So I'm currently trying something a bit different on a Thursday night.
I saw an advert a while ago for chi kung and Shaolin kung fu classes and I finally got round to going along last week.
I really like the chi kung class. Obviously I'm aware of the many and varied claims made about and for 'chi' energy. As a beginner I have no real opinion of the validity of any of these, but I will keep an open mind. If nothing else it is a very relaxing and therefore healthfull class. I particular like the standing meditations.
My first kung fu class was last night. It is - different. It was certainly challenging to try and set aside prior hardwired skills. As I get older, I'm finding more and more that I am a 'slow' learner, particularly when it comes to acquiring new physical skills. I used to find this desperately frustrating, which actually made me even slower! Now I'm learning to accommodate this slowness and to have patience with myself. I know that I will get there in the end. The only problem I find now is that other people can become quite irritated with me, which is unhelpful.
I did enjoy the class though. The teacher is relatively young, but seems very knowledgeable and approachable.
We worked initially on something called 'golden bridge'. This is the Shaolin version of horse stance. With eyese closed and arms extended in front, it was harder than it looked at first! Then we moved on to footwork, practicing the attacking 'bow and arrow' stance (similar to the 'long walking stance in WTF tae kwon do) and the defensive 'false leg' stance. This false leg stance is probably most like a cat stance, with 95% of the weight on the back leg and the front leg bent at the knee with the toe pointed.
I found it harder to apply these with a partner than practicing solo. This is where previous training kicked in and I found myself doing other things!
We then worked basic palm strikes and practiced integrating these with the footwork. Then we looked at a basic defence to the palm strike. It's a block but not as we know it. Rather than striking the opponent's arm, the block is softer. It moves on a diagonal across your body and 'threads' over your opponent's arm. Again I found myself reverting to previous learning!
From there we moved on to a the first kick - the organ seeking kick. This is basically a front snap kick which is kept fast and low. With our partners we practiced using footwork to evade this kick. Then we added in a 'chopping' defence to the kick. I found this much easier thankfully lol.
Finally we finished off with some chi kung exercises.
I liked the class despite my hard of thinking moments which were several.