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On moral and martial virtue

14

Right then, back to the nominal topics of this blog.

It’s Monday night and I have a long list of things that I should be doing, but frankly I’m too tired. For the first time in ages, instead, I sat for a session of vipassana: not too successfully, I fear – the monkey mind is very strong at the moment! Never mind, keep going…

This weekend there was a change in the air; everyone could taste the Spring coming. Last Thursday morning, I left for work before dawn; before getting into the car, I took a moment to stand silent, listening to the birdsong build up. The air was very still and full of qi; it made me clap my hands and shout HA for the joy of breathing. As I had a bit of a time margin before I needed to be in the office, I stopped the car as I drove over the moorland towards the city limits, and parked on the side of the road. I’ve often meant to do this, but never actually did it. On this occasion, there was a heavy mist, fragrant with the smell of brine from the nearby sea. In the pre-dawn gloom there was nothing of the views that are there on clear days, but the sense of stillness and space was calming. Soon, it’ll be the end of winter; time for me to buy some hill-walking boots!

Since I last blogged about martial arts, Earle Montaigue has passed on. I gave my condolences to Eli, but of course I don’t know him well, and I never had the chance to meet Earle. I’m saddened by that. I suppose the best anecdote I can give is that I bought a copy of his dim mak book in Singapore. When I moved to Beijing, I lent it to a Shaolin-trained martial artist who was studying dian xue of the Yang taiji style; his comment was that “it wasn’t the real thing”… but he never gave it back, despite being asked!

The last couple of weeks have been super-busy at work, combined with more than a little insomnia. I’ve made it to Eli’s classes; bagua followed by taiji. I’m really getting into this. It’s great to study the two together, which is something I’ve never done before, and I’m really getting my bagua vibe back! Plus it is just great to finally have an English-speaking teacher. I’m getting very excited about neijia again 🙂

On the other hand, I’ve missed the last two systema classes; I’ve been too tired, and basically didn’t trust myself to drive there and back without falling asleep at the wheel (oh, and I needed to work late at the office…). I should be able to make it this week though. There’s also an all-day seminar coming up at the end of this month; I plan to go to that, so I’ll finally get to meet Mark in person!

As for the title of this post… Having had a great time in the last class with Eli, I asked him whether he’d ever seen wulin zhi. It turns out that he hasn’t, so I’ll lend him my copy when I go tomorrow. That has motivated me to watch it again myself; it’s playing as I type (the famous scene with the pole circle is on right now!). As always, I love it – and yet, I feel saddened.

Those of you who know me IRL know why I left Asia, and I still think I did the right thing. And yet… and yet… I keep on being reminded why I originally quit Wales, and why I didn’t think I would return – until suddenly I had to. Hardly anyone has asked me what my life was like in Singapore and China; what I valued, and what I did with my time, or who I knew and why I valued them. It seems to be assumed that it was just a phase, and now I’ve returned to ‘normal’ life.

Not so, though. As I sit here watching wulin zhi, I’m reminded of how much I have internalized the values of wu de. To quote from that link, wu de stands for:

  • Ren: benvolence and mutual love
  • Yi: righteousness, justice, judging with the heart, having friendly feelings
  • Li: respect, rules of conduct, politeness
  • Zhi: knowledge, reason, education and learing
  • Xin: trust, sincerity and openness, to truly believe in something, and also to keep one’s promises, be stable and engaged in things
  • Yong: courage and braveness

I think of some of my teachers, especially of the older generation: Yao Cheng Rong, Zhou Yue Wen, Sun Ru Xian… These are men; men to be admired, men to be respected, men to be emulated. It’s important to me that though I never approached anything like their level, I was at least taken seriously. I find none to match them here; indeed, even today, I found some of the values that they and I hold were mocked by a colleague. Don’t get me wrong; there are other values. In my home town, I more and more feel a part of the community; it’s no small thing to be greeted from all directions by people old and young, from all walks of life, when you walk into a pub. But, and but… when the darkness falls here, Asia calls me.

I won’t be getting on a plane anytime soon, unless it’s for a holiday. Nevertheless, it’s a good thing to be reminded of wu de, and that the values of the jianghu, the values of wulin are more virtuous, and more admirable, than those of the little people I sometimes have to deal with here.

