China is largely foreign to us. The sheer size alone creates a certain powerlessness. The giant has developed rapidly in recent years. Large construction projects are being implemented at a breathtaking speed. From now on, electromobility will be a must. Green campaigns on recycling, cycling instead of cars and renewable energies as an educational offensive instead of commercials are running around the clock in the subways. Video cameras are almost everywhere. The country seems more restrictive and open at the same time than in previous years.
Taiji and martial arts are also closely linked to China. And almost everyone from the surrounding area wants to go to China sooner or later. So far these trips have been organized by individual teachers or one accompanies a teacher to his teacher. The latter requires some previous knowledge of the respective style. If only to avoid frustration. Travels of individuals to Chinese masters were mostly reserved for adventurers. We dare the experiment. How has the country shown itself to us?
Preparation is the key
After meeting the likeable Chinese teacher Hua Xiang Su at a course in Germany, the decision is made. Guangzhou in the south Chinese Guandong province is our destination. We booked the flight, searched Airbnb and found something, installed WeChat - the Chinese "WhatsApp" - and the visa in our pocket. Here we go. Via WeChat we send our arrival data and our possible training request - Liu He Ba Fa and Pushing Hands. Liu He Ba Fa means translated as 6 harmonies 8 methods. It is a composition of several martial arts and knows about 350 applications in the fight with opponents. In Pushing Hands these applications are practiced with a partner. This can be helpful for self-defense or just to understand the forms you learn. Because Taiji is not, as sometimes assumed, "dancing in the park".
Simply participating is an excellent strategy
We are welcomed by our teacher and son - as Chinese hospitality demands - at the airport and from there accompanied to our Airbnb accommodation.
Chinese are above all one thing: let's call it curious. We answer question after question patiently, often with the help of Google Translate, which adds to the general amusement.
Because the Chinese-German translation does not work well or what could this mean?: "Today I have given you many gifts and I forgot to give them to you. I give it to you to give you fruit for your journey."
Two hours a day we learn the Liu He Ba Fa Form bit by bit. Corrections and sore muscles are included. The instructions are in German. Only a few words are enough. A few Chinese students participate. We are amazed at the ease of the movements and try to give up our inherent control over ourselves and our body, so that this lightness also seizes us. The next lesson is Pushing Hands. This is also new for the Chinese students. The applications are well known. But they do not want to participate. Passers-by are curious to take pictures and sometimes they dare to ask questions. Where do you come from? is by far the most common question. What questions our teachers get remains hidden from us. But we are certainly good advertising.
During the breaks we join other Chinese people with whom we try out Chinese aerobics, among other things. Here again the Chinese are amazed by our swinging movements, which we know only too well from our fitness studios. Our motto is simply to join in, smile and something strange happens. You get a smile back and are accepted into the group without further words.
10 days later, everyone takes their own experience with them. For some it is the simultaneous connection of body, hand and foot for a purposeful movement. For others it is the fact that a sitting position shifts the body weight in the rotation almost by itself into the best position. The third learns simply by means of the pushing hand how to be levered out all too quickly.
Invitations to dinner and counter invitations follow. Because food is something very important in China. Afterwards we will leave for Central China. But that's another story.
What impressed you most in China?
Rainer: "All people - young and old - are on the move here with their smartphones. Sitting, standing, walking. They even play on the escalator to the subway. I was also impressed by the fact that so many Chinese move around and do sports. Especially the senior citizens in the park. That's what I would wish for Germany."
What are you taking home?
Rainer: "At home I have to train more supple movements and stretch myself. That way I can get into a sitting form, which is so important in Liu He Ba Fa."
What would you recommend to others?
Rainer: "You have to experience it yourself."
Photos by Urte Zahn