At the beginning of 2016 we were invited to collaborate with our friends at the Soen Ren school and Ben Conway to create a martial arts display and perform it for at The Assembly Rooms as part of a three hour show for The Chinese Consulate General and The Chinese Societies of both Edinburgh and Glasgow.
With only a matter of weeks to learn an entirely new form, get it to performance level and learn to synchronise it with the other members of the team, the pressure was on.
Here is an account of the event by David Bailey.
In mid-December I got an email from Kami looking for volunteers to take part in a kung fu demonstration. The demonstration was to be part of the Chinese Society of Edinburgh's New Year celebrations at the beginning of February. After scanning the email - and not noticing various key details - like that the demonstration would be 'for several hundred people' - I decided to volunteer.
I had only joined Bai He Alba in May and the demonstration sounded like something that would provide a focus to train for. I expected there would be a lot of volunteers and that I would perhaps be a reserve or have some kind of role as an 'extra'. But it turned out that there were only a few people free for the date of the performance and that I was going to be part of two pairs, learning and synchronising a new form for one of the sections of the performance.
We had about a month to get things ready and the approaching performance gave a fantastic target to work towards. We were training up to 4 nights a week. It was the first conditioning form that I'd learnt, where we were actually striking and blocking each other. The actual moves, the punches, kicks and blocks were learnt quite quickly, in spite of a few mishaps, such as falling off my bike in mid January and injuring the part of my leg that was being struck by my partner. That made for a week or two of painful practice sessions.
What was really difficult was synchronising the pairs during the form, because we were performing back to back. This was something that we were working on right up until the dress rehearsal on the day of the performance.
On the big night, waiting in the wings to go on stage was really nerve-racking because I could see between the curtains that there were perhaps 700 or 800 people in the audience. My anxiety was rising until I realised that I was putting all my attention on what could go wrong, rather than all the practice I'd put in and the process that I’d learnt. Once I changed my focus my anxiety eased and when we went on stage it went smoothly and in sync. I think our demo team probably got the biggest cheer of the evening.
Looking back on it it was a fantastic experience. It gave me something to work towards, so I worked harder and with more attention than I would have done otherwise. I also got to work for a common goal with other people from the club. I got to know them better, feel more a part of the club and share an experience with them that was like nothing I'd done before.
It gave me a chance to push my comfort zone a little and to expand my horizons.