Heyo in return!
Make no mistake, you will eat Chinese food on this trip, nay, you will eat lots of Chinese food on this trip. }:) Traditional/"Authentic" Chinese cuisine as well, with many dishes served up centre-table style, so something akin to 'orange chicken' will not be present. For the majority of the trip (anytime outside of Beijing) this will be the only food choice available, and while in Beijing if you choose to opt-out to try one of the other spots the food will be on your own dime. I enjoyed the food a lot, and really had a good time with the new cuisine. As it is centre-style, vegitarians should have no trouble (we usually ensured they got first pick of all vegitable dishes). With all the workouts, it isn't a bad idea to bring along a few snacks (dried fruit, nuts, clif bars) to supplement, but try to balance that with packing light. }:)
We will have an opportunity to purchase the weapons over there (there are many weapon stores/forges, including one at the wushuguan). IIRC, the staffs were 10 yuan and the spears were 20 or 25 yuan. For the basic vs advanced forms, it is likely they will demonstrate the forms for us on the first day, so you can see which of the forms you feel would be best, and the same with the weapon forms. If the forms are simlar in nature to last year, at a year and a half worth of experience, the advanced form would probably be a good pick for you, but until I see the forms this year, I cannot say for certain. }:)
In the real world, I am sometimes known to go by the name of "Oliver". }:>
Hope to see you on the trip!