I chicken out!!!

29 10 2010

I was supposed to be on the 12 hours night train to Shanghai with no seat, no sleeper.. standing ticket.. but, at the end, all packed, clothes and extra clothes, some food for the night ready.. I decided I am too old for this $hit!!!

Also I checked the train details: it started the trip from Pingdingshan little after 13 and arriving at Hefei after 10 stops.. then 10 more to Shanghai!!! Not a too difficult guess that the train will be completely full!! Crazy full probably..

I do not have anymore the age for this: 12 hours probably to move around at every stop, sitting in few square centimeters, getting cold and uncomfortable.. Standing ticket on the fast train, 3.5 hours, no problem! Been there 3 times. No big deal. This 12 hours stretch.. next life!

So I’ll fly there tomorrow early morning, testing also the airport, as the time to get there, useful next weekend as well (for Endo sensei Aikido seminar, both ways flying). And I am sure it will be a very good weekend! Especially since I am going be much more relaxed and rested!!


Aikido and Chinese martial arts

28 10 2010

I have been thinking a lot lately about one of my last seminars with Jan Nevelius in Trondheim. Jan is a great 6th dan from Vanadis dojo (Stockholm). Together with Jorma Lyly he has made my Aikido vision much richer, my technique much better, my way of teaching more structured and gave me lots of motivations in exploring new aspects of martial arts.

Now, in China, living in a city where there is no established Aikido club, I have started practicing Chinese martial arts, 武術 (wǔ shù). Yesterday I went to my first lesson of what we, Western people, call Tai Chi Chuan, but around here is 太极拳, tài jí quán, TaiJi, from now on 🙂

In the Trondheim seminar, Nevelius worked a lot on circular movements and comparison between Aikido and Chinese forms called Bā guà zhǎng, 八卦掌, and Hsing I, more properly called Xíng yì quán, 形意拳. The first one is an external form, where the practitioner “walk the circle” stepping around the danger until suddenly the action takes him into dealing with the treat threat (*), inside the imaginary circle he was walking around. Hsing I is on the other hand facing the treat threat (*) from an internal point of view, direction, position. But all my knowledge of these arts come from something Janne showed us and from reading. 

Now I finally got a chance to try something for real, thanks to a friend who is practicing with the same master a form of Chinese sword wu shu, very interesting as well to watch, maybe learn one day. I decided though to ask the master (师傅, shī fu, equivalent of sensei in Japanese) to teach me TaiJi because I consider it one of the most complete form of martial arts and from the little I have seen and tried, I am confident it will help me to improve my Aikido as well! The master showed me some application of the basic 3 movements he taught me.. and my mind jumped to the extremely similar Aikido techniques.

Of course, now all the time it is me who heard from the teacher:

放松, fàng sōng – relax!
do not use force
let the movement start from the center
straight back
extend the arm
down on your knees

..in Chinese.. with my friend translating! I will buy her a couple of dinners 😉

For now, the first day I learnt a couple of basic movements that will keep me busy for long in order to perform correctly, and a static position, similar to the one that some Norwegian Aikido practitioners, especially from the far north, call Qi Gong, 气功.. but when I asked the teacher if it was related he just laughed.. lost in translation effects 🙂

I only know that watching the master moving is just great (60 years old chairman of kung fu teaching in one of the local universities!), and my knees and back today are a little sore!! Good sign! I lookk forward to mroe practice next week! Even if it is in the center in the evening, so 12 km. by bus and return by taxi, when no overtime at work required..


27 10 2010

The Italian newspaper La Repubblica publish the news about hte opening of the fast train between Shanghai and Hangzhou: instead of the present time of a little less than 2 hours, it is now possible to cover the distance in 45 minutes..

Now, the Italian newspaper is again supplying as amazing and sensational the news about the speed, 350 km/h.. forgetting probably that Shanghai already has the commercial Maglev levitation train with the world highest speed (431 km/h), that I took a couple of times. The only problem of that train is that leaves you far from Shanghai center, end of a long subway line, so if you have lots of luggage and decide to take a taxi.. it takes almost the same amount of time/money that it would have taken form the airport to the center!

Irony because with so many big news about fast trains, I’ll soon have a 12 hours standing (=sitting on the floor) trip to Shanghai.. 😦

Not Norway!

26 10 2010

I started writing an answer to a comment of my dear aiki-friend Svein, and I realized it can be posted.. saying a bit more about my life here..

Svein said that he prefers to be thrown around all the day instead of resting: who ever said that I don’t practice to rest??? I think he misunderstood a bit my previous post, about a trip to Shanghai where I had no chance to practice.

Not true that I did not practice because I wanted to rest! I am so sad I missed the sessions on both Saturday and Sunday last weekend, but this is not Norway where one can buy train tickets on the net 1 month before.. trust me! Life here is not as easy as what I was used to in Norway! Especially when it comes to train/bus or everyday life services (banks, pharmacy, etc.).

Every step it’s a challenge that usually I can not overcome without the help of some locals. And I admit I do not like to ask, but I have to!

Besides, these are the last weeks of Shanghai Expo 2010 (ends 31st October) and the amount of people moving is unbelievable! At the end I will not go: many friends told me that it was ok, but given the 5-6 hours in the queue for entering, they would not have gone if they did not have free tickets. I do not have free tickets. And I lost my interest in queueing after 6 months in China, where often there are queues everywhere (from toilets to restaurants).

