My updated website

I have been working on this project for more than 2 years – if you count the years I have been practicing martial arts to the level on where I feel myself good enough to teach it, it would be more than 15 years altogether.

I feel exhilarated at this, because this is something I created all by myself and I want to teach people on how to live the life they want! What is a life not lived intensely anyway?

Please comment below on what you think and how I could help you!

http://www.bodymindchallenger.org

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Modeling Jack Ma

A couple of weeks ago, my husband organized a big meeting to explain our new project. After the meeting, a guy came up to me and we were talking about Kung fu and Tai Chi, as he knew I was practicing and teaching Tai Chi.

He told me something very interesting, which my husband also told me but I didn’t want to listen. I knew Jack Ma was practicing Tai Chi and that he had a school for Tai Chi in Hangzhou. But, my husband said that his school was not successful and that even he couldn’t earn much money with it.

I have been frustrated that people didn’t want to pay much money for my Tai Chi classes, even though I have many years of experience and did a few competitions. I wanted to make Tai Chi a part of my career, but have been struggling for 2 years now. Eric, my husband, was already saying that I shouldn’t focus on something that I love, but that I need to earn money in another way and just practice by myself. Which makes more and more sense because I could already feel that I liked Tai Chi less and less, because I became frustrated with me struggling to get students and to try to get people as motivated in Tai Chi as I was. I realize now that I can’t change people: I have to accept that most people don’t see Tai Chi the way I see it.

That man told me that Jack Ma is going to make a movie with him acting in it doing Tai Chi. He has an amazing cast, all big Kung fu and Tai Chi stars will be in it: Jet Li, Donny Yen, even Tony Ya from Thailand. I was amazed that he could pull this off. But, now I realize that I have to do like him: I need to earn money in another way. And when I earn enough (doesn’t have to be as much as him), I can practice Tai Chi and do whatever I want with it, because I will have enough money from my other business(es).

I took Tai Chi as an example, because that is my passion and I was listening to too many videos of following your passion and money will follow. Everyone has a different passion, so you can change Tai Chi into your passion. But, I also found out that I have a few passions. My other and greater passion is to be a coach and stand on stage in front of many people. This new project with my husband will get me there. And, who knows, when I have enough money and enough exposure, I can stand on that stage and teach some Tai Chi there!

Challenge yourself

On 17 September we did an Elite Challenge in Dapeng Shenzhen. We – my husband, I and another team member – went to Dapeng on Saturday evening. At 5am on Sunday, 17 September we got up and went to the starting point.

At 7am, we started with kayaking and swimming. My husband and I kayaked and our other team member had to swim. We had to get something and bring it back. We were the first to arrive back! A great victory at the beginning, but nothing compared to what we had to do next.

The other activity was to run 7km with 5kg on our shoulders. We were walking the way, because the most challenging would be the trail into the mountains and we wanted to conserve our energy.

The trail in the mountains WAS the most challenging! It was more than 33 degrees and we ran out of water after 1 hour. The trail was 13km, but because we were so thirsty, we moved quite slowly. After 3 hours, we finally found mountain water. It was the tastiest we ever had! We were drinking, filling our bags and felt really good. You can’t describe in words how real thirst feels like and how heavenly it is to have water. WATER IS really LIFE!

After only half an hour, though, we ran out of water again and felt really thirsty again. The trail was long, the sun was just too bright and hot!

When we finally got out of the mountains after about 7 hours, there was a checkpoint where they gave us water and food. I drank another liter and ate some food. Then, we had to run another 8km, but we were all tired and just walked fast while keep on drinking water.

At last, we had to do some ‘fun’ activities, like climbing over a wall and crawl under barbwire, but we were so tired, we couldn’t really enjoy that. We finally finished in less than 11 hours.

We got a medal and also our pride to have finished it. It was a real challenge, but overall I enjoyed it and want to do this more in the future.

We always have to keep on improving ourselves. With this challenge I know what my body is capable of, but also where my weakness still is, so I can train myself to keep on improving.

With this article I just want to tell everyone that everyone can do it! 2 years ago, I couldn’t even run 5km. Now, I run marathons and do challenges like this. So, you can shape yourself in whatever you want to become!

7 day juice fast

My husband and I will start a juice fast for 7 days, which is about our new project.

My husband had a restaurant for about 8 months and he could see what restaurant life was. He was shocked at all the food additives that existed and he got the insight that a restaurant is all about making money and doesn’t care about our health. So, they take the low quality cheap meat and vegetables, load it with food additives to look, smell and taste nice.

