I write this final post from Wudangshan with only 48 hours of my trip left and find myself with conflicting emotions.
I've spent my final week refining the two Forms I have completed and begun taking instruction in the practise of 'Pushing Hands', which is an element of Tai Chi that involves working with a partner. It is as close to competitive as Tai Chi gets and helps increase awareness of your own sensitivity to physical pressure and your partner's tension, strength and softness. Thanks to Shifu's instruction I have become aware of the now all too apparent limitations of muscular strength and power when matched against flexibility and dexterity. I have received several valuable lessons since beginning 'Pushing Hands' lessons and intend to continue its practise when back home.
It has actually been a very relaxed week, which has enabled me to focus less on the mechanical movements and more on the breath work and pace of the Forms. I have also devoted more time to stretching and increasing my flexibility.
On Thursday we will celebrate The Dragon Boat Festival and all students have been invited to perform for the school after a celebratory and communal meal. I have taken some bamboo flute lessons and will perform a tune called 'Farewell,' which seems appropriate. Some of my friends are performing Qi Gong exercises to The Macarena, which should be entertaining! It'll provide a refreshing break from our training schedule and also a nice way to spend my final evening in Wudangshan. The timing of it all is perfect, of course.
While trying to stay present as much as possible, my mind has begun to wander. I have found myself planning lessons, examining where and how I can expand my classes, while also arranging family get togethers. I have also questioned how much I can expect of myself in any attempt to maintain a good level of practise once I'm back in London, with all the distractions that are to be found there.
A part of me desires to continue living this way - to devote myself solely to the study of Tai Chi and the self exploration it promotes. But the joy I feel when teaching, seeing a student take those small steps of progress, listening to the laughter and mayhem at The Big Xperience or introducing increased flexibility and balance to the pupils of New City Primary School...I know I am blessed. I am very grateful for the opportunity to practise my chosen art but also introduce it to others and witness the positive effects it has.
Thank you again to my friends and family, students, Masters and Tai Chi brothers and sisters for all the support and valuable lessons you've provided me with. I am very grateful to you all.
Keith Abraham Playful Dragons