After one full week of training the one day of rest we get was gratefully received. Earlier in the week I imagined myself practising Qi Gong even on my day off but my body flat out refused. Instead I found a place that makes one inch thick banana pancakes and devoured them (no time for mindful eating in those circumstances!) Behind our school you can easily access the peace and quiet of the mountains with its butterflies and birds, rivers and lakes, temples and trees. My pancakes gave me enough energy to take a short wander down some of the trails and I was rewarded with stillness and beauty.
For some time I have enjoyed preparing and drinking loose leaf teas. I find it calming and meditative but also delicious, and I'm sure some of my students would agree. Last night I found a full ceremonial tea set and table in one of the meditation rooms and after I had sat down and prepared some tea for myself my Master entered, sat down and began playing a Guqin (a type of Chinese stringed instrument like a horizontal cello). I sat there drinking my tea with only my Master's music for company. The beauty of the moment was not lost on me. Shortly after, some of my classmates joined me and we all shared the experience together.
With each new class my understanding of the mechanical movements increases and I push forward into the 28 Form (check out the video of my progress on Facebook). With each move my instructor ensures I also grasp the martial application and it is only adding to my enjoyment and appreciation of the Form. There are throat strikes, elbow breaks and shin kicks, so it's now much more than just a 'moving mediation', dance or exercise. It's all those things and, of course, a brutally efficient system of self defence.
I entitled this post Kung Fu Hustle because I have seen an old lady walking around the school wearing a quilted flowery jacket and sun visor. I thought she was a cleaner but it turns out she's a Bagua instructor!! During her warm up she stands in front of a tree, raises her knee up and extends her foot up above her head and rests her heel on the tree. She stretches her hamstring in the standing splits and she must be well over 70 years old!! She's incredible! I have since found out that all staff here know Kung Fu. Even the cooks and the cleaners!! What a place!
Tonight, I have just found out some of my classmates and I have been selected to perform on Chinese TV in Beijing later next month on an all expenses paid trip to the capital! What an opportunity! More details will follow, of course.
My next post should come following my visit to The Five Immortals Temple on White Horse Peak. I'll try to add more photos and videos as I go.
Keith Abraham Playful Dragon