked through basics, stretching, combos and my form. Most of my form work was trying to re-work the beginning and some of the section transitions.
Wei Jian’s Office
Soon enough the class was over and it was time to grab some grub. Wei Jian and I went to his office where he answered some e-mails and made a phone call or two.
I took a few pictures which you can see here:
Dinner in the Fudan University Cafeteria
Then we walked over to the canteen and he treated me to some student food. I actually like canteen food in China — probably because I don’t eat it very often — so I enjoyed our time and we had a nice conversation about wushu. I asked him what I needed to work on and he gave me some food for thought.
Another thing he mentioned to me was to let my friends know that if any of them come to Shanghai and want to train to let him know and they can come train with him.
So, clearly he doesn’t realize that all of you out there are my friends, and he just invited half of the known world-wide wushu community to his wushu class — but there you have it. If you’re heading to Shanghai let me know and I’ll get you guys in touch. 🙂
After dinner he drove me to the subway station and I was on my way. I realize Wei Jian will probably never read my blog, but I would like to thank him for his hospitality and for allowing me to spend some time with him and on his carpet. I had a really nice time and hopefully it won’t be too long before I can get back there and do some more of the same.
The next day I was leaving Shanghai. I gave the keys to the apartment back to Lisa (she was returning home from Vietnam — thanks Lisa!) and went to the train station to make my way to Beijing.
From Shanghai to Beijing and Beyond!
I won’t write too much about my Beijing time because I didn’t do too much there. Basically it was an afternoon working around San Li Tun and then a bit of time with Wu Di in the evening at his home. I had to head to the Airport that night because my flight to the U.K. (via the U.S.) was early the next morning.
Here are a few photos just so you can have a more complete picture (no pun intended) of that leg of my trip:
Next time around I’ll share my experiences meeting wushu folks and training in the United Kingdom! See you then!