Some memories of last year’s Dog Boxing in Southern China

I had a webcam call from China this morning from my friends who are doing the trip that I should have gone on if I hadn’t had a brain haemorrhage and fractured my spine. They have been very kind and diluted the disappointment by keeping me in touch with what they have been doing over there.

The main reason for going is to learn the second Dog Style Kung Fu, or Dog Boxing, pattern. Last year, when I was still healthy, I went too and learnt the first pattern which was pretty daunting with its backward and forwards rolls.

I took these photographs on our first day, last February, when Master Zai Pei Lin, our principal teacher out there, got his son, Zhenquan Lin, to show us the complete pattern. After seeing it, I nearly went for the first flight home thinking that I could never do anything like this.

Perseverance paid off though, a very painful hip and loads of public humiliation later, I actually managed to do all the moves well enough not to provoke laughter and ridicule.

I would be so happy if I could get back to being half as good as that again.

Today they showed me the first part of this new pattern with the hope that when I recover I will be able to learn it over here in Britain.

It is amazing how I could be part of their practice again but this time with all those miles between us. Me in Southern England and them away on the other side of the World in Fuzhou, Southern China.

I may still have a long way to go before my brain haemorrhage heals – maybe two years – but my fractured spine and torn body muscles are getting better and, as well as practicing all 66 moves of my tai chi form and a slow motion version of my first four kung fu patterns, I have started to do the 14 move Da Mo moving meditation form which is something I used to do every morning as the best possible way of starting a new day.

I have been put off by the very first move which involves stretching upwards and then leaning over to touch the ground before gradually raising the whole body again to the original position. The bending over is just too much for my injured brain at the moment – I tried it yesterday and got an alarming rush of blood to the head which warned me to stop immediately.

One of the miracles of modern technology and one of the great things about having such a dedicated instructor, Neil Johnson, was that I was able to talk this through with him on the webcam and have the luxury of an intercontinental kung fu lesson on how I could adapt the move to avoid hurting my brain.

So thanks guys, Neil and the other three for including me in this exciting journey. I don’t feel nearly so left behind now.

I am also inspired to get my spine better so that I can start to learn that second pattern even though it has just as many impossibilities and challenges for an uncoordinated wolf.

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