After a couple of months of inactivity I am back in my small Lewes courtyard garden doing my martial arts practice and it feels great. It would feel even greater if I was any good at it after all these years but I am not complaining, I have missed going through my motions and I can already feel the difference now that I have been doing it again daily for two weeks now after a difficult time when a bereavement brought back some of the neurological side effects from my brain haemorrhage and, if that wasn’t annoying enough, I also suffered the return of an old viral infection that takes painful control of my muscles. I am now feeling much better so I have begun the new year with a return to exercise. I am learning White Crane Kung Fu style that comes from Southern China and taught by my kung fu club White Crane Fighting Arts here in Lewes – see LINKS on the right side of this page.
This ancient style is based on a series of stylized animal or bird moves especially the graceful elegance of the White Crane and the power and ground control of the tiger.
I am a mere wolf, of course, and realize that I shall never achieve the supremacy of movement of either creature – I would settle for being a wolf too but, sadly, I am still, mostly, trapped inside a human body.
I still believe that an old wolf can learn new tricks so I am back in practice every morning with a routine that consists of an opening standing meditation facing the rising sun, followed by the deceptively challenging Da Mo meditation sequence of moves that stretches every muscle in the body including the lungs and other internal organs before ending in the infamous low horse stance. If you think it looks easy just try holding it for a few minutes with your back straight.
I then move on to the so-called “soft” style of Taichi, in my style called Suang-Yang and, in fact, also called Chinese boxing which consists of 66 moves in a continual sequence, practiced slowly and gracefully, if you can, with carefully controlled breathing.
It can look graceful, believe me, but I have to be content with something much more gallumping. This move is called The Golden Cockerel Stands On One Leg though when I do it, it should be called The Golden Cockerel Wobbles On One Leg. After two weeks, I am getting over that rubbery leg muscle feeling that tells me just how much leg strength is demanded by this style.
The Immortal Grinds The Mill can also be quite challenging if you are to keep moving to the next standing postion with any fluidity. It is an absorbing discipline which mostly keeps me calm even though I have to fight the eternal frustration of knowing that I will never be quite smooth or fluid enough. On only a few of occasions have I managed, in sparring with a willing opponent, to actually feel how much power can be generated by these deceptively gentle movements.
I then move on to practice my Chinese Straight Sword pattern – another piece of Chinese deception. It looks so beautiful, in the right hands, but is devastating in its accuracy. I love my sword but realize that I have a long way to go with this elegant pattern. The sequence of moves only just fits into my garden that is, sadly, much too small for my other weapon, the Seven And A Half Foot Staff – to practice that I will have to go to the local park.
With the sword put away, and with already challenged legs, I now go through my “hard” style Kung Fu patterns that gets me fired up for the day.
I do six of these patterns three times in a row and, at the end, feel truly exhilarated before ending the session with some gentler Chi-gong exercises which involve slow repetitive movements co-ordinated with long inhalations and exhalations of breath. I conclude with one final moment of standing meditation – and, maybe only briefly, time stands still.
It is now available as a paperback or on Kindle (go to your region’s Amazon site for Kindle orders)
…or from Amazon:
COLIN BELL’S PUBLICATIONS:
Stephen Dearsley’s Summer Of Love
Ward Wood Publishing
October 30, 2013
Genius Floored: Uncurtained Window
Soaring Penguin Press
June 15, 2013
Genius Floored: Whispers in Smoke
Soaring Penguin Press
June 6, 2014
Poetry and short story anthology
A Kind Of A Hurricane Press
The Blotter Magazine Inc.
Three pages of poetry in the American South’s unique, free, international literature and arts magazine.
The Fib Review
My Fibonacci poetry has appeared in this journal from 2009 until the present
Shot Glass Journal
Muse Pie Press
My poetry has appeared in various issues of this short form poetry journal
Every Day Poets Magazine
Every Day Poets
I have various poems of the day published in this 365 days a year poetry magazine.
In The Night Count The Stars
March 1, 2014
An “uncommon anthology” of images, fragments, stories and poetry.