Beijing

Beijing

On our field trip to China in April 2018, we spent some time exploring Beijing.

This is a bustling city, with its 30 million residents and many cars and scooters.  A prominent feature was the domino-like apartments that continue for miles across the city.


Another striking aspect was one of the forms of transport – there are bicycles which can be unlocked via an app from your cell phone.  You can then hop on the bike, cycle to your destination, and then park the bicycle on the sidewalk, leaving it there ready for the next traveller. It has a run-flat tyre too!

 

Palaces

Beijing is also known for their palaces.  A stroll around the Forbidden City within

Elderly man in the Forbidden City

Beijing allowed us to notice the people, and to admire the largest collection in the world of preserved ancient wooden structures.  Therefore, it’s a World Heritage Site.

It took 14 years to build, starting in 1406 and its 980 buildings cover 180 acres of land.  The Forbidden City was the home of the emperors, and for almost 500 years it also acted as the central place for ceremonies and politics of the Chinese Government

Summer Palace visitors

We also enjoyed an outing to the nearby Summer Palace, 15 km northwest of Beijing.  It is a World Heritage Site and is one of the best preserved regal gardens in the world.

In 1750 Emperor Qianglong build the Summer Palace, and today it holds over 3000 houses, covering an area of 70 000 square meters.   It has a landscape of hills and a man-made lake, with many beautiful walkways, bridges that arch, corridors innately decorated, and palaces and temples at many turns.

Practicing calligraphy at the Summer Palace

Tai Chi in Beijing

Beijing has a lot to offer, and like in most cities in China, taiji and qi gong are popular arts, together with badminton, playing music, singing, and various card and board games.  All of these are practiced and played by the locals in the parks of the cities.

A festive mood on the Summer Palace boat

 

 

> Missed any blogs about our China Trip?  Check the list here.

On our field trip to China in April 2018, we spent some time exploring Beijing. This is a bustling city, with its 30 million residents and many cars and scooters.  A prominent feature was the domino-like apartments that continue for miles across the city. Another striking aspect was one of the forms of transport – …

Leo’s Top Tips to keep Safe

Leo’s Top Tips to keep Safe

With a background of over 40 years in Martial Arts and teaching self-defence, Sensei Leo Ming shares some of his tips and strategies for keeping safe and avoiding situations where we are an easy target to criminals and might be threatened.

These points to remember are especially relevant for those living in big cities like Johannesburg, where there is a high risk of being mugged, or car hi-jacked.

When in Car Parks

  • Place your valuables in your boot, out of sight.
  • Make sure your vehicle is locked once you’ve parked it. Double check that it is locked, as Car-jamming devices are a common means to gain entry into your car after you have left it.
  • Don’t be distracted by checking your phone, and rather be aware of your surroundings. Scan the area and notice if there are any loiterers around.
  • Park in an area which is not out of sight or tucked around the corner. However, also try not to park in between large cars where your car is hidden. Parking out of sight will make it easier for hijackers to accost you.
  • It is preferable to also park your car nose out, by reverse parking it into the parking spot.
  • When returning to your car, have your keys in hand, so that you don’t have to be looking for them when you get to your car.
  • Don’t dawdle to your car and once you are inside your car, don’t linger and delay leaving the car park.
  • If possible be with someone. If you are alone, your first defence is your awareness – especially of loiterers.
  • When possible, get the car guard to help you with loading your shopping packets into the car, while you keep scanning your surroundings.

When Driving to leave or enter home or work, at the gate on the street

  • Awareness is so important. Notice other cars in the street, people hanging around the gate or walking nearby, and look out for anything suspicious or unusual.
  • Be cautious in driveways – do not hang around waiting in the driveway or when entering apartment complexes. Boomed off areas can be used as a trap area for car hijacks.
  • Be extra vigilant in dimly lit areas or quiet side roads.
  • If anything seems out of place or suspicious, rather drive away and call for help before returning.

When Walking

  • Be aware of your surroundings. So don’t walk with your awareness in your phone checking social media.  Notice what is happening around you.
  • Walk in a busy area if possible.
  • And walk with others if possible.
  • If it is a casual walk, leave all your valuables at home. Carry your mace / whistle/ body alarm / weapon of choice.
  • Walk with a dog if possible.

When waiting at a Bus Stop or for an Uber Taxi

  • Yet again safety starts with awareness. Notice what is going on around you.
  • Know your bus stop or Uber pick up point and its surroundings.
  • Know the arrival times of your bus or taxi. Time your arrival to the bus stop or pick-up point to avoid waiting too long for the bus/taxi.
  • Avoid being on your phone texting while waiting for the bus. If you are checking your phone for your Uber details, be sure to keep aware too of your surroundings.
  • Be vigilant of loiterers.

How can learning Tai Chi and Karate help with developing a sense of Self-Defense?

Martial arts brings awareness to one’s behaviour.  It also develops an attitude  of alertness and awareness to ones surroundings.   Awareness is key to one’s own safety.

