What’s Tai Chi without learning the fan? Most people who come to my regular classes are always interested in it and to some people, the main reason for learning Tai Chi. It’s an attractive martial weapon; the designs on the fabric, the choice of colours and that satisfying “crack” when you open it.
Learning the fan wasn’t my main reason to learn Tai Chi but it is a beautiful addition to the collection of forms I know. In fact, the only reason I came across this particular workshop whilst looking for trips to China to train and this workshop was on the website.
My birthday was coming up and I decided that this was what I wanted to do to celebrate; as it was a bit expensive to spend on a whim (£125 per person). So I and my boyfriend booked onto the workshop!
The workshop was held by the Deyin Taijiquan Institute in the Chinese Cultural Centre in Telford. This wasn’t too far from our home in Birmingham. There was plenty of parking and we made it there with no trouble.
Upon entering the centre, we were warmly greeted by Master Faye Yip herself. We were made to feel accepted right from the start and we did all the registration and put all our stuff in the cloakroom.
There were plenty of people attending this course, a majority of those were in the uniform of the group but a handful of us newbies too. There were people from Spain and Belgium here too, not just from across the UK, and all ages too. Everyone was friendly and made me feel a part of the family, there was no ego, just enthusiasm.
The first day of the workshop was intense. The plan of the weekend was to learn all of the form; half on the first day and the second half on Sunday.
For someone who has only done Chen Man Ching Yang style, this was quite an eye-opener. This was not only a mental challenge but a physical one. The movements were very dynamic and much larger than what I am used to. I loved it! The flow and the power could be felt very clearly in each move, martial applications are very apparent. Whilst Master Faye Yip made it look so graceful and elegant, my coordination required a bit more refinement. I thought I was quite fit and becoming more flexible has been my goal, but this was another level. Despite being so outclassed, I didn’t feel bad about it. If anything it inspired me to practise more! Faye’s kind demeanour made anything seem possible with some practice.
Unfortunately, on Sunday my body decided to sabotage my birthday treat. Menstrual pain kicked in just after lunch. I hadn’t expected it either which really sucked. I didn’t have any painkillers or supplies which then added to the misery. Epic pain and hot flushes wracked my body whilst I was trying to learn the 6th section of the form. My willpower disappeared when Faye asked me if I was ok. I was so embarrassed that something like this would happen to me. I was frustrated that I couldn’t continue to do something I was enjoying so much. Another student came to comfort me as I was in bits, in a foetal position on a chair outside. A complete stranger was looking after me with such compassion, she reassured me and I didn’t feel embarrassed anymore. She also found some Neurofen for me. What a lifesaver!
At the end of the workshop Master Faye, went through the entire form to music. It was so beautiful and powerful, in her amazing outfit too. Then it was the group’s go. I needed to go through it all with everyone as it was the end of the workshop. My performance wasn’t too bad considering my uterus hated me. Everyone else asked if I was feeling better, the pills kicked in so I was a bit better if not a little bit disappointed in myself. All the other students were so caring so that I didn’t feel nervous to return to the room.
My body and mind were challenged this weekend, I loved it. I will definitely go to this group again. I recommend this Taiji Kung Fu Fan weekend to everyone and anyone who asks.
Now to watch the DVD and Youtube video over and over again to practise!
Do you play Taiji? Have you learnt a Fan form? Share your experiences below!