Happy mooncake day

Well, the new semester has started, and I’ve been busy, busy, busy. It’s nice to be working again, after the long break, to be honest.

I was really impressed by an article in the Times, Be prepared – take evening classes in facing ruin. It starts off by discussing a recent murder-suicide case in the UK, but gets more philosophical. I’ve certainly faced a few ups and downs over the years, and I have to agree with the writer’s conclusions. In fact, they’re very compatible with Buddhist philosophy; success and misfortune are all transient. Remain equanimous either way; they are not you.

I’ve had a few swings of fortune even over the last week or so – reminders that great opportunities can appear unlooked-for, and that disaster can strike from nowhere. The disaster was narrowly averted; the opportunities are being explored… life goes on.

Most topical for this blog: I’ve come to a complete stop recently when it comes to martial arts. As I’ve often said, I’ve considered the last few years to be research, looking to find the right styles and the right teacher. About halfway through the summer break, I had finally decided that I’d found them. So, with the research over, it was time to get started… And at that point, I had a massive attack of nerves over the task ahead, and a complete failure of belief in my ability to ever progress. Gah! Well, after a couple of weeks, I’m kind of back on track, ready to get started, step by step.

I’ll be recommencing bagua lessons with Master Sun Ru Xian next weekend; I need a bit of time to review first. I don’t think I’ll be re-starting the bagua pan guan bi with Mi Lao Shi, and Master Sun Zhijun; fun though it is, if I’m not going to train all-round with them, I think I’d better concentrate on studying bagua with just one teacher, Sun Ru Xian.

I do also want to get into the yiquan. I knew that the lineage holder, Master Yao Chengrong has his school near my new apartment, and last week I went to see where it was. It was a wet, rainy evening, and the map on the website was only partially helpful. I spent quite a long time wandering around various hutongs, which was pretty interesting in itself. Lots of the siheuyuan near the school are much larger and grander than those near my apartment, with lots of moon gates leading to the street. Perhaps they used to belong to a higher social class, or – I suspect – they were military buildings. The west of Beijing, where I now live, was traditionally the base for the army, whereas the east was for the civil administration; even to this day, the east is a much more fashionable place to live!

Eventually, I found the school, tucked away inside a courtyard. There wasn’t any activity, but that suited me; I hadn’t gone to talk to anybody, just to get my bearings, and establish how close it really was – about 10 minutes’ walk at most, it turned out. Once I’ve got my classes settled down, ie in a couple of weeks most likely, I’ll get in touch and see if I can join a class; looking at the schedule on the website, I would perhaps want to do one evening class and Saturday afternoon, but we’ll see.

So, there we are; I’m gradually coming back up to speed. I caught up with Dragoncache last night; he’s training really hard, as always, with Master Sun Zhijun, and really putting me to shame with his dedication. Oh, I didn’t mention before that Master Sun Zhijun recently got married, to his third wife, I think (the first two having passed away).

Well, this is the Autumn Festival, so I’m going to eat some mooncakes. Have a good weekend, if you’re celebrating the festival (or even if you’re not!).


  1. Good to hear that you are going to focus more on certain arts (although it is a shame to lose some of those teachers, one does have to choose what is best for them). (I wonder if yiquan and baguazhang will conflict with each other, anyway, but – we will see I guess!)

    I do think it is doable, if you work hard enough, though (say, 2 hours of each per day? 🙂 )


  2. Hmm, something needs to be checked behind the scenes, as I didn’t receive the normal email notification about this comment…

    Anyway, yes, it’s a real shame – but simple fact is, there’s only so many hours in the day and RMB in the bank, so something had to give. I’ve reached the point where I have to focus, so… well, I have to choose what I think will help me the most.

    Will yiquan and bagua conflict? I don’t see that, based on my experience so far – but only trying it out will tell me!


  3. Hmm – well, you could try to bagua-fy the yiquan, perhaps (put a spiral in here, stick the knees together there 🙂 ).

    If you have seen Ren Zhicheng’s old book “Yinyang Bapanzhang,” you can see his method of training standing – a kind of twisty horse stance (horse stance, but with the knees stuck together). Kind of makes sense, in a bagua-sort of way!


  4. Hi Emlyn, I was reading some of your past entries and came across your comment in Sept 08 on whether there is a conflict between ba gua and yi quan. Based on your experience so far, is your conclusion still the same today?


  5. @Kim: Short answer: no. However, I don’t think that I, personally, should train both at the same time. I need to work on yiquan first, reach some level of competence, and then look at bagua again. I’m beginning (at last?) to understand why bagua is referred to as “martial arts graduate school”. There was a post recently on a similar point – perhaps on Formosa Neijia? I’ll try to find it, because I want to write more about this.


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