Martial Arts Diversity

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During my visit to Ditan Park last Saturday morning, my friend Kevin and I saw Beijingers practicing a wide range of martial arts styles. It was especially great to have Kevin explaining things to me; he's studied taiji (tai chi) for over ten years and was well versed in a lot of the different styles.

Some people were in the park practicing on their own. I couldn't stop watching this woman. Even though she is clearly older, she was absolutely fantastic. She had deep poses and had rock solid balance. I only wish I had been standing two feet to the right when I took this shot so the tree wasn't in the way.
Older woman doing taiqi.

There were people practicing with weapons too, like these spear and sword guys.
Man practicing with a Chinese spear. Man practicing with two Chinese swords.

Others practiced with schools. During the week the schools practice in buildings, but during the weekends they come out to the parks. They apparently have their territory staked out. They indicate their school with banners they hang out.
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You can really see the difference in some of the forms. This is a northern style that emphasizes straight line attacks. They even practice along straight paths.
Man doing martial arts on a tree lined path.

By contrast this guy is practicing on a ring of bricks. He stepped brick to brick as he practiced his forms.
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There was a guy practicing bagua over and over again, forming a circle in the dirt. I'm only sorry I didn't get a photo of the dude too.
Circle in the dirt.

There were some beginners too. This is a well-known taiqi master working with a set of beginners.
Taiqi instructor facing a row of students.

Unlike martial arts classes in the US, there were no fancy uniforms or belts. People were practicing in leather shoes, sneakers, jeans, shorts, whatever. It was really cool to see this all in one place. I'll have to find a class and come out.

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