Weekend in Portsmouth

We had our second and last summer seminar in Portsmouth over the past weekend. Since we’re building our skills and names, we expected to have a small group, and that’s okay for now. What we didn’t expect was to have one YMAA student take a 1.5 hour bus ride from Boston and two students drive all the way from Quebec City! (That’s at least a 6 hour drive.) We were deeply honored by their willingness to sacrifice so much time and effort to be there.

Each student had a background in Shaolin and/or Taijiquan and it made it easier to teach. Twelve hours condensed into 2 days can be a bit intense, so they learned and practiced “Shan He” and spent the last hours reviewing period requirements for their next stripe. It was a good mix of having a new sequence to take home and polishing existing material. When I spend too many consecutive hours learning new things, my brain and body sometimes go on strike. When we reviewed old material, the energy picked up as we analyzed and discussed different ways of doing the same technique. You can’t ask for more than students who dedicate themselves to improving.

Like many YMAA students around the world, these guys have to travel long distances to update their training and test. It’s a huge contrast compared to New England students from the 80s through early 00’s when Dr. Yang was still in Boston. You could get checked by him every 6 weeks or so and test several times a year as long as you put enough time and effort into training. Lucky! (Yet, many took this for granted). Nowadays, it’s up to students and teachers to attend seminars, camps, or travel to the Retreat Center to update their training. This can be challenging when you need to balance a job or school, training, possibly a family, and travel time and expenses, but many manage to do it. That’s why it’s especially inspiring to see everyone with limited resources doing all they can to keep their spirit (martial arts or other) alive. Cheers to you!

Next time, we may experiment with the seminar structure by offering shorter blocks, different topics, and other locations. Feedback is much appreciated.

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