XinJia - in the long run

We had the luck to learn XinJia from Chen XiaoWang during our second winter in Sydney.  Mesmerised by my first glimpse of it in the Oxford park the previous year, I had hardly dared to express my longing to learn this form.  But that winter he was expecting a group of his old students from Japan; he decided to quickly teach us the form so that my companion and I would be able to join their lessons.  It was a privilege to study and spend the days with such a charming group of people.

Our days started early, breakfasting at Master Chen's favourite Macdonald's or in the canteen of the Chinese hotel where Mrs. Chen had placed the nonplussed Japanese (I think they had been imagining croissants and espresso in Sydney cafes).  Our lessons were in various parks including the splendid Botanic Gardens.  Six Japanese instructors, three men and three women.  Two of them (one a Chentaiji gold medallist) wanted to polish up their LaoJia PaoCui; the other four concentrated on XinJia.  The lessons followed the usual format : ZhanZhuang and Chansigong at length, and only after establishing the fundamentals did the lessons go into form.

It is in XinJia that I can see how my technique has been developing. The first six or seven years, its repetition cost me an enormous amount of effort.  It was as if I had not enough stored energy for more than a few rounds.  In time I began to appreciate what was depleting me of strength : XinJia consists of move upon move of intricate articulations folding at varying speeds in different directions.  Only a firm fluid core gives the freedom to move lightly and swiftly.  Any holding along any segment of the trajectory, however small, robs you of realising the power that can build up along an open runway.  The more sensitive you can be to your use of yourself, the greater your chances are of developing mastery.