Monthly Archives: September 2009

Kung Fu Contacts


I had lunch today with Kong Cheng, Liu Jin Ru‘s disciple, and caught up on what’s happened over the summer. When we last met, we had arranged that round about now I would have started training bagua with him, although obviously circumstances have prevented that. He was of the opinion it’s a pity that the hospital put my wrist in a cast, where it’s fixed for a couple of months; apparently the TCM way (he’s a TCM doctor) would have been to splint it for a few days at a time, with massage and the application of herbs at intervals to help heal the soft tissue as well as the bone. To be honest, I totally agree – after the mess western-trained doctors made of dealing with my achilles tendon, I swore to avoid them whenever possible, and it was TCM massage that helped get that on the road to recovery (and taijiquan that took it to the end of the road!).

Kong Cheng is off to Europe again for a couple of months where he’ll be teaching baguazhang and TCM. He’s leaving after the National Day/mid-autumn festival, so we’ll meet before then so he can take a look at my x-rays, and then maybe introduce me to a doctor at a TCM hospital, so that I can get traditional treatment for my wrist after the cast comes off. Not sure if my insurance will cover that…

He’s also Vice-President of the Beijing Baguazhang Association. I mentioned that I wouldn’t mind interviewing him about that sometime for publication here, and he was quite happy with that idea. If you’ve got any questions, leave them in the comments…

He also had news of my old bagua teacher, Sun Ru Xian. Sun Lao Shi is apparently very well now that he’s retired. He’s also on a European teaching tour at the moment!

His name came up again later in the day. One of my colleagues, who’s just joined us this semester, knows some xingyi and is looking for a teacher; Sun Lao Shi is primarily a xingyi man, and co-authored a book on the subject with Liu Jing Ru. My students – until I learned to speak slower and enunciate more carefully – used to have terrible trouble with my Welsh accent, but this new guy is a true Dubliner, and has an accent so dense he could probably beat someone over the head with it…

Oh, I took a video of some xingyi on a bus the other day, but you’ll have to wait till I’ve got it on YouTube to learn more….

Back pain

I’m astounded to read in this article from the Times that:

Research by Bupa suggests that 45 per cent of British adults suffered back pain in the past year, and that 25 per cent suffered knee pain.

The article’s talking about an expensive new course of treatment, involving purchase of far-from-cheap special shoes, that will solve these problems.

I used to have back and knee pain. Taijiquan and yiquan sorted them out, and gave many other benefits besides – at a much lower cost.

I guess if I can get to the point of becoming a teacher of taiji, there’s a huge market out there….

Category: Taijiquan

Chinese gods in Singapore


Corporate lawyer and poet “Mr Wang” writes an excellent blog on Singaporean topics. One recent post is about a topic of interest to this blog – the tang-kis, or Daoist spirit mediums, in Singapore. It’s a record of an article printed in the Straits Times, the island state’s official newspaper. I’ve written a few times about this, mostly on the older version of this blog. The article has an odd tone, to me; it gives the impression that Singapore’s officialdom has decided that the tang-kis are a bit too unregulated, but perhaps I’m just reading that into it. Update: here’s a more positive, and informative, article.

Singapore’s Paranormal Investigation Society have also put together a photo set about tang-kis. Very interesting.

This stuff fascinates me. It’s one of the issues that, in a way, contributes to the feeling that I can’t ever go back to live in the UK. Having experienced a way of life that demonstrates such richness and complexity in the way the universe works, even though I’m not a believer, it’s hard to return to a culture where such things are unheard of, and would be feared, denied, or suppressed if they were known…

The tang-kis are found in Taiwan, as well; Scott P. Phillips did some research on this during his recent study trip there. I gather that there’s a revival in the south of China as well, particularly in Fujian. Even in the north of China, my farmer friends in the north of Hebei province tell me that “tang-kis” sometimes visit the village, although many of them are charlatans. (Speaking of the village, I’ve been told that the reconstruction of the Dragon Temple has just been completed; I’ll look forward to visiting it on my next visit).