This was against his and my values! I was more than happy that he sold the restaurant, because I was against it from the beginning as I know that it is hard for a restaurant to keep high quality and still make money.

Our new project is about healthy, natural food. We are reading books and watching a lot of documentaries about healthy food and maintaining a strong healthy body. Later, we will give trainings in these health matters and we are looking for farmers in China to cooperate with us to sell organic food.

Our body is the most important thing we have. When we don’t keep it healthy, we can’t do anything anymore. Money can’t buy health, but you can buy good healthy foods. Many people, Chinese and Westerners, go to fast food places and don’t’ think twice about what they are putting in their mouth.

With this fast I want to see how I will change over these 7 days. We have been eating unhealthy for a few months now, because of the restaurant, because of being too busy to cook at home. And I can feel it: my skin has pimples, I have less energy and my mood is not so good. Last year, I was jumping out of bed at 6am to do exercise. Now I stumble out of bed after 8am and need more coffee to just wake up and start my day. This is not who I am.

I am taking control over my life again by taking care of my body and giving it the food it really needs. I see so many people around me that are unaware of what they are doing and we want to teach people, Chinese and foreigners, here in China and abroad about why we shouldn’t eat at restaurants and what a healthy diet really looks like!

Tai Chi teacher in China

I came to China in 2008 to study Kung Fu. I was practicing Kung Fu in Belgium and came to China for the first time in 2007 to travel through the country of this beautiful martial art! I visited tourist places, like Yangshuo, Xi’an and Beijing and also went to Shaolin to see some real Shaolin Kung Fu. When I was in Yangshuo, I met a Kung Fu teacher who had a beautiful family style, BuDiZhen, a mix of Shaolin and Wudang Kung Fu.

 

I decided to live in Yangshuo for 1 year, study Kung Fu and then I thought of moving back to Belgium. Little did I know back then that my life would never be the same again…
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I stayed in Yangshuo and learned from my Kung Fu teacher for 2 years. I had some money saved, so I was an English teacher just part-time and I focused on learning a lot of Kung Fu.

But, after 2 years, I started to hear more about Tai Chi and how it helps you to cultivate your internal energy. I was intrigued by it and finally found a good teacher to teach me Chen Tai Chi.

From 2010, I started to practice Tai Chi. I loved the slow graceful movements, but also the martial aspect of it. Every movement represents a self-defense technique and it is actually hard work. I practiced really hard and went to a couple of competitions: in 2013, I went to Henan, Jiaozuo, the birthplace of Tai Chi to participate in an International competition and I got a gold medal and silver medal. The year after, I went to the World Championship, but didn’t get a medal there.

 

In 2015, I moved to Shenzhen and I started to teach Tai Chi to expats that I met here. I never thought I could be a Tai Chi teacher in China and I didn’t profile myself like that at first. Some people wanted to know a bit more about Tai Chi and because I could speak English, they asked me to teach them. Little by little, I started to be known as the ‘Tai Chi master’ and more people were texting me to know my teaching schedule.

 

I am teaching almost every month now and am having more and more students. I am thinking of a whole project to teach Tai Chi as a whole lifestyle: the movements, the history and the philosophy.

 

When I tell Chinese people that I teach Tai Chi, the first reaction is almost always: but you are not old! Apparently, for Chinese people you have to be old to practice Tai Chi. I always answer: “it’s because I don’t want to become old that I practice.” Because Tai Chi helps to balance your body and mind, makes your body stronger, you will not become old that fast.

 

I find it a shame that Chinese people don’t want to practice Tai Chi anymore. The new generation is not putting much value on it. I heard that in my country it is becoming very popular. The West is discovering ancient Chinese philosophy: Chinese medicine, Chinese arts and Chinese martial arts are all becoming very popular. But, in China they are becoming less and less popular. Do we, Westerners, in the future will have to teach the Chinese about their traditional culture?

 

Rock climbing and life

The past couple of weeks I am really into rock climbing. I have been living in Yangshuo for more than 6 years, but never really did it. I just didn’t hang out with the climbers and I was focussing too much on Tai Chi.

But, since I came back, I have a student who is a climber and I was teaching during Chinese Newyear. On the first day of Chinese Newyear, we had a barbecue on the countryside near a good climbing area. He had his climbing gear with him and some of his friends came to climb as well. It was a perfect day!! And, even though my arms felt pumped mid-way I finished the route, which I was so proud of.