Bagua updates

2

When I was a student at Tsinghua University, the cafe-bar Lush overlooking Wudaokou train station was one of my favourite hangouts. Later on, when I first moved to my current job, it effectively became my office – it was where I would do a lot of my lesson prep and marking. I also used to go there a lot for breakfast after the early-morning bagua training sessions with Sun Lao Shi. I don’t go there so often these days, since my life and working patterns have shifted somewhat, but I popped in yesterday after dropping my suit off at a dry-cleaner’s.

By chance, sitting at one of the tables was taichibum, whom I haven’t seen for a year or more. We trained together for a while with teacher Zhang, in the Blade-Runneresque environment of a freezing, condemned warehouse. Shortly after that, I decided to focus exclusively on yiquan for a while, and we lost contact. Taichibum is looking well, I have to say; he’s obviously training hard! It seems that teacher Zhang has migrated to the US, where he hopes to open a school. The group is now training at the Language University (the warehouse having been demolished), and are being led by one of teacher Zhang’s friends, who is a shuijiao expert. Funny how things turn…. Anyway, taichibum and I will hopefully catch up again, though the academic year is coming to a close and both of us will be travelling over the summer.

Anyhow, I mentioned recently that I’d been picking up the bagua again. Not strictly accurate, that, but I have joined a bagua school: Small Steps Neijia. They run two tracks of classes – one in qigong, and the other in bagua applications. I’ve been going to the qigong sessions, as I felt I needed that more at the moment. There’s been some attention paid to bagua stepping in this strand as well, which I’ve found valuable as we worked on the issue of raising the heel that I’d encountered with Kong Cheng.

The bagua tradition is in the line of Liu Feng Chun, and – as I understand it so far – is influenced by xingyi. It’s also, if I understand correctly, fairly ‘minimalist’, without the longer and more complicated forms of other lineages.

There are informal classes on the weekend as well, in a different Beijing park each week. I’ve only made one, having had other things to do, but the applications and pad work are a part of these classes as well.

The students are a mix of Chinese and foreigners (majority foreign), and of male and female (majority female). Most don’t have a deep background in martial arts. At least one is also a student of Zhang Sheng Li’s Milun School, which was my first bagua school back in 2004, and later during my time at Tsinghua. As an aside, it seems that Zhang is no longer teaching so much; that’s being done by his senior disciple, while Zhang himself is more involved in getting a Buddhist Temple built….

Anyhow, back to Small Steps; I really like it. It’s very friendly, and there’s kind of a family atmosphere that I find valuable. Apart from the qigong and the bagua, the teacher, Liu Xuyang, is also a tui na practitioner, which is a field I want to learn more about. So, it’s very definitely right for me at this stage.

Also: a little bird tells me that, in the wake of the Yip Man movies, filming has started on a movie about the life of Dong Hai Chuan! I can’t say more about it, but the little I’ve been told makes it sound intriguing; I’m looking forward to this one…

A busy weekend

7

I spent a lot of this weekend interviewing university applicants. They have to go through a whole series of tests and examinations, but one small part of the procedure is an English-language aptitude test, so many of us foreign lecturers are roped in for this. We are paired with a local member of staff, and interview the applicants one by one, with an average of six minutes for each. The standard of English varies enormously, from near-fluency to complete inability; most are able to sustain a simple conversation about their lives and aspirations. (Note to self: that’s better that your standard of Mandarin – get this sorted out).

It’s tempting to get bored by this constant stream of stumbling, inarticulate youngsters. Still, many of them are still in shock after the dreaded gaokao; many of them have spent years in preparation, only to be disappointed. In addition, it’s a real opportunity to learn something about the lives and aspirations of China’s young people – easier in a way than with my own students, since there’s a culture that encourages maintaining a distance (correctly so, in my opinion). Many of them are vague about why they are applying and what they want to do – but really, was I any different at that age? I decided to make it an exercise in compassion, if that doesn’t sound too precious, and to try to find something interesting in each one. I’m glad I did; many, who were incredibly nervous and could barely speak at first, relaxed and talked passionately once the right question was asked. Not all of them will succeed, of course. Still, I know that these were extremely important interviews for them, and the experience will have marked them; I hope each one left feeling that someone was genuinely interested in them.

