From soft-arts beginner
I previously trained for 1 year full-time with Shifu An Jian Qiu, where I learned the family basic sets (stances, stretching, bone hardening etc.) and then progressed on to Bajji Quan and San Da. After returning to live in Dezhou for 2 years and unable to train full-time, I’m very grateful that An Shifu allowed me to continue my studies with part-time training. It was great being able to join in training sessions with other full-time students and see how quickly they improved, and An Shifu truly made me feel part of the family despite my limited time, even inviting me along to the incredible International Baji Quan demonstration hosted in Dezhou and QingYun this summer (2018). He allowed my training to fit seamlessly into my busy schedule, and it remained the highlight of my week throughout my time back in Dezhou. As I’m still dealing with a neck injury sustained while practicing wrestling back in Europe, I asked Shifu if he could start to teach me the internal arts to compliment and aid in my recovery.
To my first complete Bagua form
As a total beginner to internal arts, I’m very grateful for the many long conversations we had about internal training methods and goals, as well as the details and differences of the 3 styles Xing Yi, Bagua, and Tai Chi. I feel that under his instruction I have gained a useful understanding of what I am actually aiming to achieve when practicing internal kung fu, and the images he uses to describe his internal sensations help me to imagine the feeling I will one day achieve. Stood in San Ti Shi posture for 20 minutes, I imagine my arms as leaves gently floating along a stream.
In total, I learned the basic stances and fists of Xing Yi, then a first basic Bagua series before learning Bao Zhen Bagua Zhang. I wouldn’t have imagined I would be able to learn so many complex movements in this time, but my year of full-time training in the past provided me with good enough basics to learn quickly. It was very hard work, following the detailed corrections of An Shifu week after week, and I feel it will still be years before I can be truly soft in all these movements. However, I am very confident now to take what I have been taught and gradually develop my internal kung fu through daily practice. Sadly leaving Dezhou once again, I am already looking forward to coming back to deepen my knowledge of the An family system further, and hopefully next time I will arrive injury free!