Never mind the bullocks

Well, I’m back in Beijing, briefly.

It was great to be back in Wales. For the first time since I went into self-imposed exile in 2002, I am tempted to move back, drawn by the clean air, trees, history and community of my hometown. Of course, it’s a fantasy – I couldn’t afford to live there these days, even if there was work, which there isn’t (for me). And I might get quickly tired again of the rain! It rained for approximately 10 of the 12 days I was there, and that’s in the summer… Hehehe, if I had a pound for each time that I was told wistfully that I “lead such an interesting life”…. well, I would have had enough to buy a couple of pints! Unfortunately, this interesting life doesn’t pay, as I discovered when I changed my renminbi into pounds…

So anyway, I didn’t get anywhere near as much martial arts practice done as I’d hoped – only a few early-morning sessions, when the rain stopped and the sun emerged… Those were wonderful, though, as I stood in zhan zhuang, listening to the crows and pigeons, observing the rain drops shining from spider-webs in the grass, the apples on the trees ripening slowly…

Mostly, I worked on the CMC-37 set, and the ba mu zhang, both of which I’ve neglected for some time. I certainly felt good, and energised, afterwards. The zhan zhuang, and the insights I’ve had from yiquan, are definitely making my taiji better… I am very fond of the CMC-37 set; it’s where I started with martial arts. I see that Rennie Chong, with whom I studied in Singapore, has produced a DVD, which I’ll try to get hold of.

I managed to walk out twice to one of my favourite pubs, in a small country village a few miles from my home. The first time, I followed an old Roman road; the second, I walked along the route of the old local railway, which was closed down in the 1960s. This leads through farmland, and the footpath eventually leaves the railway line to go through fields. I had an encounter when what I thought was two cows on the other side of a distant fence turned out to be one cow on the other side of the fence, and an aggressive bullock on my side. Yikes. I had to make an emergency exit over a barbed-wire fence 🙂

My father, and an uncle, separately advised me afterwards to always carry a stick in cow country. According to them (and they grew up on a farm), if you stand your ground, a bullock will usually stop. Ha! It’s that ‘usually’ that worries me… Anyway, it seems that if the bullock doesn’t stop, the thing to do is to use the stick to smack it across the eyes, so that it can’t see you. Not an experiment that I would have liked to try, even if I had had a stick… Anyway, I got to the pub unscathed, though with torn trousers… but the pub is great, and I was lucky enough to have bright sunshine and blue skies both times I was there – wonderful for sitting outside with a tasty pint and the newspaper 🙂

Tonight, I’m off to Singapore…


  1. Hmph. Why do you practice yiquan and its tedious zhan zhuang then–if not to be able to fend off a rampaging bullock? I’m quite sure Wang Xiang Zhai would not have had a problem.

    ;- )


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