Training in the Julian Alps


I have always been enamored with rich green forests, peaks touching the clouds, and the sound of mountain streams. Last year in China I said that while training should be the same everywhere, no matter the aesthetic, one should train in beautiful places when the chance arises, because why not?

Slovenia is beautiful, and the Olympic training venue in Planica is right off of a postcard. The stream in the picture is cold, clear and clean, and there is a nearby lake for swimming. Hiking trails lead in all directions and the sun doesn’t set until close to 9pm, allowing outside practice until then (then come the mosquitos). The Canadian ski team is here practicing their jumps on the run specially built for Olympic preparations. They are young, fit, focused, and their workouts are fun to watch – balance exercises on one leg on a high wall, stair hopping on one leg up and back down 3 flights, and of course the jumps – flying through the air, cheering each other on.

The training is the same as always, with excellent teaching by the Chens – Chen Xiaoxing, Chen Ziqiang, Chen Zijun. It’s really nice to get the different methods of these three gentlemen. During the day we work on xinjia yilu, and in the evening we are learning a short spear form and a double mace form. The take aways, for me, have been repeated through the years – the principles are the same, no matter the form. I am reminded time and again to sink the qi, separate the yin and yang, and slow my transitions to allow the body changes to complete. One participant, a long time teacher, said after one correction that he was good, and could go home now with enough to practice for a lifetime. That’s the way of this art – the principles, while so simple in articulation, provide complexity that can keep us busy forever.

Many friends from all over the world are here, making this seem just like a China training trip, only here we can drink water from the tap, we can eat the lettuce, and there is no pollution clogging my respiratory passages. I am glad I chose to attend, and while I may return to China, the door is open to other possibilities, realizing that training is the same everywhere, so why not go to the beautiful countryside when the chance presents itself?