I took a break from work this evening, and headed out to the usual small garden park to practice. It was heavily overcast, and rain occasionally came spotting down, but I decided to persevere and eventually the raindrops stopped falling.
I was working on the ba da zhang tonight, and in particular the 7th palm (the Overturning Body Palm), which Sun Lao Shi went over with me on Wednesday morning. It’s very ‘twisty’, and Sun Lao Shi described it as intended to train the waist. Liu Jing Ru’s book just says ‘the Overturning Body Palm strikes by overturning the body suddenly‘. Heh.
Anyway, so I was overturning, which is to say leaning backwards, and rolling my palm around the back of my head, elbow above my face, when I saw a point of green light before my eyes…. Night had fallen by this point, and the park was only dimly illuminated by the light from the windows of the surrounding apartments. I thought at first I was imagining it, but no! A solitary firefly had come to investigate me. It’s the only one I’ve ever seen in Beijing! It stayed around for about ten minutes or so, minding its own business (I wish I could say the same for the mosquitoes!). Eventually, it vanished. Heh, hope it’s there with some friends next time I go there; it was beautiful – a tiny spark of phosphor flitting around…
I’ve now pretty much memorised the ba da zhang, and now I need to work on fluidity – being able to do it smoothly, without thinking about it. It’ll take a while, but it’s doable. I also did more work on the first set of the linear 64 palms, which similarly is now remembered but looks ugly when I go through it.
Tomorrow I need to work on the second set of the 64 – I would like to have it remembered to some extent at least before I meet Sun Lao Shi on Sunday. Not sure if it will happen, though.
I really enjoyed the early morning training sessions; I’ll have to try to do it more often. I totally failed to get up early yesterday and today though – I guess I need the incentive of having to meet someone.
Wednesday’s session was funny. Productive, but funny. For once, it was Sun Lao Shi who begged off early; he’d met up with friends the night before, and they’d had a lot of baijiu. It reminded me about a, shall we say, cultural disconnect I’ve run into before. In the West, teachers of the internal martial arts in particular seem to commonly fall into the “my body is a temple” school, spiritual, non-violent… I’ve certainly come from that frame of mind. In Asia, though – Singapore almost as much as China – masters of ‘internal’ styles drink, smoke, fight…. and in fact, are totally regular blokes, as we might say in the UK. Real down to earth fellers. Perhaps Daoist monks on their mountaintops live the way Westerners are thinking of… not many other people, though. Heh. The people in the UK who are full of “taiji is like a Chinese yoga” need to meet my teachers, and the other masters like them, that’s all I can say!
I was interviewed by BBC Radio today, and got commissioned to write a magazine article – both about the Olympic experience… It seems to be a media month for me…