China 2019 – Day 4, Sunday, 21st July

Heat and humidity meant a lack of sleep last night and a slightly later start to the day today but as planned yesterday, I had a longer walk along the river to see if I could follow it all the way to Yangshuo, the closest town.

The closer I got, the more tourists I saw on bamboo rafts and cycling along the path – I like to get away from things so this wasn’t a good sign – although the scenery continued to astound… it really is beautiful along the river.

After walking for a couple of hours I reached quite a built up area about 5km outside of Yangshuo, sat for a little rest to prepare for a final push into town, when a young guy on a moped stopped and asked if I wanted to go somewhere.

Demonstrating the tai chi principles of energy preservation and conservation of movement – along with the common sense principle of not wanting my blisters to get any more painful, I gratefully took him up on his offer and for a nominal fee, I was whisked into town on the back of an electric scooter.

I’ll head back and explore Yangshuo a little more at some point but it was quite a bustling little town, lots of nice looking Chinese eateries serving the local specialities of beer fish (got to try that one) and Guilin noodles.

So a quick walk around and then a taxi back to my small and quiet Jima safe haven, a quick lunch and then a couple of hours tai chi practice in the wet and humid afternoon heat (including a torrential downpour and some loud thunder).

One of the great things about being here training is the opportunity to try something different and new, I feel like a beginner again – both in Tai Chi and in Mandarin. I think it’s so important in a person’s continual development to keep on seeking challenges, learn new things.

Complacency and comfort zones are two of our greatest enemies!

Putting yourself in a position where you are a beginner is also a great way to keep your ego in check – and in the martial arts world egos can run wild!!! Especially among instructors.

Running your own classes and clubs it’s easy to imagine yourself upon a pedestal, as you are obviously going to be the top of the tree in your organisation – and occasionally students can place you upon one (luckily none of mine do but if they did, I’d ride down from the heavens on my giant white crane and tell them that I was actually a mere mortal, obviously).

I love coming here and getting my ass kicked at pushing hands, scratching my head as to how a new move works in a form, or a how a subtle shift of the hips can be the difference between standing and falling, grasping to find the meaning in what someone is talking to me about in Mandarin – and gradually, inch by inch you find yourself slowing improving…

What’s more, as an instructor, it’s good to remind yourself how a new student feels when starting to learn a tai chi form – and for my students back home, it’s good for them to know that I’m being given the same treatment that I subject them to week in week out in classes 🙂

Evening was spent having some very tasty red tea after dinner, some more forms training – accompanied with occasional leg slap or mid air clap as I worked on my self defence from mosquitoes!

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