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Before I came to the Rising Dragon School, I thought, "What have I let myself in for?" I knew that I would be sharing a room and living with people I've never met, in a remote part of the world, for two months! And the training...what would it be like?

I was so scared. Little did I know, however, that I was in for the best time of my life! I'm currently in my final year of studying BSc(Hons) Applied Chemistry, and am hoping to study for a doctorate in Sept '11. I've been lucky enough to have been travelling to various continents, for various reasons (i.e. placements, backpacking, trekking and holidays, skiing, etc.), but my trip to China has never been far from my mind."

Chinese kickboxing Sanda

During the stay, we all had to get up early to go for morning runs, followed by some Tai Chi before breakfast. You had the option of choosing to study an internal style or an external one. I chose the external style, and it wasn't easy! I was a black belt in TaeKwonDo when I went out there, with experience in Judo and a couple of other styles. But after this adventure I really wanted to learn more! I now study kickboxing and a little Shaolin in my hometown in England. It's up to you how serious or intense you want your training to be, but everyone benefits, in terms of fitness, inner wellbeing, and just having a good time! The training involved sparring, gymnastics and learning forms. We'd do this all day, with a little break for lunch.

The weekends were always cool! We'd all take the bus through the beautiful hillside to the nearest town. We'd stay there over the weekend in a hotel, and the rooms were pretty cheap! Once we took part in a local dragon boat race against the locals; we lost, of course, but it was an amazing experience! We also took some trips to The Golden Lake and that was absolutely beautiful. We trekked the second highest mountain in the Fujian Province, which is an all day affair. And not only that, but the friendships I made were phenomenal. I really grew close to some people and my time in China was my first step towards developing inner confidence and self-belief.

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