Tai Chi in Yangshuo, China

Broken and worn down I had arrived at the school where I was supposed to practice Tai Chi in Yangshuo. I had taken a week vacation in Beijing where I’d enjoyed the hotel pool when I wasn’t running around the city or went sightseeing. Still I felt rundown. Work had been rough lately, but wasn’t it always…

My blood pressure was a disaster, or well… my diastolic pressure (the lower one) was a disaster! Sometimes they were equal! I had also had daily migraines for 1 1/2 years!

That’s a long time for one long migraine attack.

No wonder I was so sick and tired of hanging out with people. As soon as I got home from work I pulled my blanket over my head and refused to talk to anyone during the whole week I had free. I had to recuperate for next week’s shift.

All my energy was directed to getting me ready for work!

And on and on it went, and now I couldn’t even remember the last time I actually felt well. Or even somewhat rested.

When I finally had decided to go to practice Tai Chi in Yangshuo the trip was easily and quickly booked. At Yangshuo Traditional Tai Chi School it was possible to practice either half- or fulltime. Fulltime was 4 hours per day, but it sounded somewhat much for me considering my broken body.

I wasn’t sure how it would react should I start torturing it with working out!

Therefore I decided to buy practice for halftime. I booked my own room + 3 meals a day, for about 2,000 dollars, at the moment. Food and accommodation + practice for 3 months – insanely cheap! I thought it might just become a spending rerun… compared to my first backpacker trip that is!

yangshuo traditional tai chi school

yangshuo traditional tai chi school

yangshuo traditional tai chi school yin yang sign

yangshuo traditional tai chi school entrance

school rules sign

yangshuo traditional tai chi school

In the beginning of September I took off, and now I’m here. Even though the school is small there are 3 large areas for practice outside (no inside training). We are usually around 10 students per lesson, so small and personal lessons. Most of us stay at the school, but sometimes people show up who have booked an intro course or something similar who are on a short visit in Yangshuo. Some students at the school have been here a long time, but are not ready to leave just yet. The more they learn, the more they realise they have to stay. Or so they say…

“The more I learn, the more I realise I have to stay!”

A Tai Chi group from France is visiting the school yearly, and sometimes Chinese people from other cities come for practice.

The school was founded by shifu Wu Heng Dong (Wu Kim) and shifu Wu YuPing. Shifu = master. They both teach the Chen style.

sign description of master kim

sign description of master ping

Shifu Kim and shifu Ping have been practicing Tai Chi almost all of their lives. Both inspire to confidence and as teachers they are equipped with unlimited patience. They are capable and I always enjoy watching them doing Tai Chi, since it looks so easy and effortless. Until you do it yourself – stiff as a board and clumsy as an elephant.

Oh, no, that wasn’t at all as easy as it looked!

chinese food on the table
The chef at the school made tasty Chinese food, and plenty of vegetarian options.
breakfast noodle soup

Why don’t you check out a lesson at the school; found on their YouTube: Traditionaltaichi

I still feel as if I’ve just arrived. I practiced halftime for a couple of weeks, and just started practicing fulltime. It worked well actually, with my neck and my migraines. I’ve skipped classes – about one every week – because of migraines, so I’m not really there just yet, but there’s a huge difference.

charnette woman selfie winter practice
We practice outside, no matter the weather. “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes…”

charnette woman taking selfie before tai chi practice

There’s a lot of tricky stuff to get a handle on when starting out practicing Tai Chi, or at least I felt so. It has been difficult with the breathing exercises, Qi Gong, standing meditations. It has been, or is, insanely hard with standing meditations for 20 minutes (even so, I managed to pull off 45 minutes of standing mediation last Friday!). I get dizzy easily and well, fainting seems to come to mind.

It is obviously a sign my breathing is off!

Another problem: using your hips right – and I’m now referring to using the force from your hip instead of your upper body – OMG – insanely hard! I’m also quite stiff when it comes to stretching, which is weird, since I feel I’m quite flexible doing yoga… Stiff as a board while practicing Tai Chi and well… the list can go on and on.

At the moment I feel like I’m inside some kind of vaccuum where I can’t remember a single sequence I learned last week. I do it, or more “parrot” it either from my shifu or training buddy.

As soon as the sequence is finished it’s forgotten! Just gone!

I don’t know if it’s because I’m not focused enough or if I’m just blocking or whatever or if I truly just suck…

I don’t feel I’m evolving at all. Tai Chi is something you have to work with for years, so hopefully this will change and when I leave China I won’t have such a hard time breathing, might be able to do standing meditation for 30 minutes without feeling like a total loser. I might be able to do my form without memory gaps and I might be perfectly relaxed, in all the right places.

But should I suffer from megalomania and believe I’m so relaxed I could ever become then I really need to remind myself of my training buddy Josh’s words:

Never assume you can’t relax more!

and it all starts over from the beginning… everything in life is a circle… breathe in, breathe out…

hotpot the dog and me
The dog Hotpot was the school dog. Shifu Ping had taken care of her after an American couple had rescued her from ending up in a dish. They bought her in a market, but were forced to go back home. She stayed. One evening she was so frightened by fireworks, so she came scratching at my door to let her in. After this evening she slept in my bed every night!



Have you practiced Tai Chi? Might you even have practiced Tai Chi in Yangshuo? Or in China? What are your experiences? Please leave a comment!

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Photo of the Month: Yangshuo
Tai Chi in Yangshuo, China

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