Shuang Jie Gun… for dummies

One of the hardest things about learning Shuang Jie Gun is remembering the steps to the routines I am taught. The Chinese names mean nothing to me, and as I progress to harder routines (including using double Shuang Jie Gun*) I am left with this one, giant, twirling, jumbled, blurry and highly dangerous mess.

Until yesterday, when my Shifu came up with Double Shuang Jie Gun for Stupid Shannon.

“This step, like fishing,” he said as he threw them out like he was casting a line.

“This step, like hitting bee,” he said as he waved the nunchuks around his head.

“This step, like haircut,” he said as he brought them back down, dangerously close to his head.

“This step, like beautiful dance,” he said as he twirled them around his waist and back again.

“This step, like killing mouse,” he said as he swept them downwards at the side of his body.

“And this step, well, it just like cross your body.”

“So, fishing > bee > haircut > dance > mouse > cross > finish. Ok, got it.” I said, but not fully believing this was going to work.

He handed me the Shuang Jie Gun, and with one set in each hand, I took a deep breath and…

“Yes, good, like fishing!” He said.

“Ok, now hit bee! … Yes, now haircut! … Yes, now DANCE!… Good, now kill the mouse!… Ok, that mouse, he got away… now cross!”

And just like that, I had remembered the routine.

“Feichang hen hao!” Yelled Shifu. “Congraulations,” he beamed.

We high-fived, I did my little victory dance and then he said,

“Right, 20 more times, faster, do your best, and then we do it again.”

*  What I’m about to tell you confirms that I am crazy, and so too is my shifu for thinking I am competent enough to do this. double Shuang Jie Gun is one set of nunchuks in each hand, which effectively means double the chance of me knocking myself unconcious. This has not yet happened, but I suspect it will at some point.

Happy anniversary

Kai and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary on Sunday. Nothing says “Happy anniversary, I love you so much” more than Shaolin Monks! Which is why I organised a trip to Dengfeng (near Zhengzhou) to visit the Shaolin Temple.

It involved us leaving very early Saturday morning on a five-hour train trip, driving two hours to the temple and then a further two hours to the hotel (don’t ask) but it was totally worth it because there were all these cool people doing Gong Fu!

Zai jian!

It’s official: Kai and I are moving to Mongolia. This time next month, I’ll be there. Now that’s crazy!

I don’t particularly want to leave Jingers; I’ve become quite fond of the place.

I am particularly bummed that I have just gotten a handle on the language. I am by no means fluent, but I have definitely made progress.

Sadly, I had my last Chinese lesson on Wednesday. I didn’t expect it to be so soon or sudden, but my teacher, Wu Jing Sheng, is off to get married (what’s with all the Chinese men I know going off to get married… is it something I said?). But I owe a big thanks to Jing Sheng (the most patient man in China) for giving me adequate Chinese to order my daily latte, and for giving me countless opportunities to entertain Beijing taxi drivers with my commentary on the weather, traffic jams and idiotic driving.

Xie xie Wu Jing Sheng! Zai jian

Tuni bags

Sandy, Cathy & I went to a Tuni Bag workshop last week.
Now before you ask, what is a Tuni Bag, well, truthfully I am still not sure I really know.

But that’s cool, because we got to hang out, and do some stitching, and let our creative juices flow.

It started with a needle, thread and a blank canvas.

Cathy was quick to find her rhythm.Sandy found her groove too.Me? Well, I just kinda faffed about, taking pictures. Like pictures of this cute kid. How stylish is he?!

And photos of these two chicks. How hot are they?!

Bike Man

I found Bike Man in the Wudaoying Hutong.

We stopped in for a refreshment at this cute little coffee shop that did quite good coffees and had a love heart table!

Through the window I could see Bike Man. He was adjusting spokes so that the wheel ran true.

As the afternoon passed, people would stop and chat to him about, well, bikes.

But what I loved most about Bike Man is the amount of locals that pulled up to chat. How many stories he must know!

You all know how much I love to chat, so it just about killed me that all I could do was watch helplessly from the window, wishing that my Chinese was better!

Snobby dogs

Beijingers love their dogs, and I don’t mean as a menu item. Thousands of pampered pooches live in apartments all around us, and every afternoon they are out being walked, sometimes on a leash, often not.

One of the earliest things I noticed when I arrived is that Beijing dogs are snobs. They never come up to say hello, or to give you an awkward crotch sniff or hump of the leg. They just completely ignore you. It doesn’t worry me… I really try not to take it personally… it’s just another profound observation I have made.

But months of being invisible to the local canines made yesterday’s brief encounter with a little poodle even more noticeable. It sniffed my feet, looked up at me, I said ‘ni hao xiao gou!” (hello little dog) and off it went to (hopefully) enjoy its day.

So puppy, if you’re reading this… I never got to say this to you a) because you ran off too quickly and b) my Chinese isn’t that good, but what I really wanted to say was:

“Thanks little dog for validating my existence!”

Funny guy

So it turns out my Gongfu Shifu is a funny guy.

Picture this:

I am in the middle of sparring with my highly-accomplished Gongfu Shifu (who incidentally is a lover of wine, but that’s a story for another post) when he says with his limited English vocabulary:

“Look, a UFO.”

To which I laugh, and say: “Haha, good one, you almost distracted me.”

In that instant, while I was complimenting him on his joke (and was quietly congratulating myself for not looking), he stood on my foot.

“Owwww! You stood on my foot.”

“Yes. Always you must focus!”

He’s always giving me good advice like that. Kind of like when he hands me the Shuang Jie Gun (nunchucks) and says: “Be careful.”

To which I always reply: “Thanks for the hot tip.” And then immediately proceed to hit myself in the head / back / eye / bum / all of the above.

Today he told me that I ‘make his heart fast’.

I know what you’re thinking… “oh, that’s a little awkward, but kind of flattering that he has a crush on her.”

No, he just meant that I give him a heart attack every time I pick up the Shuang Jie Gun…. shame.