Anyway, moving on. I met up with Master Liu Jing Ru’s disciple Kong Cheng on Saturday evening. We first met when I trained with Master Liu back in 2007; he’s the one who took me out to visit Dong Hai Chuan’s grave. He’s recently returned from a tour of Europe, where he was teaching bagua and TCM in a number of countries. We chatted about bagua and other martial arts, and he didn’t dismiss my ‘theory’ that bicycling is a great CIMA training method 🙂 (Hey, but don’t the classics say that one of the hardest joints to relax is the ankles? And can’t pedalling really focus your mind on the flexing and movement of the ankles? And there’s also the alignment of hips, knees and feet…) Hehehehehe. Anyhow, we discussed training, as (as I previously blogged), I was thinking of re-starting bagua. I’m not sure that I can go back to Sun Ru Xian Lao Shi, as I don’t live near him any more, and the language is an issue (but let be clear that I really like and respect him – his skill is fantastic, and he’s an incredibly warm and generous guy). The Liang-style teacher has moved location, and my contact with him, Taichibum, seems to have vanished. Kong Cheng suggested that I train with him, and I think that’s probably what I’ll do, although not until after I’ve gone back to Wales for break.

And on the topic of going back to Wales, I see that there’s a systema school near my hometown, so I’ll try to get a couple of private classes if I can, just to finally get a taste. Via Twitter, I’ve also found that one of Cheng Man Ching’s students lives fairly close as well, and it would be cool to catch up with him if I can.

As for the yiquan… well… something’s happening. Last week, I went to a morning class, and really made progress, I felt, with the basic health movements and testing-force exercises. Everything just seemed to work, and I went home feeling stretched, with the tendons in my wrists and hands feeling energised after force had rippled through them. Master Yao commented that I’ve relaxed a lot since I started his classes – which I agree with, and I put it down entirely to the yiquan training methods! I couldn’t go on Saturday, due to the interviews, but I made it yesterday. To be honest, for most of the class I was just feeling tired, but towards the end we had a tui shou training session. I was paired up with one of the new students, who’s about my age, I think, very strong but very tense. I found that the more he pressed, the easier it was to slightly redirect his force and neutralise it, without me needing to use muscular strength. Then the “something’ happened – I found I was able to ‘bounce’ him. I don’t really know what I did, but he was thrown backwards and upwards, with both feet off the floor. As soon as he touched down, I was able to do it again. This really didn’t take any strength on my part. I could have carried on, I think, but I was a little bit freaked out, and broke contact. Hehehe, the whole class was speechless. There was a long discussion about it, which of course I couldn’t follow. Master Yao I think pointed out that I still tend to go through tui shou in a taiji way rather than the way yiquan does it, which is probably true – I tend to be passive and wait for my opponent, rather than moving to take them down. I also haven’t mastered yiquan’s quick, uprooting methods. I’ll work away at it, though. Master Yao told the class that I had real gongfu, though, which of course I’m very pleased about!

Hehehe, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: yiquan rocks!

Lazy sod

1

Or so I was called by one of my readers (mentioning no names, Carlos) for not posting more often… Guilty as charged!

So, what’s been going on? Well, my lofty ambitions for the year are on hold. This is a busy time of the year… I guess as well, I’m acculturating: the new year doesn’t start on Jan 1 for me any more; it’ll start when the Year of the Ox arrives in a little over a week! That’s when I’ll make my resolutions anew; the first couple of weeks of January have been a rollercoaster, and I need a bit of space to re-evaluate my priorities.

However, that’s largely off-topic for this blog. I’ve been to more yiquan classes, and as always I get some great insights every time I go. This weekend, we were working on some of the “testing force” exercises, and for the first time I really understood the ‘six harmonies’ principle. I was trying to synchronise the generation of power between my hip joints and my shoulder joints, and finding it difficult. Not in principle, only because I’m so stiff. Well, that can be remedied by practice, but at least now I’m aware of it.

I’ve also got to work on stiffness in my legs. I couldn’t work out why my knees were hurting so much. Eventually, I realised that it was because as I tried to stretch my hips to generate power, the stiffness in my legs was rotating the knees too far outwards. Also contributing was my weight distribution: it was centred too high. The solution was in the mind – I focussed on relaxing my leg muscles, and on breathing from the dantian, and everything just fell into place, problem solved. Now to integrate that into daily life, not just in class…

I also noticed that during this process, when I was clearing my mind in order to sense what my muscles were doing, I got snippets of memory popping into my mind; memories of things that happened long ago, and that I’ve not consciously thought about for a long time. This is what happens when I’m meditating; if you remember, one thing that originally drew me to investigate yiquan was that it seemed to offer a method that really combined martial training and meditation in a way that worked for me. i emphasize that last point, because of course I realise that the same could be done with other martial arts; bagua and taiji in particular, but it just so happens that I haven’t been able to get quite the same results from them. Horses for courses, and all that.

