First yiquan class with Yao Cheng Rong

I am so tired I can barely raise my arms above my head, which I don’t think has happened since I first took Muay Thai back in the mid-90s.

I made it to the class just before it started at 7, paid up my membership, and changed.

The class was pretty big – I didn’t actually do a headcount, but I would say there were over 20 people there, which just about filled the room. Most, I would say are in their 30s or 40s, with a few outliers on either end. There were several women, and two other foreigners beside me: Nicolai, from France, and Matt (Matteo?) from Italy. Both have been studying yiquan for some time, and had extensive experience of other styles before that.

Master Yao addressed the class for a few minutes, and then we went through group drills on zhan zhuang and other basic moves for about 30 minutes. Then we went into tui shou (push hands) for about 45 min. I suck at this, big time – it’s totally different from taiji (which I knew in advance, of course!). I found that I just couldn’t fight back; I have no strength, and haven’t got the sensitivity or angles to trap my opponent. After a short while, I was just too tired to carry on! It seems to be my old problem of very stiff shoulders that’s the main issue here (apart from bad weighting, and about a dozen other things!).

I did a bit of free sparring with Nicolai, who put me into an elbow lock that’s really going to hurt tomorrow. Both he and Matt, were very generous with their advice. Cool.

There was a really good atmosphere there; everyone was very serious about what they were doing, but friendly – no bad attitudes at all.

At the end, Master Yao gave another summing talk to the class, and called me out to introduce myself. Nice, it all felt very welcoming.

Next class Wednesday night. I’m embarrassed somewhat by my ineptitude, but what the heck – if I keep on training like this, I’ve no doubt that I’ll get it, and be able to use it, which I can’t say for some of my other styles! I’m also going to get a lot fitter, which is no bad thing.

So, now it’s time for a hot shower, and sleep. My gosh, I’m worn out, and have the fighting ability of a kitten. Well, the only way is up…

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