In Beijing I visited three places connected with the modern wushu: the Sport University, the Capital University and the Beijing wushu team.
Thanks to a big help (thank you again!) I could contact one of the coaches of the Beijing wushu team. He said he cannot speak English much, but he was fluent when we met. That was really good, because I could ask questions, and I did. I watched one of the morning trainings, amazed that I witness the Beijing wushu team. Even when you practice traditional styles, which is something completely different, you must have heard about them. The coach proudly announced they believe to be the best in the world, and I guess many would agree.
The Beijing wushu team is not inside any university, but a sports school. The institution is new, fancy, very well equipped. Inside the wushu gym, there are three carpets. They have eight teams. A and B in both junior and senior age groups. Juniors are kids who still attend schools, so they practice usually only in the evening/afternoon. Adults are professional; it is their job.
Each team has several coaches. The one I was watching had three. The friendly coach who was talking to me, once an athlete himself, is now in his almost 30 years working as a coach. He seemed to be very proud about the power training. Learning from other sports, such as golf of basketball and studying some coaching techniques abroad, he said: “We need to look for the new way of coaching”.
The group warmed up with the classical stretching kicks. But the coach pointed out, that doing it every day again and again isn’t good for the athletes. “Their mind is asleep. The body is not warmed up inside.” They therefore use some other ways too, such us elastic bands or rollers.
This group consisted of changquan players, on the carpet next to them there is nanquan. “They are around 20 years old, the oldest is 28,” said the coach. They practice wushu three hours per day in the morning, and they have power training two hours a day in the afternoon. Six times a week.
Someone’s phone was playing calm but happy songs, some pop. Everyone usually performed few techniques or a jump on a carpet and moved away to make place for the others. It was indeed calm, no pressure, with sudden explosion of energy when they pushed little more on the carpet. Their eyes shined and their body exploded in speed and power. And then they went into slow pace again. Joking around, training hard but in slow pace. Anyone could tell that they like what they are doing, or at least most of them. Coaches was standing or sitting aside, typically for the Chinese coaches they did not involve much. Few times the nanquan group got under a closer examination of the coach. Otherwise they literally had the training in their hands.
After their retirement, most of them will become coaches and teachers, some will try their luck as actors and stuntmen. It is a risky life, from the beginning till the end, with no firm future. In the beginning it is stressful for them too. Since there is a policy not allowing registered athletes of Beijing to join other cities and countries’ teams, every talented kid is registered for Beijing as soon as possible. If the kid however cannot perform well enough to become a professional in the Beijing team, he or she cannot think about the career in the other teams.
Still, you have to admire the tough work put into their training, even knowing it will end one day. They practice without being controlled by the coach, with lots of positive energy and focus. This kind of strong will will last long after. “I want to improve my English,” said the Chinese young coach with fluent English. “And when I am 30, learn Spanish.” He is very interested into the new methods of training and coaching. “It is about the problem. You have to know, where the problem is. Find it out, where it really is. And then the athlete can fix it.”