Anyway, more than 70million people visited Expo 2010, a new record that I am sure will be passed by many units.. How can I be so sure? For starting.. I am going to Shanghai again this Friday (29th October) and the only place that a dear friend could find for me last Sunday was..

a standing ticket on the 12hours long night train!!!

No kidding.. so, just to prevent further misunderstandings, I am not going to practice Saturday morning because I WANT TO REST!!!!! (even if I would anyway arrive late at that session!)

But, on the other hand, I have already got a friend checking the trains for first weekend in November: Endo sensei seminar.. either train on Friday or flight.. no crazy tiring trip for this!! 😉

FUNNY THING OF THE DAY  – Talking about another comment, this time Pedram’s one about me losing weight, I must thank you a lot my friend, but I would just say that it is some sort of visual special effect.. or he is just too nice as usual! 😉 Unfortunately, these past weeks my weight has been increasing again. Together with some of the old injures that have not disappeared even without practice, I am really in a bad condition! Nest Sunday I will practice for sure.. let’s see how many people will laugh at me.. again!

Artistic Shanghai

22 10 2010

Weekend in Shanghai.. or for being more precise, 24 hours in Shanghai.. This time I was a bit unlucky with the train tickets because of some rearranging of the train times and stops between Hefei and Shanghai. So I will be in Shanghai around noon on Saturday, tomorrow.. and leave around noon on Sunday.. ie. no practice 😦

But the second reason for visiting Shanghai this weekend was an event called Artist Battle that will take place Saturday evening at 800Show. An interesting group of artists will compete for a 2000 yuan check. All in all, it will be a cool evening!

Furthermore, the production director of the event is a good friend, Psydee, just moved from Ningbo to Shanghai and another great artist, Arielynn, will also visit the event, and it’s great to have a chance to meet her again!

But I will also meet my good firend Ulrich (since he gives me again hospitality) and we will have a couple of good German beers and pretzels and a nice German bar in Shanghai, called Papa’s Bierstube. And also a few other Aikido and not friends!

It is gonig to be fun, anyway, even without Aikido.. difficult to believe for some “freak” friend 😉 but possible! (trust me, I am not happy I cannot practice!!)

Aikido in Hangzhou

21 10 2010

Last weekend I went again to Hangzhou for practicing and teaching Aikido in the local club. This time much less people on the mats (did I scare them? again?) but still a great atmosphere.

Aikido in HangzhouI decided to respect my plans, even if there were not so many people from the club: lots of ukemi, mae and ushiro, from basics to a bit more advanced level, with a short introduction of breakfalls and basic exercises/techniques for testing in practice. As usual I tried to focus on ways to perform techniques in a soft way, trying to avoid the pain just to make it work.. Many people, especially beginners, have the tendency to use a lot of force. Also Tissier sensei used to say that it is normal at the beginning of the learning process to use more strength, but then the technique must overcome the use of un-necessary power. The biggest challenge was keep reminding the guys that the main topic of the lesson was more ukemi than the techniques themselves. So not so important to do a wrist killing kotegaeshi for example, respect to use the right leg for ushiro ukemi, turn properly the hips for mae ukemi or relax and.. pray your gods for breakfall 😉

Feet massage in HangzhouAfter a good 4 hours double session on Saturday, that I have to admit took its toll on my out of condition body, my friends had the wonderful idea to go to a foot massage place called Confucian place. And it was not only about feet.. but a quite comfortable body massage as well. Second best massage since I arrived in China! That makes me just wanting to get more! I have to find a place here in Hefei 😉 Funny also that my friends told the girls that I needed the storngest: as in Shanghai before, it was really powerfull massage and often I was showing pain on my face. The girl was then asking my friends if I was ok and I replied that little pain is a good pain, sometimes! The opposite actually that I said during practice: I do not like pain in Aikido, but if some of the students really want to do harmfull techniques, I can inflict pain too 😛

Sunday, feeling a little pain in every joint and muscle of my body (side effect of a good massage), I focus practice on a very nice attack: katadori and katadori men uchi. For the first, I tried again to focus on atemi and body movement, whole body, not just attacking the arm of the hand holding the shoulder. A more Endo sensei way of doing the entrance. Quite fun practice, good way to relax the whole body in order to keep a good mobility, suppleness.

Then for the last session, tantodori and some shiatsu, 指圧, learnt from Norwegian Aikido instructor Birger and a couple of very nice books, followed by a couple of breathing exercises, just to finish the weekend in a very relaxing way 😀

And even a better way to end another nice weekend with these new friends in Hangzhou was a great dinner in a special restaurant: Chinese good with a good modern twist, something similar to Perfetto here in Hefei.

Aikido in Hangzhou

Chinese census

19 10 2010

The funny thing that just happened is that I am also officially part of Chinese population 😉 since I have been registered for the freshly started new Chinese census.

It is apparently the first time that also foreigners are counted: in fact the official, even if he could speak more than 2-3 words in English, had a paper for foreigners with English-Chinese version. So, do not believe when it says that translator will also go around!! OK, I live in my company apartment, and I am the only laowai in a few kilometers radius.. mmhh, I should be more famous! 😉

According to the last census China, the world’s most populous country, had 1.29533 billion people. This time, from what I know, they could have 1.29533 billion + 1 😛