Bagua where the rivers meet

I was up at 5 again today – well (cough) I almost was – and met Sun Lao Shi just a little bit late. We moved to a different location, a promontory at the junction of two small rivers, with willows all around, and a small pagoda. The place where we’ve been the last few times seems to have been turned into a storage dump for building materials, and is now swarming with migrant workers and rentacops.

Our new location is pretty busy as well – a number of people (mostly retirees, it seems) were practising taijiquan and qigong. Nobody got in anyone’s way, though, and every seemed friendly and chatty.

We worked on the basic set for a while, particularly the transitions, before reviewing the ba da zhang. As I mentioned before, I have this memorised now, and Sun Lao Shi was able to start working on the details. He did this by starting to review applications, which helped a lot. Very cool. After that we moved on to the first two sets of the linear 64 palms. I’ve got the first, more or less, but I’m still having a lot of trouble with the second. I’ve filmed him doing this,
so I have something to work with during solo practice.

He had his short staff with him; I think that before I arrived, he’d been working on the Shanxi whipstaff form – heh, I hope so, because I definitely want to learn it! First things first, of course; let’s make a lot more progress with the bagua. I’ll meet him again on Friday morning, and then I think we’ll be taking a short break as he gets more involved in the summer camp. It’s a good time to review how far I’ve progressed… When I first met him, I was expecting to leave permanently in August, and he drew up a curriculum based on that. I’ve only achieved about 75% of that – due in large part to the job being a lot more time-consuming and tiring than I expected, leaving me less time and energy to practice between classes. I guess it’s also true that since I decided to stay in Beijing, I’ve slackened off a bit, as there’s less time pressure. These early-morning sessions are really good, though; very productive. I hope I’ll be able to continue them once term begins again…

At 8 we wrapped up, and I cycled down to Lush at Wudaokou to grab breakfast, before heading down to the Yiquan Academy for day two…

BTW, on the subject of the subway… Every time I’ve taken the subway in the last few days I’ve been stopped and had my bag checked in the new airport-style bag scanners. It isn’t just me, it’s everyone – they’re being very strict. I asked one of the police whether, as I’m studying wushu, I would be allowed to bring in my practice weapons…. and the answer was an unequivocal ‘no’. Since my bagua needles are actually fully functional weapons, I now have no intention of trying
to take them on the subway; it would mean confiscation at best, I think, and who knows what at worst. My alternatives seem to be taking taxis everywhere on Saturdays (including my class with Master Sun Zhi Jun, plus everywhere I go before and afterwards), which would cost me a fortune – or, stopping classes a couple of weeks early, and hoping it all gets a bit more relaxed after I get back from Singapore, by which time most of the Olympic events will be finished…

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