Kungfu means hard work in Chinese and it means hard work for me too as someone who loves martial arts without being naturally talented at it. So, if it takes hard work then that is what I will try to do especially as my progress and fitness has had quite a hiccup when i suffered a brain haemorrhage nearly two years ago. Every morning at 7.00 I have been doing an hour of training in my taichi and kungfu patterns along with some chigong exercises and beginning with a five minute standing meditation with knees bent and body positioned into the best horse stance that I can summon at that time in the morning. This routine continued even when I was on holiday this year in Greece, Switzerland and Italy and, I am beginning to discover, that martial arts practice is like having your own portable gym. I have been saluting the sun all over Europe this summer but this morning i did it as it rose over my tiny Lewes garden where more often than not these days, I have been saluting and standing in the rain too.
Meditation is all very well as long as I allow my eye, every now and then, to run over the garden to see what jobs need doing. A bit of rose deadheading is now part of the routine. Then it is time for three attempts at my 66 move taichi form which is an instant awakener and a euphoric way to start the day….
….just as it had been on a rooftop earlier this summer in Santorini in the Greek islands…..
…outside Michelangelo’s church of San Lorenzo in Florence……
…and by the Grand Canal in Venice.
It has been highly enjoyable taking my Southern Chinese White Crane Kungfu style with me on my travels and now that I am back I often imagine being in some of those places – none more vivid than the park in Fouchou in Southern China where taichi was accompanied by the early morning roaring of a lion in the local zoo across the lake.
I enjoyed doing my chinese straight sword pattern too in the soaring heat in places like Paros in the Cyclades…..
..or in the cool mountain air at the summit of Mount Rigi in Switzerland.
Back in my garden though, it may be somewhat less exotic but it is my space and I can bash my York Stone slabs as much as I like but, every morning, rain or shine, I now move on to my kungfu patterns which I repeat three times, stopping between each to try and correct some of my many faults. Recently, I have been working hard as a foot soldier, trying to correct those wayward feet that do everything they can to avoid the strictly drilled correct kungfu stance so I hope my instructor Neil Johnson -http//www.whitecranefightingarts.com – is not looking at this.
When the patterns are done, I warm down with some chigong exercises facing the rising sun and finish with the dreaded low horse stance where you sink to the most challenging of positions and hold it for as long as you can so, every morning I try to stay down there a little bit longer
I am now well into my second month of this routine and, after two years of progressive recovery from my brain haemorrhage and fractured spine, I can honestly thank those clever Chinese who invented this system. The other day I wondered what was different about my arm then I realized that my muscles are returning. It is worth all the hard work to begin to feel normal again. It makes breakfast taste extra good too.