The next aspect is self-protection. Not only does martial arts teach us basic self defence movements, it also teaches us confidence in bodies and in ourselves. With this confidence we can have a different insight and awareness to the world around us, and a more assertive response which is needed to protect ourselves.

One also learns and understands the psyche of people and potential threats through training in martial arts.

All these give us a better insight of scenarios and hopefully our coping skills are heightened.

Be aware, and be safe!

 

For more about Self-Defence and Martial Arts classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

With a background of over 40 years in Martial Arts and teaching self-defence, Sensei Leo Ming shares some of his tips and strategies for keeping safe and avoiding situations where we are an easy target to criminals and might be threatened. These points to remember are especially relevant for those living in big cities like …

Terracotta Army

Terracotta Army

On our Tai Chi China Trip, we visited Xian, and we went to see the Terracotta Army.

These sculptures, made out of terracotta clay, are something that will stay with us for life.  It was special to have witnessed their creations, as the magnitude and detail of the warriors evoked a strong sense of culture, pride, awe and wonder.

There is also a sense of the long history linked to these sculptures, as they depict the armies of Quin Shi Huang, who was the first Emperor of China.

We stood fascinated with how the people lived at those times.  As well as how they as a nation came together to build what they believed would be an army ready to protect the Emperor from any ghost armies of his many victims – he was tyrant leader after all. It is said that these warriors would protect him into his after life.

Each warrior is unique with individualised features, and they are in many different positions, like standing, sitting, kneeling and some even crouching. We, however, did not get a photo of any in martial arts poses, but we did get one in a martial like pose, before raising his bow and arrow:

 

> Next blog coming soon: Beijing & the Summer Palace

On our Tai Chi China Trip, we visited Xian, and we went to see the Terracotta Army. These sculptures, made out of terracotta clay, are something that will stay with us for life.  It was special to have witnessed their creations, as the magnitude and detail of the warriors evoked a strong sense of culture, …

Shanghai

Shanghai

What stood out most for us on our stay in Shanghai, was the size of the city and amount of people who live there. Also striking is its modern buildings and sky scrapers, together with the authentic feel of the city.

We visited Zhujiajiao, also known as the Venice of Shanghai.

There is a beautifully manicured garden alongside, and one can see a lot of work has been put into the making of this space, in the style of a manor garden.

Tai chi is practiced in Shanghai in the many parks that are in and around the city. Where ever there is a space, it will be used. The locals get out into the park and have activities like taiji; badminton; qi gong; playing instruments; kicking the shuttlecock. This all contributes to a very vibey atmosphere.

> Next China Trip blog: Terracotta Army

What stood out most for us on our stay in Shanghai, was the size of the city and amount of people who live there. Also striking is its modern buildings and sky scrapers, together with the authentic feel of the city. We visited Zhujiajiao, also known as the Venice of Shanghai. There is a beautifully …

Chen Village Museum

Chen Village Museum

During our visit to Chen Village, we spent a few hours exploring the 2800 square meters of the Chen Village Museum.  Being the birthplace of Tai Chi, the museum is a wonderful collection of art, sculptures and information about the history and theory of this martial arts.  The museum also has a way of introducing you to the tai chi Masters and their life stories.

In this video, about half way through, you will see the painting of a master with numerous hands.  It is said that when a practitioner of tai chi reaches a very high level, his skill is like that of ‘a man with a thousand hands’.  He can thus achieve a lot by doing a little, as in if he gets hit by someone, that pressure will bounce back to the assailant.

Most people in Chenjiagou Village, or Chen Village, practice tai chi.  Hence there is a widespread saying:

“After drinking the water in Chenjiagou Village, you will know how to perform one or two movements of Tai chi.”

 

Sifu Leo’s reflection of visiting this museum is:

“Well, I have read up for years on the history and the various masters and how they passed their knowledge on. It is only when you get there, to Chen Village, that it becomes a reality as you stand on the grounds where the Master’s actually trained. The museum made real the theory that I read in the books.  I recommend students of tai chi to visit the museum, as when you are physically at Chenjiagou , the teachings that you have learned in your taiji class get placed into a real perspective.”

 

> Next China Trip blog:  Shanghai and Zhujiajiao

During our visit to Chen Village, we spent a few hours exploring the 2800 square meters of the Chen Village Museum.  Being the birthplace of Tai Chi, the museum is a wonderful collection of art, sculptures and information about the history and theory of this martial arts.  The museum also has a way of introducing …

Visiting the Great Wall of China

Visiting the Great Wall of China

On our tour of China, we spent a few hours walking along the Great Wall.  We visited a popular section called Badaling, about 80 kilometres northwest of Beijing.  It is one of the most visited sections because it is the most well-maintained and representative section the Wall.

What is most striking about the Wall is the sheer size of it, and the overwhelming presence it has.  The fact that a million people lost their lives building the Wall, adds to its impressiveness.  And this fact has also lead the Wall to be called “the wall of tears”.

There is a great legend which tells of a lady called Meng Jiang, whose husband died while working on the wall.  Her tears that fell were so bitter that it collapsed a section of the wall, revealing where his bones were.  This allowed the grieving wife to bury them properly.

