Punching with bricks

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


  1. Good to hear you like the ambience so much! (Sounds too uncomfortable (cold) for me, though! 😀 )

    I think the last move you talked about is probably “pizhang”…


  2. Ingrained inhibitions? Get hit in the face seriously a fiew times and you will change your mind set rather quick, wanting to hit back.
    No, seriously, I’ve got my own: As my former master, who passed in 2002, always wanted us to learn his acupuncture, too, I signed up twice for intensive courses, but every time we finished theory and started to work on each other with needles, I just could not cope and had to quitt. So, I never learned his healing aspects in deepth and he not only once scoulded me for not having all, hurting and healing.
    But what can you do? It was always against my nature to be with sick people, not to talk about healing. Also a problem in teaching IMA in Europe, as there are too many people who show up with lots of sickness, mentally and physiologically.
    But your training sounds great, keep the hot breath in the cold air.


  3. @Ed – Ah, yes, that’s it!

    @Yiming – Heh, well, I will work on it and try to get over this inhibition, but I think I’ll try to find a different method! Just out of interest, did you teach IMA in Europe, or are you talking generally?


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