A phone call


Just thought it’s worth mentioning that my yiquan teacher, Master Yao Chengrong called today; he was just checking up on how I’m doing, and how my arm etc are coming along. Second time he’s done that over the last couple of weeks. Like I posted previously on a couple of occasions, if I miss a few classes he’ll call to check everything is OK. It’s not every teacher that will take the trouble to do that.,

Three links


One I think is unimpressive, one I think is very interesting indeed, and one I think is superb. I leave it to you to judge which is which.

(h/t Eastpaw for this link):

How this man taught me to kill in four moves (The Independent)

Why Systema

Category: Martial Arts


Two very different YouTube clips appeared in my RSS feeds today.

The first, via The Online Citizen, is from Malaysia, produced for the 50th anniversary of independence. A Chinese boy, and his Malay-Muslim friend… This is sweet!

(Incidentally, punishment is required for martial arts blogger Bobbe Edmonds. Bobbe, since you’re a writer, write out 5,000 times: “Singapore and Malaysia are different countries“).

The second clip is nowhere near as sweet.

I found this via Click Opera, where Momus dicusses the artistic brain drain from Britain (prompted by this Guardian article).

I’ve mentioned before that being told I was “into weird things” by a senior university lecturer (now head of her department) after she’d seen me going through a taijiquan form may have been a tipping point for me, the moment when I decided it was time to get out of the UK. After all, I undoubtedly dance to a different drummer… It’s why I named this site “Jianghu 2.0”.

Unfortunately, the space for those of us who don’t want to be just like everyone else, where diversity and tolerance are valued for their own sake, where conformity to the profit motive and “the official view” are not required and enforced, seem to be shrinking.

Maybe I’m just having a bad day.

Category: Jianghu

Four lies and a truth


  1. The ancient Welsh art of Llapgoch is actually real. Like ninjitsu, it hides its existence by publishing a lot of nonsense to confuse outsiders. I have achieved Ovate level.
  2. There is a price on my head for teaching Llapgoch to strangers. If I stay in Wales for longer than 2 weeks, I will be killed by a team of Druid assassins. When I go to visit my parents I have to be very careful about timing.
  3. I once made a stranger jump off the ground, using the power of thought alone. I didn’t mean to, it just happened.
  4. My mastery of englyn and cynghanedd allows me to heal myself of injuries when other people would die.
  5. A Wicker Man is an ancient Druidic method of barbecuing tofu and vegetables. Don’t listen to Caesar, he’s just jealous because he could never weave the sticks properly, so everything turned to charcoal. Bloody great girl’s blouse. I can do it perfectly.

One of these really is true. Scott tagged me.

I’m going to tag Ed, Kim, Yiming, Tom, and Carlos. Leave your answers in the comments below…


You post five things about yourself. Four are untrue. One is true. All are so outlandish, implausible or ridiculous that no one would be inclined to believe that any of them are true. And despite the pleas from your readers, you never divulge which is true and which are fabrications. You then tag five other people (four seriously and one person you are pretty sure would never participate).

Category: Miscellaneous

Reasons to be cheerful


  1. If the handlebar had pierced me a quarter-inch deeper, there’s a good chance I would have had major internal injuries, or even been disembowelled on the road. But it didn’t.
  2. If the handlebar had pierced me an inch lower, I would probably have bled to death, or faced a lifetime of pain as a eunuch. But it didn’t.
  3. The fracture in my wrist is in a big bone, not one of the fiddly small ones that don’t heal.
  4. Nobody helped me at the scene, but by chance I was only a minute’s walk away from a bar where I’m well-known. If it had been anywhere else, I would have been in deep… trouble.
  5. I was taken to a very good Chinese hospital, the Peking Union Medical College. This means I’ve received excellent care (to all the doctors and nurses there: thanks!) and what’s more, I won’t be bankrupt when all this is over.
  6. I’m getting good at using chopsticks with my left hand.
  7. I was meaning to lose weight anyway.
  8. I’ve learned something important about love.

Category: Miscellaneous