Guangzhou Beginnings

Monday, 28 September, 2015

Dear friends and family,

My departure to China was somewhat abrupt, but then, I was supposed to have left much earlier. I wanted to say how much I enjoyed being able to do extra training over my last month in Seattle. I immediately missed it when arriving here in China. Now, it’s a struggle to find a time and place to train, though I hope that will change.

I am living in Guangzhou, and I am making my living teaching English for approximately thirty hours a week, though perhaps more in these early weeks as I must spend a lot of time learning the craft (and that’s not to say it only takes a few weeks). I was given some flexibility in my choices of where to live in China, and I pushed for Guangdong Provence because, besides having the famous Canton culture, the area is known for it’s martial arts. Guangzhou is the Mandarin name for the area, or city, known more commonly as Canton. Just an hour or two south-west of my current residence in Guanzhou is Foshan (or Fat-san) where some stories say Wing Chun Kung Fu came from, and where there are supposedly many schools. Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan (all islands) are also very close, the two former locations are within a few hours travel time, and easy to access for a weekend trip. All of these areas have well known Wing Chun schools.

Even here, in Guangzhou city, I have not lost touch with the martial arts. I was lucky to meet an old friend here, by some twist of fate, and we spent an hour practising Wing Chun on my second day here. We will be exploring Wing Chun and other arts together, I suspect, and we have already located some well known schools in the area. I also stumbled across some kind of museum-like building in a park which was very small, and above the locked doors, on a stone plaque, were inscribed the words (in Chinese) “Fo-shan Ye Wen Yong Chun” (or “Fat-san Yip Man Wing Chun”). I do not know what the building is, or was, but there was a number to call for more information. I will share some photos, and perhaps a video in my next post. Finally, a late evening river walk took me to a dock where people were practising what appeared to be Thai boxing. I have not yet seen or heard of any local Escrima groups, but I hope by meeting some local martial artists I may find something.

Thank you all again for all the training before I left. Besides relaying my experiences here, I hope also to share some lessons I learn which you may be able to apply, and to engage in martial arts discussions. I will try to write again soon.

I hope you were able to see the amazing moon. It was amazing here, though not so amazing as there, from what I hear. I send my thoughts to those in the bus crash on the Aurora bridge (a ride the Ducks bus smashed into a tour bus full of foreign exchange students and faculty, and many were injured, and many deceased). Travellers abroad, which most of the victims were, are wary of such freak accidents and it is sad and scary to experience them. Be safe, and remember to play, despite the world’s cruelty.

I am your humble obedient grovelling kowtowing lowly English teaching kung fu playing wanderer.

Be well,

John Lapham

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