The red flags are up on a very windy day, so no snorkelling. The kite surfers are joyful – their turn for a perfect day. As the Year of the Snake gets underway it is time to ask the self about its significance, sometimes predator, sometimes prey.

Read More

Here be training

This is not a blog but rather a stream of consciousness. Time is irrelevant as we have returned to our training bubble, otherwise known as Soma Bay on the Red Sea. This is instructor Sunday training with knobs on: uber-megatraining.

If you don’t know about the food, the scenery, the snorkelling then I refer you to previous blogs and video in our diary from that trip here. Nothing much has changed although I draw your attention to the following:

  • You can now get a rare steak cooked rare
  • The service is even more attentive than before
  • The beds are as conducive to sweet dreams as ever
  • The sky is blue and the sea is turquoise

Anyway, conversation is fascinating. “So, Mr Bond, you think you know your patterns?”. “Ummmm, yes?”. “Let us find out how much you have left to learn…”. “Ummmm, right, but could you put down the white cat first?”.

“Why is it so much more tiring than Crete?”. Because your learning is going to a new level. Ah. That is also why your brain is hurting even more than your body.

The workshop in Creative Insults is indescribable (but here we go anyway). The rules are laid out. Four letter words are allowed if sufficiently creative and not standard swear-words. Banned words are the obvious insults any old instructor can come out with. Currently the banned list is not too long, but through overuse “empty calories” may soon be added. Insults must be creative, appropriate, targeted and result in improved performance. Improvisation is a key skill, but this is not standup comedy – it’s a serious aspect of being an instructor. Humour is optional but adds a certain je ne sais quoi. Only the rest of the class should be laughing, unable to help themselves but uncomfortably aware it could be them next.

You see, one of the reasons I like going to places where I don’t speak the language is that I don’t have to tune out other peoples’ conversations. My brain does it automatically as it cannot process the sounds into meaning. My Chinese is largely restricted to “day return to Fuzhou please”, any aspect of food, and any aspect of martial arts. Thus I don’t have to endure “I said to him, so he said to her..” chitchat, but I can spot if an interpreter has not translated a Master’s response to an interview question. However, I have realised that I am missing out on the sheer artistry of insults that are embedded in the Chinese culture. So, mundane Mandarin here I come, and buckle your seatbelts – it’s going to be a bumpy ride once I become fluent in Chinsults.

Our evenings as previously are spent stretching but with added mental pain – Chinese character flash cards. “ooooh I know this one! It’s a bug!”. You said that last time. It’s a lobster. Can’t wait for the late arrivals – lobster is definitely going to throw them – shuffle it back to the top of the pack.

Tonight the Year of the Snake is being celebrated all over the world. Happy New Year.