My Intensive Sanda / Sanshou Course in Capital Institute of Physical Education
Name: Chritopher Ashley Ford
Occupation: Business Manager
Course Title: Sanda Intensive Course
Course Date: 12th Oct - 12th Nov 2011
I had a good trip, and enjoyed my training. As for feedback, I found the accommodation to be quite comfortable. It's not a hotel, of course, but it's a perfectly good place to stay. (And the rates are much better than a mainstream hotel, naturally!) It was also a pleasure to be able to associate with fellow students, both of martial arts and in the language courses. It was a bit difficult to get access to the Internet without bringing one's own laptop, however, though this is a relatively minor quibble because the staff were willing sometimes to let me use the front desk computer for quick e-mail checks.
As for the training, I would advise future Sanda students -- at least older ones, such as myself -- to spend more time on fitness preparation beforehand. I'm in pretty good shape for my age (44), but it still felt like my first week was mostly spent bringing myself (with pain and difficulty!) up to a minimal baseline for real training thereafter. As a result, I had less time than I would have liked for Sanda-specific skills training (e.g., kick catches and takedowns). (The instructors also spent a lot of time trying to get me to polish up sloppy basics of striking and movement, but I indeed needed this.) Next time -- and I hope there will be, perhaps in the springtime -- I'll work myself harder before coming, so I can spend more time and energy on techniques in Beijing and less on basic fitness.
It was also very useful to train a few times with the Chinese Sanda students. The one-on-one instruction I got most days was great, but it's difficult to train in a fighting art if you're just one person. Having the other students there (e.g., for Thai pad drills or sparring) was very valuable. For those who (like myself) speak no Chinese, however, I would think that the ideal training program would be to pair two foreign students together under the supervision of an instructor. That would give the benefits of very close instructor contact, but also let the two students drill against each other. I realize it may be difficult to find two foreign students who want to do Sanda at precisely the same time, but this would be ideal training if it could be arranged.
All in all, it was a very good program. I trained extremely hard -- with two and a half hours of drills and heavy bag work each morning just for this "standard" course, which for me is a level of effort unprecedented since I played rugby at university 22 years ago -- and I learned a lot.