greg rodgers kung fu

Myself and some buddies at the Shaolin Temple

The days continue to speed by and I am enjoying training more than ever. No, that isn’t a typo!

Sure, I still roll my eyes and moan like a starving zombie when the alarm goes off at 5:30 every morning, but once warmed up I do OK.

Our sifu seems to be in a better mood lately and we have reached that magical point in our training where my group receives difficult exercises with a smile rather than a groan. My air is one of defiance, much like the latter weeks in U.S. Army basic training — and I love it. When we are stretching and he comes to push me down even lower, stretching my tendons to the point of breaking, I just say: “is that all you’ve got for me, sifu?” He just smiles and pushes harder. Last week I would have cried like a little girl, but I no longer feel the pain. Mostly, because the end is in sight!

I must have caught the Deng Feng fever or something because I have even been going to the training hall (voluntarily) after our nightly meeting to practice during my free time. WTF?

Speaking of fever, I got a first-hand look at it yesterday. The sifu from another group nearly knocked me down the stairs as him and another guy rushed past me carrying a student from Austria. His head was hanging low and he could barely stand on his own. My heart nearly froze when I saw his face. It was white as death and sweat was rolling off of him in a river. His eyes were rolled back and sank into his head. They were massaging his hands and talking to him, trying to keep him conscious as they made their way to the camp doctor.

deng feng china

Typhoid chicken necks, anyone?

Last I heard, he was at the hospital in Zhengzhou and they were still trying to get his stubborn fever to break. For weeks now, the sifus have been warning us of a virus that is hitting Deng Feng hard. At first, I dismissed it as just a scare tactic to keep us from leaving the school, but now I know better.

The Chinese word my teacher gave for the virus translated to typhoid, an old-school killer of a fever. Between the bird flu and SARS, these guys here really know how to cook up a proper virus. Lucky for me, I paid up and got my typhoid/typhus vaccination before I left last year. But I am still not taking any chances.

Of all the places in rural China for an epidemic to pop up, it just had to be here. Lucky me! I am playing it safe with food and water (which is how typhoid is spread) and am out of here in five days, so no worries. I don’t have time to get sick!