So, to bring you up to date, here’s a quick summary of what’s been happening… This time last year, I was all excited by Tom Bisio’s online bagua course and by what I’d learned at Master Mantak Chia’s Tao Garden summer retreat. Of course, things didn’t go as I expected.
First of all, I worked on the bagua, and learned the basic circle form. Thoroughly enjoyed it. However… I found that practising it consistently led to pain in my right knee. This was made worse by my constant chasing around airports and railway stations for work, pulling a suitcase behind me. By late December, my knee was hurting so much that I had to walk with a stick, which amused my colleagues but most certainly did not amuse me.
Secondly, although I was practising consistently with the qigong forms I’d covered with Master Chia, something wasn’t working. As I went through the forms, I felt qi moving, but once I finished, there was nothing there; not the accumulation of qi I was expecting. It felt like a laptop with a dead battery: good while the power lead is plugged in, but not saving any power. Something was missing, something preliminary to the forms I’d learned.
At first, I was afraid that the pain in my knee was arthritis, something starting to afflict friends of my own age. However, experimentation suggested that it was the ligaments on one side of the knee, and the ends of the muscles they attached to, which were inflamed and painful. The problem, I determined, was posture; one side of the knee was being overloaded.
As I pondered the problem with my qi, I recalled that I’d had a powerful response when I revisited Bruce Frantzis’ “I Chuan” DVDs, in which he goes through eight basic zhan zhuang stances along with qi work. So I took another look, did a bit of work with them, and felt things happening.
So, I concluded: to address both problems, I needed to start zhan zhuang again.
This led, in late March, to me starting to stand for an hour or so each day next to the Liangma canal, near my office in Beijing. By this time, winter’s grip was loosening, and although it was still cold, it was bearable. As the weeks passed, the last of the ice melted, and the bare branches of the willows developed a faint fuzz of green. This rapidly became the first leaves of spring, and as April approached May, standing on the fishing deck became a pleasure.
Then synchronicity struck.
Via the Energy Arts mailing list, I discovered that Bruce Frantzis was launching an online course in zhan zhuang qigong. Like most of his offerings, it’s not particularly cheap, but after looking at the contents, I decided it would be worth it. I signed up.
At around the same time, Andrzey Kalisz announced on his International Yiquan Academy website that he was arranging a one-week June intensive course in Beijing with Master Yao Chengguang – with whom I first studied yiquan back in 2008. I’ve always said yiquan absolutely rocks, I was keen to get back into it and – by great luck – the scheduled dates were a period when I was able to fit them in with my work schedule. I signed up.
I’ve already written about the week at Master Yao’s wuguan. It was great, I learned a lot, enjoyed myself thoroughly, and had my love for yiquan absolutely rekindled. This has led to further developments, which I’ll post about separately.
Bruce Frantzis’ course is also awesome. At the time of writing, we’re now in month eight of twelve. The material is in-depth and clearly presented, and I’m observing noticeable effects. It’s not – as yet – addressed all of the issues that I was finding with my qi, but it may be that this will be addressed in a separate online learning circle, which I’m currently contemplating joining.
The two – zhan zhuang qigong and yiquan – complement each other very well. I still intend to return to baguazhang in the future, but I need to finish what I’ve started with yiquan first. I also intend to continue with Master Chia’s material, as he covers things which I want, but which Bruce – to the best of my knowledge, doesn’t teach. But for now, these are future goals.