As for the bagua, not much to report just yet. I had intended to go as often as possible to the Liang bagua school as often as possible during the last couple of weeks, but circumstances prevented me from going. I actually have a little bit of a dilemma here. As you’ll have realized from my accounts of my lessons there, I really like that school: the teacher, the environment, and the other students. I certainly intend to keep going. However, I had lunch last week with Master Liu Jing Ru’s disciple Kong Cheng, and he told me that Sun Ru Xian lao shi had been wondering where I was! Total communications snafu. I would like to continue training with him as well! Apart from his skill, he’s a really genuine and generous person. In addition, I went out for drinks last Friday with Jose and a few of the others who’ve come over with Frank Allen and Tina Zhang to train with Liu Jing Ru. Apparently Sun Ru Xian had come up in conversation during a class there, and Master Liu had described him as one of his students who’s the most interested in actually fighting. I can well believe that.

Well, I did say that in 2009 / the Year of the Ox, I intend to really devote myself to improving my wushu. After CNY I’m flying to Wales for a couple of weeks. When I get back, I’ll have the timetable for next semester, and I’ll be able to plan out my training around that.

Oh, and one other thing – when I met Kong Cheng, he mentioned that someone from Singapore had visited Beijing to train with Master Liu Jing Ru. Apparently this person knows me… Who was that? Come on, ‘fess up! And if you know me, why didn’t you let me know you were coming? 😀

A mystery solved…


Hehe, one of the incoming SMS messages with New Year greetings was from Rene, my fellow-student with Sun Lao Shi. I’d tried calling Rene on a number of occasions, and never got a reply….

Anyway, it seems that Sun Lao Shi was travelling in Europe for a couple of months, and after he came back was occupied with his daughter’s wedding… Rene was also in Europe for a while, and then Hong Kong…

So that’s why I couldn’t get in touch with anybody 🙂 I must confess, I had been a little…. disconcerted by the sudden disappearances!

We’ll try to get up to visit Sun Lao Shi sometime soon… Of course, in the meantime,not having any idea what was going on, I’ve started training elsewhere… Well, I’m sure we’ll find a solution…

Category: Baguazhang, Sun Ru Xian

Get(ting back) into the groove…

3

Yeah, sorry, bad pop lyrics, that’s more Dragoncache’s field than mine (man, that guy is a compendium of cheesy lyrics from years gone by!) – but enough of such trivia!

I thoroughly enjoyed this weekend’s yiquan classes. Not many people there on either Saturday or Sunday, only myself and two or three other students. That’s cool; on the rare occasions when it’s been just me and Master Yao there, it’s been kind of embarrassing since I often haven’t a clue what he’s saying (due solely to my lousy Mandarin, of course). When there’s a couple of others there, they can all chat and ask questions, and I just sort of do my thing and follow along and observe, and I actually feel like I learn quite a bit. Every now and then I have a question myself; more often, I just try something out with Master Yao or another student to see whether I’ve understood a principle, and that gets me along. However, I’ve been told off for not practicing enough outside class. I had actually been working on the standing zhan zhuang, but Master Yao wants me to do more of the moving shi li exercises. Well OK then, as they put it in one of Nicholas Cage’s better films (see, I can do obscure cultural references too).

Master Yao records a lot of his larger classes, with the aim of putting material onto his website (see my blogroll on the right). He also films other events. He puts these on play during class (there’s a TV on one wall, and it’s just there as background). On Sunday, he put on a video of an event from the day before – the ceremony when he accepted a new indoor disciple. It was really interesting to watch: lots of tipping libations, koutou-ing (sp?) and so on. I assumed that the new disciple must have been studying with Master Yao for some time, but apparently not, according to one of the other students. I’m not sure exactly how Master Yao accepts/chooses disciples, but it seems that one needn’t have been one of his students for a particularly long period.

Moving on.. this evening I went for the second time to the new bagua school, and I’m totally enthused again. I went in, the teacher said hi, and then he ignored me and carried on working with a xingyi student. I changed, went into the ‘bagua room’, and carried on with what I was doing last week (the first move of the 64-linear form). Taichibum and another student were already there, doing circular forms. We had a chat, then got on with our respective practice. It was really cool, just going back and forth, back and forth, with those two guys circling away… This is what I’ve been looking for: a community of learners, each going at their own pace rather than all doing the same thing at the same pace. Taichibum gave me some really useful advice, which improved what I was doing a lot.

