Thursday, May 5, 2016

Nanjing, Day 9 and 10

Day 9

Unfortunately, massive rain this morning. I got the messages on WeChat that everyone was sleeping in. I walked over to the park in the rain at about 7:30am, but it was torrential, and I decided no practice would happen this morning. Lo and behold, the rain let up around 10:30am, and I started to get messages that Shifu would meet us in the park if we wanted to train. A few of us met Shifu, and we got another 2 hours of practice in on the new sword form. One of his students asked how long I had been working on the 42 sword, and I said "since yesterday, with all of you." She looked surprised, and then laughed as she told me they had been working on the form for over 3 weeks. Ah ha, that's why they all looked so good. Well, I was happy I kept up, and didn't feel so terrible any more...

After, Melody met us for another amazing lunch at Li's restaurant. We had lots of food as Shifu explained the intricacies of "second wife" in China, its history, and current practices. Melody was very good humored about it, and a bit surprised at all the drama in Chinese relationships. 

In the afternoon we made our way to Librarie Avant Garde, a very cool bookstore I visited on my last trip that has been built into an old underground parking garage near the People's Stadium. Though most of the books are in Chinese, the vibe is incredible. Every weekend there are signing events and lectures with authors, there is a great coffee shop, and the sheer quantity and quality of books is overwhelming. Every classic title I could think of from the west has been translated into Chinese, and is available here in multiple formats. I found a few TCM books, and a great translation of the Dao de Jing. It was a wet, sloggy day, but we had fun (though by the time we landed in Los Angeles 2 days later the wet and cold took it's toll on Melody).

Day 10

Our final day, and I definitely felt like I needed more time in Nanjing. The sun came out, and I made my way to the park. I saw Gao shifu one more time, and we worked on the Chen form for a bit. He seemed pleased with the corrections, and I'm excited to work them into my own class back in Los Angeles. Even with all my videos, notes and diligent practice little pieces begin to slide, and change shape.

At 7:30am the rest of Da Shifu's class started to roll into the park and we jumped right into the forms. In the park there is rarely any kind of warmup. Sometimes in the beginners class the teacher will lead everyone through some basic drills and qigong, but if you're with a serious teacher its expected that you will arrive early and be ready to work when he gets there.

We worked through another section of the form for a couple hours, and slowly the rest of the class faded away, sad goodbyes, but I promised to return in the fall. By 10:30 it was just me, Shifu, his son, and another student. We worked through each section of the form, and in between gave form demonstrations for the passersby.

At one point a new student came by and showed us a taiji form created by the Red Army. It was painfully long, and full of power, as it was mainly based on Chen movements.

By noon I had the whole form. My hips and knees were tortured from all the low stances, and the desire to impress both Shifu, and the continuous parade of onlookers. There were many photos taken, and video from the audience (I've been told there is video on Youku, the Chinese version of Youtube). Shifu was happy, and I was pleased to get the whole form in such a short time. We said our goodbyes, and I prepared for the long trip home….