Taijiquan Training in Beijing 2019 – 13 People, One Wheelchair, One Walker, and at least a dozen physical, mental and emotional challenges to overcome. What brought this disparate group together was an unashamed passion, verging on obsession, for Tai Chi. Why mention the wheelchair and the walker? Because the “2 W’s” not only defined us, they taught us so much about ourselves, reinforced what we were learning in our Tai Chi training each day, gave us time to reflect on what it means to study Tai Chi, and most importantly strengthened our understanding of the philosophies behind our beloved Tai Chi.
The “2 W’s” very quickly became members of our team. Where were they? How would we get them onto the aeroplane, in and out of a bus, up the Great Wall of China? When W2 was damaged in transit, we worried and quickly set about literally bandaging him up so he could keep on functioning. W1 not only carried his owner, but carried other people who were tired, bags of fantastic shopping from the Panjiayuan Flea Market, and our much-needed supplies of bottled water; not to mention making us laugh as we raced him through the campus like Nigel Mansell at the Monaco Grand Prix.
However, these team members not only performed the functions they were designed for, and the ones we created for them, they taught us more than we could have imagined. They taught us what it means to slow down. Not just in our Tai Chi practice but in everything we do. We walked more slowly, so we saw flowers and small birds, shadow plays through the leaves of trees, the Doaist concepts of emptiness in a statue, feel the Autumnal breeze on our skin and to really pick up and study small objects in our travels. We took the time to watch more closely the comings and goings of the students on campus, see their daily lives unfolding like the clothes they were hanging out to dry outside their rooms. We began to “live” Tai Chi.
Tai Chi training was focussed on following and yielding, the Yin and Yang of every part of our bodies, when to absorb energy and when to send it back,
how to move the whole body while remaining grounded. The “2 W’s” helped with that as well. When should we follow or when should the “2 W’s” lead? At
one moment W1 could be empty, light and agile; the next moment he could be weighted down with his companion on an uphill climb; how could we use his
energy and design to make our ascent easier? Conversely, how could we control him on a descent, maintaining our balance and control? We learnt when
to yield to the “2 W’s” or when to take control away from them, absorbing their energy and using our own bodies to manoeuvre their owners. The list
The greatest gift of all, was that every single day the “2 W’s” quietly and gently showed us what it means to embrace the philosophies behind our art...
Humility, Loyalty, Respect, Morality, Trust, Courage, Patience, Endurance, Perseverance and Will. They made each of us shine. They bonded us in a way that will stay with us forever. They
carried the load of their owners, but they also carried us on our respective journeys of discovery.
They brought out the very best in each of us.
Would I do it again: 13 people, One Wheelchair, One Walker and all the other challenges? With all that it has given me and taught me about myself, about other people and about Tai Chi; the answer is “In a heartbeat”.
Our official training at Beijing Sport University was under the guidance of Professor Yang YuBing, Ph.D. in Taijiquan, creator of Taiji Xingchan Gong, Visiting Professor at the University of East-West Medicine, Consultant in National Quality Research at Beijing University and Professor at Beijing Sport University Wushu Faculty. He is a highly respected master in Taijiquan, Baguaquan, Xingyiquan, Daoyin Yang Sheng Gong and Health Qigong. He previously taught martial arts to the Shandong Police Force in China and is the Vice-President of the Sun Style Taijiquan Association.
Professor Yang’s teaching was outstanding. We have returned to Australia with an absolute treasure trove of knowledge and experience to draw on in all facets of our Taiji and Qigong practices.