After about three quarters of an hour or so, the teacher came by to take a look. He took me out into the main ‘factory’ area and took me through some more sections of the linear form. He’s really patient – as soon as I get lost, I ask to go back and start again, and he’s got no problem with that. Every new move is accompanied by a demonstration of what it’s for – which again, I can practice again and again until I’m clear about it. This is just great 🙂 The ambience helps a bit as well: like I said, it’s a big old post-industrial space, lit only by a couple of camping lamps; this means I’m training on my own thing, breath steaming in the cold air, and I can see maybe the teacher and another student or two, and the rest are just shadows moving in the darkness…

Basically, as far as coming to Beijing to work on my martial arts is concerned, this is it. This is the situation I’ve been looking for. It didn’t happen the way I expected, but… things worked out for the best. The crucial thing for me now is to practice, practice, practice…

A pause for thought

4

I was on MSN last night chatting to Carlos, who commented that I’ve been quiet for a while. Very true. It’s not that things haven’t been happening, more that I’ve been trying to absorb and process it all.

The yiquan is going very well indeed; I’m loving it. The weekend before last saw quite large classes on both Saturday and Sunday, with the foreigners (German & Russian) that I mentioned before, plus more Chinese than usual. On the Sunday, we practiced with the staff, which was cool; it’s not a weapon I’ve used much before.

Last weekend saw a big change. It turns out that many of the Chinese who have been coming for the last few weeks are not actually from Beijing; they’ve been staying for short periods to train, but have now gone home. The Russians have also left, and the Germans depart next week – which means that before long, it could be just me and Master Yao at the weekend small classes! That’s a rather scary thought, given the language barrier… Of course, I’ve been having 1-1 lessons with non-English-speaking teachers for the last year or so – Master Zhou in Singapore, Master Sun Zhijun, Mi Lao Shi and Sun Lao Shi here in Beijing – but that was bagua… I don’t mean to say that bagua is any less profound that yiquan (much more, in many ways) but if nothing else it’s much easier to actually see what the teacher is doing in bagua! Yiquan is much more subtle… Still, I’m looking forward to it.

I did politely ask Yao Lao Shi whether it would be ok to use the books I’d bought from his brother, Yao Chengguang, earlier this summer. He suggested it would be better not to, as they don’t do things the same way (I couldn’t follow what the differences are, but the point was clear). So, right now, I’m trying to use VLC to rip Yao Lao Shi’s DVD (Yao Chengrong, that is) so that I can put clips onto my iPod. So far it’s not working – the picture is badly distorted 🙁

Even with the communication issues, I am learning huge amounts very quickly in the yiquan lessons. My ‘kua’ and shoulders are stretching and relaxing. My weight is sinking more naturally right down to the soles of my feet and is better distributed when it gets there. Although yiquan doesn’t talk about qi, I’m feeling some kind of sensation at my lower and middle dantians while I’m in zhan zhuang (post-holding standing posture). I’m even having new insights into (Cheng) bagua’s palm use and mud-stepping!

And so, speaking of the bagua… I have no idea where Sun Lao Shi is. I called a couple of times in October but his wife said that he was travelling, and that he would contact me when he got back. I haven’t heard anything but so far it’s not really a bad thing… As I’ve mentioned here, I kind of lost my direction for a while, and stopped training solo. However, I began to use VLC to put clips from VCDs of Liu Jing Ru onto my iPod (it works fine with VCDs; the problem is with DVDs) and that finally relit the flame, so I’ve started training again. I’ll spend a while refreshing my memory on the details of the ba mu zhang and ba da zhang at first, and then move on to doing it faster and longer (for aerobic fitness) and with steel rings/wrist & ankle weights (for endurance and strength). A friend of mine says that he often goes to Ditan Park in the morning to work on his Chen taiji, so I may try to join him – it’s only a couple of subway stops away.

So that’s the news up until now….

Apple-fu

1

Quoting Formosa Neijia for the second time in a week, I heartily agree with these comments, especially regarding DVDs/VCDs. I collect all sorts of bagua videos, and am now stocking up on yiquan/da cheng quan material as well. It certainly helps me learn, and to understand these arts in more depth.

