China 2019 – Day 3, Saturday, 20th July

A slightly slower start to the day today, as it’s a Saturday and not a regular training day.

First thing in the morning after seeking out some fine Yunnan coffee in Jima Village, I headed out on foot to find the nearby Yulong river.

Just a 5 minute walk out of the village and I found myself surrounded by paddy fields and karsk mountains on all sides – and the occasional passing scooter, sometimes accompanied with a ‘hello’ and a smile from a rider or passenger. This is one of my most favourite things to do in China – disappear into the countryside, say ‘Nihao’ to the locals and discover some awe inspiring scenery, whilst wondering if I am actually a little bit lost.

After walking through a couple of villages it didn’t take long to find a path down to the river and a picture perfect scene as a bamboo raft gracefully sailed by with tourists on board, karst mountains dominating the skyline like giant molehills jutting out of the landscape.

I didn’t see any giant moles but there were plenty of giant butterflies fluttering around as I took a lovely stroll along the river – doubling back on myself (I’m saving a longer walk for Sunday!) I headed back to Jima via a cafe with a cool outdoor space made out of bamboo, the waitress kindly giving me a fan as well as orange juice.

Once back in Jima I decided to head to the coffee shop I frequented yesterday to try out a bit more Mandarin – she looked very pleased to see me, and gave me some very nice local grapes and Asian pears – probably to shut me up so that I didn’t try speaking anymore Mandarin!

Then it was back to the tai chi school for lunch, a bit of a stretch and some tai chi practice in the sun before a mid afternoon rest in preparation for the private lesson I booked for later in the day…

…and what a lesson it was! I’m very much enjoying a focus on pushing hands the last couple of days, and again I was given a master class in rooting, sinking, shifting and yielding – really bringing the key principles of tai chi to life.

Then onto a weapon I’ve waited quite a while to get my hands on. As most of my WCA and WCO followers and students will know, I’m a huge fan of swords but as yet hadn’t learnt the tai chi broadsword – initially working on basic movements, I was then taught the opening sequences of the Chen broadsword form – and it felt great!

I always say that the best way to get good at martial arts is to find excuses to train, rather than reasons not to… and with that philosophy firmly entrenched into my psyche, I spent the next few hours repeating everything I’ve learnt the last couple of days time and time again in the sticky, humid heat of the evening.

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