Friday, February 19, 2016

Tai Chi Classmates

Our time here is flying by -- we only have one more week before we head home. I am on track to finish the Wudang Tai Chi Square Form (Short Form) by the time we leave. There are 42 moves, each consisting of three steps (coordinated hand and foot movements). I learned #39 today, so I should be able to make it to the end. I can usually take in one new move each day, although it can be hard to remember by the next morning, even with some practice. I have found that this discipline is incredible for both mind and body.

Our teacher, Rod, is from London, of Greek background. He is married to a Thai and the classroom is attached to their home. He is pretty amazing. Not only is he very patient and a good teacher (adapting as necessary to individuals' particular needs), he also teaches Chi Gong (Qi Chung), Reiki, Yoga, and provides spirulina and noni juice to those who wish it.

It's been interesting meeting other people in the class. Marisa is from Australia, has lived in C.M. for maybe ten years. She is very advanced, but still comes a couple of times a week. The only other person I knew last year is Patrick from France. He owns a condo here and spends 7-8 months out of the year in C.M. He is trying to sell the condo and get a different one. His English is somewhat limited and my French is nonexistent, but we chat anyway.

Dario is American, from Chicago, and a professional percussionist. He has played in Mexico City and elsewhere, but is teaching English here. He and I agree that playing in an orchestra makes counting in your head automatic, helpful in our Seven Steps movement. Michelle is African-American and a restless sort. She has been here a bit more than a year but is ready to move on, to the Philippines next.  Patrick, Dario and Michelle are all near the end of their Round Form, on which I hope to begin work next January. (Round Form follows the general outline of the Square Form, but with constant flowing movement, no steps.)

Mathilda is from the Netherlands (and the only one my age) and has lived here for about 12 years. She is in the process of closing out her lease, selling furniture and moving back to the Netherlands. I think her husband died not long ago and she is ready to leave. Fabrizio arrived while we were in Luang Prabang. He is young and very energetic. It's hard to get him to slow down when we do Seven Steps or Spinning Silk together. Today Mathilda said she thinks he might be autistic, and it makes sense to me -- he doesn't interact in an ordinary way with the other people. And he's a little fierce!

Manuel and Judith are typical -- they are Swiss, just came this week and are leaving already. We get new students most weeks, people who are interested in checking out what tai chi is. They seem to enjoy just a bit of it. I remember when I started, how envious I was of those who had obviously been doing it for some time.

Olaf is in the Chi Gong class just before ours. I first noticed him when another student who was in my class the first two weeks mentioned that he had asked her out. She teaches at an international school here and was quite excited to think of having a date. But by the time she had to go back to school he hadn't arranged anything. A couple of weeks ago Olaf asked me about "my friend" (I didn't really know her well, but we had chatted a bit). I asked him if he meant Amy and he said yes. I said, well, you should call her! He said he would. But a few days later he told me he had decided not to bother. I'm pretty sure she had given up before that anyway. It's so interesting to have these small glimpses into other people's lives.

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