Another interesting fact is that in the Qin Dynasty, glutinous rice flour was used as cement to bind the bricks.

“The Great Wall symbolises everlasting strength and longevity and protection for my people” contemplates Sifu Leo.

> Next blog: Chen Village Museum

On our tour of China, we spent a few hours walking along the Great Wall.  We visited a popular section called Badaling, about 80 kilometres northwest of Beijing.  It is one of the most visited sections because it is the most well-maintained and representative section the Wall. What is most striking about the Wall is …

Wudang Mountains

Wudang Mountains

Part of our students travels round Hubei, China, was time spent in the Wudang Mountains.  Besides the beautiful scenery, these mountains are an important destination for Taoist pilgrimages, as they are one of the “Four Sacred Mountains of Taoism” and thus have many Taoist monasteries and temples.

The Wudang Mountains are also renowned for the art of Tai Chi.  Many festivals and  martial arts tournaments are held here, along side the tai chi training schools.  Here is a yearly celebration of Lau tsu that we watched:

Jackie Chan in Wudang during his movie with Jaden Smith, the son of Will Smith

 

Students of Martial Arts in the Wudang Mountains

> Next destination:  Visiting the Great Wall of China

Part of our students travels round Hubei, China, was time spent in the Wudang Mountains.  Besides the beautiful scenery, these mountains are an important destination for Taoist pilgrimages, as they are one of the “Four Sacred Mountains of Taoism” and thus have many Taoist monasteries and temples. The Wudang Mountains are also renowned for the …

Chen Village Visit

Chen Village Visit

Chen is the village where the Chen Form of Tai Chi originated.

Over 11 generations ago, and more than 350 years ago, the Chen Family combined martial arts with breathing techniques and Chinese medicine, and created what we know as Tai Chi today, in the Chen Form.

It is still taught today in Chen Village by the descendants of this historic family.

On our trip to China, here are our South African students and our fellow US travel companions mingling with the children visiting Chen:

And the reaction to us:

 

> Next destination:  Wudang Mountains

Chen is the village where the Chen Form of Tai Chi originated. Over 11 generations ago, and more than 350 years ago, the Chen Family combined martial arts with breathing techniques and Chinese medicine, and created what we know as Tai Chi today, in the Chen Form. It is still taught today in Chen Village …

China Trip – Photos of our adventure

China Trip – Photos of our adventure

Here is the start of our collection of photos, of the adventure a group of tai chi students are currently enjoying, while on their trip to China.

They are exploring the culture, places and people to get a more in-depth understanding of the history, people and current practice of tai chi.

Here’s a video of the Fan Form that Sifu Leo Ming just shared on Facebook:

Sifu Leo Ming and 李连杰 Jet Li saving wildlife in Xian, China.
Tai chi in Xian, a small city of 10 million. The old wall was build around it, and is 7 miles long and could fit 4 cars wide on top.
Street market in the city of Louyang
Reading in the street market in Louyang
At the airport, ready to go 🙂


More photos and videos here:

Here is the start of our collection of photos, of the adventure a group of tai chi students are currently enjoying, while on their trip to China. They are exploring the culture, places and people to get a more in-depth understanding of the history, people and current practice of tai chi. Here’s a video of …

Agility as a Team Building Theme

Agility as a Team Building Theme

When asked by a corporate to help with a team building exercise, or fun and yet informative day, Leo uses tai chi as an analogy to highlight the points needed to work together effectively.

Leo had the opportunity recently to enjoy a day with the team at Fulcrum, which was organised by the advertising company Van Damm.  The MC was Bongani Bingwa and a fellow presenter was Chef Benny Masekwameng, also known as Benny the Chef.

Constitution Hill in Johannesburg was chosen as the venue, as it is a place full of history from our country South Africa, allowing a sense of perspective reminding us of memories of the past and dreams for the future.  When we understand our place in the present from this perspective, we gain a useful vantage point.

The themes from Fulcrum that they were exploring at this corporate event included: excellence, trust, relationship, agility and progress.  Leo focused on sharing thoughts on the agility segment, around how to alter your course without changing your destination.

Using tai chi at the metaphor, and with getting the audience moving and involved in the discussion, Leo shared how knowing yourself is true wisdom.  Strength comes when we can master others, whereas true power is developed when we are mastering ourselves.

“When all the team are moving, practicing a tai chi pose together and moving as a unit, it is a very powerful energy” explains Leo.  “Using tai chi to relax the body, and focus the mind, one can get the best out of your whole unit, as each person is moving as one unit.”

“I enjoyed teaching them the skills and the benefits of having the right base and platform from which to work from.  A base of tranquility, strong focus, and a clear mind to make better decisions.”

To find out how tai chi can be used as a metaphor for your teams growth, contact your Sifu Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

When asked by a corporate to help with a team building exercise, or fun and yet informative day, Leo uses tai chi as an analogy to highlight the points needed to work together effectively. Leo had the opportunity recently to enjoy a day with the team at Fulcrum, which was organised by the advertising company …