My last day of training. It was incredibly hot. In fact it was so hot that I felt quiet sick. After a few spirited wrestles I began to feel light headed and weak, I was drenched in sweat and eventually I had to run out of the gym to be sick.
I remember this happened before on a couple of occasions when I was learning Tai chi in China. I had just finished a grueling push hands exercises were I had to push and pull someone up and down the training area, then at the end we did some standing meditation. This was when I started to get the jelly legs and blurred vision and thankfully under the watchful eye of my Taiji Master I was safely seated and given a glass of hot salty sugar water(yum!). This time it was not as bad at all but I did have to rest for a bit.
Anyway after a rest it was time to say good bye to everyone. Which is one thing I don’t think I will ever get used to. A lot of people in China just don’t say good bye!, they just walk off. The odd student came up and gave me a huge but the rest just went away without saying goodbye. It’s not that they are being rude or that they hate me (I hope they don’t hate me), it just a Chinese thing.
I remember when I was in China before when I went to my Master Fu’s home town and met his family and went to the grave cleaning ceremony, which involved a day hike were we went and watched the family clean the ancestors graves and offer them crispy duck, fruit and wine. Then we all ate crisps and cola and sweets and left all the wrappers on the mountain side, considering this was a family of about 25 people all eating snacks there was quite a mess, plus all the fireworks as well. Also being the prime idiot that I am when I was handed a supple skinned thin vine I of course ate it, it was bitter and disgusting and I hated it. It made my mouth all dry and weird. Later I saw that Master Fu’s family had tied the vines around their heads.
Ah well, you live, you eat vines, feel silly and then learn.
The main point for me talking about all this is that at the end when the army of brothers and sisters and children were leaving they just walked out the door without saying goodbye. This was the first time I had seen this and I was very shocked. The odd one gave a little grunt as they walked out the door but that was it, and it’s not like they were going to see each other very soon, Master Fu said they only meet up once or twice a year.
So I said goodbye to the wrestlers or rather I watched them leave without saying goodbye. Later that evening Chaiyi and I went to say goodbye to Coach Ma. He gave me a miniature wrestling waist coat and a pointy Mongolian hat which he got when he went to compete in a Mongolian Nadaam competition. I expressed my interest to go to Mongolia one day to try wrestling and Coach Ma warned me ‘’ you must be careful if you do they will break you’’. Coach Ma showed us pictures of the trip he made to France. There was a competition there many years ago and he went to compete. He told us a funny story; he went to a super market in France to buy some wine to take back to China. When he got back to China he took the bottle to a dinner party and they opened it and drank. They all found it very bitter and disgusting to drink. It wasn’t till they had drunk a fair amount of it that they finally realized it was in fact vinegar.
When Chaiyi and I left Coach Ma went a little red in the face and he began to cry ever so slightly. We walked away from his house and he waved us all the way down the street until we turned the corner.
The next day we said goodbye to Chaiyi’s parents. They watched us pack our bags, they insisted on riding in the taxi with us to the train station and they even bought tickets to be able to come onto the platform with us but when we were finally getting onto the train they just stood there and watched. I followed Chaiyi’s lead and got on the train and we sat next to the window and watched as they watched us. As the train geared up and pulled out of the station they had one last look at us a quick wave and then they turned and left.
We were on our way to Tai Yuan, the capital of Shanxi province. From there we will get a flight down to Guilin in Guangxi province in the south of China. When I was 20 years old my brother and I travelled to a small village in Guilin called Yang shuo. I stayed there for a year and a half practicing Chen Tai chi. it was a big changing point in my life and the place has a lot of significance for me. I met Chaiyi there; it was the first time I had lived away from my family and all that as well as living in a different country had a profound changing effect upon me. Now almost two year later we are going back again. I will practice Tai chi again in my old school for 3 weeks before we travel down to Malaysia to Penang Island where I plan to spend a year learning various martial arts like Silat, Krabi Krabong and Escrima.