I went to yiquan class yesterday, and left again almost immediately. There were three of us there apart from Master Yao. I was standing in zhan zhuang and I couldn’t stop wondering whether I had flooded my apartment….

I’d put the washing machine on just before I left for class. Like in many apartments here, the washing machine is in my bathroom, and the outlet pipe isn’t plumbed in; I need to unroll it, and put it into my shower cubicle for the water to drain away. If I forget (done once, and caught in time) the water will quickly flood the bathroom and the water will rapidly move out into the living area….

So I was in zhan zhuang, and I couldn’t stop wondering whether I had remembered to unroll the outlet pipe… In the end, I decided I had to leave to go and check. It turned out I had, and there was no problem, but after that it seemed to be too late to go back.

So, I had class again today. We just worked on a couple of moves for the whole lesson, which is great for me – that’s the way I like to to learn. There were four Chinese students as well as myself, and a couple speak pretty good English. Master Yao was asking whether we had any questions. Some of the others did, I didn’t. I just watched as Master Yao corrected them, and he corrected me a few times as well.

A visitor arrived during the second hour – the German guy I mentioned previously – and Master Yao was outside talking to him for sometime. While he was outside, we starred doing a bit of tui shou; the moves I had been practising slowly turned out to be really useful for sensing and redirecting the opponent’s force, and for pushing along lines of stiffness to uproot. Hmmm, cool. One of the students who’s been there longer than me gave me some useful insights into generating fa li. He can do it from a static pose, but struggles during tui shou; he’s too eager, and signals that he’s about to use it. He said that he’d studied for a few years in New Zealand; apparently there’d been some trouble between Chinese students and some Maori, who are much bigger and stronger. He said he’d been able to use his kungfu to defend himself, but felt it was more luck than skill, which is why he’s begun to study yiquan now that he’s back in China.

The zhan zhuang is really good for my shoulder muscles; all of the muscles etc that have been chronically tense and stiff are slowly and painfully stretching and relaxing… I’m also noticing that my kua are opening a lot; the key to this was the backward and forward motion in various postures. As I go back, the weight falls on my hind leg, my head rises and spine stretches, and the heel of the forward leg rises slightly; as I sway forward, all of this reverses. At first, my forward knee would sway backwards and forwards as well, and Master Yao and other students repeatedly told me off about this – but I couldn’t work out how to stop it, and the keep the shin upright and the knee steady. Eventually, I realized that the key lies in stretching the muscles and ligaments in the hip joint… My next project is sinking my weight; I’ve improved a lot here, but during tui shou my weight rises too far, making me too easy to uproot…

Live and learn, live and learn…

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