From then on I loved it and went climbing every weekend. I went to places around Yangshuo I had never been before and I met some of the best people. The climbing community is something special! Everyone is very friendly, want to help you, encourage you on your climb and share everything. It is so laid back and being in nature, with birds singing around you, is just a magical feeling.

The other, more magnificent, feeling is the feeling of victory, of overcoming yourself. Rock climbing is a little about technique, but much more about overcoming fear, being confident in your strength and to overcome your mind.

I started with not so easy routes and went to more difficult ones too quickly. I always wanted to give up mid-way (a couple of times I really had to, because it was too difficult), but then my friends would encourage me to try one last time and all of a sudden I could finish the route. So, it’s not my lack of strength or my lack of technique (though if you look at my arms and knees, I do need to work on my technique: I have scratches and bruises everywhere). Mostly, it is in my head. My mind is telling me that I am not strong enough or I suddenly feel afraid of falling and that the rope won’t hold me and I will die.

This is why I want to do rock climbing more often, because it will not only make my body stronger, but most of all it makes my mind stronger. And a strong mind is good in everything you do. If I believe in my abilities, if I overcome whatever fear I might have, I will succeed more in life. I will succeed in other areas in my life as well: finance, relationship, career, health,… Because I take well-measured risks, because I learn to know how far my body and mind can go and I learn to be able to push my limits a little bit higher each time.

I want everyone to know that you can do more and handle more than you think! Whenever you have a difficulty, you can bounce back easier or have more courage to face it and go through! Never let difficulties put you down or give up on something! Know that life gives you some difficult paths to walk on, but that makes it more interesting sometimes and it will make you a stronger person who will have a lot of life experience and will know how to handle a lot of things. You won’t be afraid to live life to the fullest anymore…

But also bear in mind, that you have to take measured risks. To think that you can handle just anything, is foolish. You have to know your limits and if it’s just too difficult, than it means that you have to give up, it’s not the right path for you to walk on. Try a different direction.

Everyone has a different path to follow and everyone will know in the end what it was they had to learn and overcome in their life. But the way towards the end, the learning process, is far more interesting and far more challenging.

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This is what I have discovered while rock climbing. I gave up too easily all the time, I pitied myself sometimes for not having a good career, no money, not having a longlasting relationship. It is amazing that a kind of exercise made me realize so much about my life. Even though, rock climbing is laid back, you are also always aware of the feeling that, if something goes wrong, you lose your life. I think, this is what makes this sport so philosophical as well!

Getting ready for the competition

24 October is the World Championship Competition of Tai Chi here in China. And, I am selected in the Belgian team to compete with the Chen Tai Chi form. I am very happy and feel privileged to be able to join such a big competition!!

But, with it comes hard training… I am in Huizhou now, to learn from a different Tai Chi master. I am here 1 week now and have progressed a lot. My first training, she told me that I can’t possibly join the competition, that my Tai Chi is really bad (thanks for the heads up :P). Anyway, that didn’t put me down, because she really has a high level in Tai Chi and I already consider myself a winner just by being able to learn from her and this all in the Chinese language (which sometimes gives a lot of miscommunication as well).

1 week with practicing for more than 4 hours every day and she has given me a lot of exercises to work on, my body is getting stronger, but I am also getting tired, all my joints hurt like hell and I think I pulled a tendon in my hip. But, I am not giving up. I am counting on Chinese medicine to do a little bit of magic. Only 1 more week to get ready and my master is happy about my progress. She told me that I learn fast, which makes me want to try my best more and not to let her down.

I now have decided to look for a job here next year and learn more from her. She is amazing! And I am glad I found a Tai Chi master who wants to teach me thoroughly (for foreigners it’s difficult to find someone like that, because they don’t put a lot of effort in teaching foreigners properly. Most Tai Chi schools have become very commercialized, unfortunately).

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The square where I practice Tai Chi every morning and evening.

Huizhou is a beautiful city as well, very clean, not so polluted as other Chinese cities and I am staying with a lovely couchsurfer, who gives me more local information.
From here, I can work on my new business idea as well: teach Tai Chi and give workshops. Huizhou is near Shenzhen and Hong Kong, which gives me a chance to go to companies and give workshops as a form of team-building, and work together with travel agencies to teach Western tourists as well. I want Tai Chi to become more popular in the world and want more people to know what it’s all about. A girl may dream, no?

How about you? What dream do you want to fulfill? Did you put your heart and soul in something you are passionate about?