I always find it really difficult to learn during class. It’s just my learning style, but I often find that I get overwhelmed with new material, and by the time i go home I’m just confused. I’m just not able to watch someone do a move, and then repeat it. If I can watch my teacher, or someone from the same family, performing the moves on video at home, that’s even better. Best of all is when I have the video available while I’m training solo. Then, when I get confused, I can watch a move over and over, repeating it myself until I’m really sure that I’ve got both the move and the intention correct. That’s difficult to do in class. This way, when I do meet my teacher again, I’ve got something material that he can give feedback on, rather than vague recollections from the previous session.

One of the problems I’ve had learning bagua with Sun Ru Xian is this lack of revision material to help me in-between classes. As a result, I haven’t been progressing much, which I feel is a bit dispiriting – certainly for me, and perhaps for him as well…

However, help is finally at hand! I recently bought a Mac Mini to use for work at home. Sun Ru Xian is a student of Liu Jing Ru, and is teaching me Master Liu’s forms. So, I’m using VLC to rip the content from some of Master Liu’s VCDs and convert it into MP4. I’m then using iMovie to edit it, making clips of each individual palm from the Ba Mu Zhang and Ba Da Zhang, which I then export as mp4v files. I can load these onto my iPod Touch and bingo, I’ve got the material to refer to when I do solo practice – which, after my prolonged martial arts depression, I’m getting fired up to start again…

Bagua on hold


After the summer break, I did arrange to start meeting Sun Lao Shi again, but our first class had to be postponed due to rain. Then it was the week-long National Day holiday, when we were both away. I called yesterday, and spoke to his wife. It turns out that Sun Lao Shi will now be away until the end of the month. So, no classes…

Of course, I should still be practising on my own. Now that the semester’s schedule is settling down, I have a clearer idea of when I’m free to do that. I’ve just bought a new bicycle, so it’ll be possible for me to get down to the lakeside in the mornings, which should be the best option, I think. Beijing’s getting chilly in the mornings now, though… 🙁

In other news, my shoulders are still aching like crazy after that first yiquan lesson! On top of that, a girl who wasn’t looking where she was going ran into me at speed on her bike, and a big bruise is starting to show on my knee. Ouch! Fortuitously, I’ve just discovered that the pharmacy next to the campus gate sells Tiger Balm, the strong red version. I have bought some….

Out of the slough of despond

1

Over-dramatic, I know. All the same, off-topic events across the last couple of months stopped me from training and, having stopped, I’ve found it incredibly difficult to start again. I was supposed to meet Master Sun Ru Xian for bagua last Sunday and Wednesday, but both classes had to be cancelled due to work and weather.

Today I decided to force the issue, and went to visit Master Yao Cheng Rong at his school just down the road from my new apartment.

I was warmly received. At first I just spoke to Master Yao, but because my Mandarin is so lousy, he called his students in to help – I feel bad for disrupting their class! One of them, Jack, acted as translator, but they all (3 of them) spoke English.

Master Yao welcomed me to come and study with him. There are three options:

  1. Public classes 3 times a week – Mon, Wed, Fri, 7-9pm. RMB900 for 2 months
  2. Public classes 2 times a week – Sat & Sun 9-11am. RMB900 for 3 months
  3. Private lessons, 2-4pm weekdays. Minimum 10 lessons. I didn’t catch the price here, maybe 150 RMB/lesson? Not sure. That was a reduced price for students from Greater China – including Singapore, so I technically qualify. I would feel guilty accepting that though – it’s more expensive (not by very much, though) for students from western countries, which (to be honest) I feel would be more appropriate for me.

    First impressions…. hmmmm. Master Yao Chengrong seems older and more careworn than his brother, even though they’re twins. He was extremely friendly and welcoming. His students were more mature, and better educated (I would say mid-30s to early 40s) than the students at his brother’s school. Having said that, the students I met today were all taking private lessons; apparently, though, there are often Westerners in the public lessons. The school is much bigger that the Zongxun Wuguan where I studied earlier this summer; they have one entire floor of a hotel, plus roof space which they use for sparring and heavy bag work.

    My personal feeling is that I got a very good vibe from them. I’ll start classes soon; probably I will choose the M/W/F option to begin with, though I need to check this with the gf. Next week is a public holiday in China, so I’m looking to start in the second week of October. This, I hope,will kickstart my practice again!

    Updated: oops, got my Pilgrim’s Progress reference wrong – fixed that.