I was exhausted when I got back home, so my last post was rather brief!
I was late leaving for class; I’d got up early to find the rain made the early-morning class with Sun Lao Shi impossible, so blogged and then faffed around instead. I left the university at about the right time… and then didn’t, because the back tyre of my bicycle had gone flat overnight. That means a puncture, and I haven’t got the tools to get the wheel off. There’s a guy who does bicycle repairs in the building next to mine, but he wasn’t there that early. I hung around for a while, but he didn’t show, so in the end I had to take the bus to Wudaokou.
On the subway round about Dongzhimen I was sitting next to an attractive young lady. We both stood up to give our seats to a man with a small child, and that got us talking. She spoke no English, so it wasn’t much of a conversation, though. She’s from Henan, and works for a German company, I got that much. She got off at Chaoyangmen as well, and went the same way as me for a short while; she had a map downloaded off the web and was looking for something, though I didn’t quite understand what. Anyway, we exchanged cards, and when I got online yesterday afternoon I checked out her company’s website – it seems she works for a state-owned counter-surveillance company! Wow. A bit of Googling shows that there’s been foreign investment in it, which is probably where the German bit comes in. I really should talk to random people on the subway more often!
At the Academy, I spent the morning working on downward hook punches; first static, and then stepping. Hard work, for me! The Japanese student arrived mid-morning with the other guy, the one with the gravelly voice; this one never trains. Instead he just sits, smokes cigarettes, and chats. He seems pretty tough, though, and I really get the impression that he’s a minder of some sort for the first guy as they seem to go everywhere together! It makes we wonder who the Japanese student is… I asked Li Xin, but he only said that the Japanese guy’s a fairly long-term student, who’s been training with Master Yao for about 3 years. They were filming again, so Li Xin and I moved outside to practice at the end of the street; this is where a lot of the live-in students have been going to practice when the basement gets really hot, I think. There were a few tots being looked after by their grannies; the kiddies were fascinated by the waiguoren puffing and gasping as he boxed, and some of the grannies gamely ventured to throw a few hooks themselves. Ahh, I love Beijing 😀 After I’d done this for an hour or so, we moved on to another fa li exercise, the name of which I forget, a horizontal, slightly rising, chopping move.
Around 12, I figured time was up, so I mentioned to Li Xin I was going to get lunch. He took me back to the Academy because Yao Lao Shi, for some reason, wanted me to be filmed doing a bit of sparring – I’m really not sure why. It didn’t go so well, because I really wasn’t clear what they were asking me to do – it was a kind of back and forth exercise, landing a punch on the opponent’s back hand, freezing, then moving backward so your opponent could land a punch on your back hand, and so on. Heh. I dunno. Anyway, after this Li Xin let me know that we’d come to the end of the fourth module, so the last payment was finished. For me, that seemed to be a good place to stop, with the last three sessions of the week being revision.
I went down to Jianguomen for lunch, and spent the afternoon in Starbucks at the Friendship Store. I was so tired, I almost fell asleep in the window seat. A friend on Twitter informed me that she’d actually done this; apparently, the staff come around and poke you to wake you up! There was another regular customer there, a Chinese woman who always seems to wear the same floral, vaguely cheongsam-styled, dress and a gauzy scarf. Her hair is cut quite short, and she always seems to be in a rush. She carries a big plastic bag, but I’m not sure what’s in it; I always feel torn between wondering whether she’s a creative media type or some sort of street person! Heh, she seems nice, though, and we smile at each other. Guess I’ll not know, since I won’t be back down that way for some time.
I went back to the Academy at 5. Li Xin was taking a new Chinese student through the basics, and really giving him a hard time. I suppose he needs to establish himself as top dog. After about an hour of revision, I decided to head on. By this time Master Yao and the Japanese were back again and doing more filming, and the place was getting crowded, so it seemed like an opportune time.
I have things to do on campus which I wouldn’t be able do till next week if I was going to the Academy today, and they do need to be done, so I decided that I wouldn’t go back today. So, I said my farewells, and thanked Master Yao. He said to just give him a call if I want to go back at any time. I probably will – perhaps in the break after next semester, and maybe on the occasional weekend before that.
So, that was the end of my training at the Yiquan Academy. It feels odd that it’s over, after being immersed in that world for three weeks.
After that it was home, stopping once more for dumplings and beer at Gulou, since that’s also not going to be on my route much from now on.
OK, I’ll write it all up soon, once I’m more rested and I’ve got my chores done.