When I showed up with the Deputy Director of the Physical Education Department, Simon, some of the students from the Martial Arts classes were there. All of the students seemed as if they knew I was coming and gave me a nice welcome. Some of the students whom I had not yet met were calling me "Mr. Wu" and when I laughed, Simon told me very seriously that they were respectfully and intentionally saying "Mr."
I had never rowed before. They gave me no preparation as to how to use the oar, or what technique to use. I was sure that they were just including me for fun, and assumed I would not really try. I can't be sure because, as I said, they were very respectful. To me, I was serious in trying to learn more about Dragon Boat racing and was determined to be part of the team, even if just for a short time.
I had to quickly watch other people and figure out the fastest way to get the oar in the water and then how to use less hard strength. This was a task. The student next to me gave me a quick tip on how to hold it, and then we were off down the river at a quick pace. There was no gradual increase in speed, but rather it was full force the whole time-as fast as we could go down and back on the man made waterway. My goal was to keep my oar going smoothly into the water, while keeping up with the guy next to me. When everyone is rowing full speed, keeping the oar going smoothly into the water is one of the most important and challenging things. Anyone who does not keep the smoothness can cause the whole boat to slow down. I can say that my martial arts training was very helpful. I was able to keep up with the team and able to row without much friction. I also learned a great deal about rowing.
More pictures and stories about my last trip or two to China coming next time.
P.S. There was no Dragon head on the boat, because when they would turn the boat around in the waterway, the boat wouldn't fit with the head-so they just used the head during competitions.