I went along to the bagua school again last night – I find I can’t say “I went to class” when the school is open every night and students drop in as and when they can…
I got there quite late (held up by things at work), and the teacher arrived at the same time. There were several people waiting – a couple of Chinese I hadn’t met before, and an American who’s studying xingyi ( I mentioned him before – he tends to go through his forms outside the building).
The teacher got me started on strength training, including:
– dropping into squats and then coming up into kicks
– punching exercises while holding bricks
– striking routines with a short length of scaffolding pole
– striking routines with a heavy 10-foot staff
and a few others. I haven’t done any strength- or aerobic training for a long time, so I was panting and sweating hard pretty quickly! The teacher told me, though, that just doing forms without this kind of work is empty training, and I agree. The American, who speaks much better Mandarin than I do, gave me some hints with the staff work, which was useful.
After some time spent on this training, I was put back to work on the bagua linear set. We reviewed what I’d done before – I ‘d forgotten some details – and then some new moves were introduced. As before, I spent most of the rest of the evening just repeating these, back and forth, back and forth. Cool.
One of the Chinese turned out to be a friend of the teachers, an expert in shuijiao (Chinese wrestling). While I was working on the forms, he spent some time in a tui shou session with the American; they seemed fairly evenly matched. After that, the American and I had a go; I managed to hold my own, somewhat to my surprise. By trying to stay calm, and responding naturally, I found that some of the yiquan techniques I’ve practised were effective.
Later, the American and Chinese had another session, but this time following wrestling rules – the Chinese guy won decisively!
Once again, I was struck by the ambience: the steaming breath as we all worked out; needing to wear a hat, or pull up a hood as soon as you stop moving; the sound of the train going by just outside the building….
I was hungry when I got home last night, but too tired to go out an eat! Today, of course, I’m aching. However, like I said before, this is the sort of training environment I’ve been looking for for a long time!
Oh, and a personal insight: one of the moves we practised was “pi quan” (?), a crushing, windmilling chop. Even with the teacher standing there telling me to hit him, I found it really difficult to do it. It was the same in last night’s tui shou, as well as in the yiquan classes: I actually have a strong and deeply ingrained inhibition against trying to hit someone. Not a bad thing, of course, but it’s good/useful to realize that it’s there