LTL REFLECTION: heavy rain taught me how much I DO know
Tai chi challenge: learn the 24-forms – in Chinese!
Last year I joined a local tai chi group in their twice-weekly practice in a nearby school hall. The challenge for me is to learn tai chi, but because the class is held in Mandarin I’m also getting a lot of exposure to Chinese.
To be honest, I ‘look and learn’ during instruction and I don’t pay much attention to the spoken instructions (not being able to speak Mandarin, and all). I often think how much easier it would be if I could understand the master, but I don’t.
We’re in the monsoon season now and heavy rainfall is quite common. Last week the rain was so heavy that the sound of the rain hitting the roof of the school hall drowned out all of the master’s instructions as we went through our patterns. So, we all went through our routine in ‘deafening silence’ as the rain drummed on the tin roof. At first, I thought that the rain drowning out the master’s instructions would have no effect on me, as I seem to learn tai chi by watching, rather than listening.
It turns out I was wrong.
It was really difficult to follow the pattern without the familiar sounding instructions. I don’t exactly know what it means, but I DO know that when the master says ho-jingxi (or something) we are supposed to lift our posture in a rising motion, likewise when he says kau, we turn our foot in, and gai (I think) means we open our foot stance. I also know the words for arms/hands and feet/legs, left and right, up and down, head, shoulders, chest and waist. Though to be honest, I’m a bit wobbly on which is ‘shoulders’ and which is ‘chest’.
Learning tai chi is hard enough, so I never had any intention of making my life harder by trying to learn Mandarin as well, but it looks like I have absorbed a small amount of the language without even trying. If I can rely on my minimal knowledge of Mandarin to get me through a tai chi routine, I can surely rely on my minimal knowledge of Arabic – which I AM learning – to get me through a simple conversational exchange.
Rain or no rain, I’m going to draw on my minimal knowledge of Arabic and focus on what I DO know to try and drum out a couple or three short phrases, and start using my words!