Decision: I’m curtailing my studies at the Yiquan Academy. I had planned to go through until the end of next week, but I now plan to make this week my last, and I’m not sure whether I’ll make it to the end of the week.
Mostly this has nothing to do with the Academy itself, only that it’s a 90-minute trip from where I live. I had planned to use the afternoons and evenings to prepare for next semester, but I’m finding that with all the travelling, plus the time it takes to find somewhere to eat after the morning and afternoon sessions, I’m not getting much work done. The fact is, my level of wushu ability right now is substantially lower than it was six months ago. The reason is, I didn’t have an opportunity to prepare my classes before the semester began, so I spent almost all of my “free” time frantically preparing lectures -and, consequently, I had no time to practice. If I want to have time to do martial arts seriously once the next semester starts, I need to be prepared. I’m going to dedicate next week to that.
Today I did a bunch of very interesting stuff.
浑元桩(打乱程序摸劲) UNIVERSAL COMBAT POST (SEEKING FORCE WITH CHANGING DIRECTIONS）
浑元桩(六面力同时摸劲) UNIVERSAL COMBAT POST (SEEKING FORCE IN SIX DIRECTIONS SIMULTANEOUSLY)
These were cool. Here’s the beginning of training for full-body power. Woo! Hoo! Good stuff!
After the morning session, I headed down to Ritan Park, and practised bagua for a while. Ritan Park now has peacocks wandering around – when did that happen? Then it was dwon to Scitech, to catch up with a Serbian friend who has a lot to celebrate, and perhaps we will, soon.
Afternoon class (5:30 – 6:45):
丁八步头发力 T-EIGHT STEP EXERTING FORCE WITH HEAD
丁八步肩发力 T-EIGHT STEP EXERTING FORCE WITH SHOULDER
丁八步肘发力 T-EIGHT STEP EXERTING FORCE WITH ELBOW
丁八步掌发力 T-EIGHT STEP EXERTING FORCE WITH PALM
丁八步跨发力 T-EIGHT STEP EXERTING FORCE WITH HIP
丁八步膝发力 T-EIGHT STEP EXERTING FORCE WITH KNEE
Sorry, pardon my language, but OMFG. This is training for fa li, but what really blows me away is that the yiquan curriculum actually has exercises for headbutting. The only teacher who’s ever taught me this before was Zhou Yue Wen, and the way it’s taught here is exactly the way he did it, ie with the side of the head rather than the front (DON’T try this at home, kids!).
Taken all together, today’s lessons totally reinforce my impression that yiquan, and its structured, methodical, approach are superb*. However…
I was taught, as usual, by Li Xin. Didn’t see much of Master Yao till right at the end of the day. I was preparing to leave when they both came over to discuss payment.
When I first went to the school, Master Yao wrote down “600 RMB” next to each module. OK, that’s clear. Each module is nicely laid out, as you can see. So I was like, OK, no problem; I paid for the first two modules up front. As far as I was aware, that was OK; sure, I’ll pay more as we get to more advanced modules. Except, as you’ll note if you compare what I’ve written to the module list, what I’ve been taught is largely the first two modules, though not everything, plus lots from further ahead in the module.
Thinking about it last night, I reckoned I was surely into the third module by now, so I took cash out of the ATM before going to class, and paid Li Xin first thing this morning for a third module.
This was what the discussion today was about. Master Yao counted up the number of different moves I’ve been taught, said well these are equivalent to one module, these are equivalent to another module, these to a third, pay up more before we go on tomorrow please.
Well, OK. I kind of dislike the insinuation that I wouldn’t pay, but whatever. However, it seems that the charging is by move, not by module. This is another communication issue, let’s put it that way. I agreed to pay by module, and the modules’ content is very clearly laid out. However, what has actually been taught has been drawn from all over the curriculum. I’m not complaining about that, it’s been very useful and a great insight into what yiquan is all about. However, were I to put my MBA, cynical, hat on, I would observe that this does… ahem, encourage… me to buy all of the books ASAP.
I want to reiterate that I am finding all of the training, and the material, to be amazing. However, I do, still, feel rushed, and I do feel pressured to keep paying. This afternoon’s session was kind of a tipping point for me. The sequences where I learned the head and shoulder strikes just didn’t come naturally to me; I keep trying to generate power from the hips, which is not correct for these moves. Even so, we moved on to new moves, while I think it was clear I couldn’t properly perform the ones we’d already covered. On this topic, I am aware of Andrzej’s comment and explanation, but I’m afraid I can’t really accept it; I’ll go over why exactly in my review.
Which brings me to what next. Tomorrow I will pay for one more module, however that happens to be composed, and no more. I don’t know how long it will take me to complete but once it is, I’m done; could be Wednesday or Thursday, maybe Friday.
At the end of the week, I’ll do an overall review. Don’t confuse my feelings about yiquan as a style, the standard of the teaching, and issues about the way the Academy is run as a business; these are separate topics, and I’ll address them separately in my review.
On the way home, I was hungry and stopped again at the dumpling joint at Guloudajie zhan. Surrounded by ar-ar-ar Beijing ren, I felt totally at ease, and was yet again reminded why I love this city so much…. I read a bit more of Dharma Bums, and felt invigorated by the correspondence between passages of the book and parts of my own life that I hadn’t thought about in a long time (the bits about mountain-climbing, FWIW!).
* Superb, but not complete. More about this in my final review.