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!


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…


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?


The 5-year-blues??

I have been living in Yangshuo for more than 5 years now and I am confused, disoriented, lost direction.
I have seen this happening before with other expats living here in Yangshuo, after 5 years, if they hadn’t built a life by then (family, business) they would leave, mostly to a big city in China where you can earn more. I found this a strange phenomenon and couldn’t grasp why people would leave this idyllic place and live in a polluted city. Now I know…

Yangshuo is good to relax and have fun, but if you want to build a life, a future and earn decent money, Yangshuo is not the place. I am teaching fulltime now and I earn just enough to have a good life here, but if I want to travel, if I want to save money, it’s not enough. If I would work the same job, the same amount of hours in a big city, I would earn 3 times more. That is not motivating to stay here, even though it is a beautiful place. It would be better to live and work in a big city and to see Yangshuo as a vacation place, which I am more and more inclined to do! Especially, because Yangshuo is a big tourist destination, and it will be overwhelmed with more and more tourists every year. Then, my beautiful idyllic place will not be that idyllic anymore. I would get more and more annoyed by those 1 or 2 days sightseers who come to spoil the last quiet and clean places left here.

Time to get my life sorted out and to finally find a place where I can build a life, have a decent job and have enough to travel everywhere, not only the remote cheap destinations.

To be continued….



Inspiration and confidence

I am listening to personal power by Tony Robbins and am finding the confidence to change my life!

My life was a mess this whole year. I had problems with the business, lost the motivation to continue the coffee shop because the rent will increase and because I am always busy, never seem to have a free moment; I had problems with my relationship, we grew apart because we each had our own business and we broke up last summer, something that I still can’t get over and made me really down; then problems with my health that started a couple of months ago. First, I had to get stitches in my groin because I fell of a bamboo boat during the shooting of a program for CCTV and since 1 month I have excruciating pain in my shoulder and arm. Apparently, because I have a problem in my neck and I was lifting too many heavy things, so I also guess I have tendonitis in it. It seemed a bit better, but a couple of days ago it got worse, because I carried a box from my shop to my apartment.

So, I feel a failure in every area of my life: I am alone again, feel uncomfortable in my body, because of my health, don’t have a longterm career prospect anymore, am broke (I have only 1000rmb in my account and I have debts because of the shop). Because of all that happened and especially the end of my relationship, I don’t have any confidence anymore, I doubt everything about myself and was crying all the time.

Last year, a friend gave me the ‘Personal Power’ tapes of Tony Robbins. I hadn’t listened to them yet, because of lack of time and maybe not the right moment in my life, I wasn’t ready for it yet. I believe that everything happens for a reason (although I think now that life didn’t have to be so cruel to me to point out I wasn’t in the right direction). So, as I am crawling slowly forward again to get my life together again (not walking yet, every day small babysteps, at least it’s forward again and not backwards anymore), I remembered those tapes and started listening to them. I felt immediately inspired and went enthusiastically on doing all the exercises and I started to feel something close to happiness again. A couple of days ago, Tony asked to picture yourself with your old beliefs and see what that will give you in 5 years, 10 or even 20 years. He wanted to let us feel the pain that our old, limiting beliefs give us. I started crying, had to stop the tape and really felt that most of my beliefs were limiting me and that I was constantly sabotaging myself to live a happy, harmonious life. It was really an eye-opener. He then continued to help us write new beliefs and really believe they will happen and live by them and feel how much joy they will give us, already feel the excitement and confidence they give you.

Some of my old beliefs were that a relationship is a loss of freedom and that my taiji is not good enough. I really want to do something with taiji: I want to open a health center where people can come to relax and learn taiji and yoga. But, I still believed that I sucked at taiji, even though I won a gold and silver medal last summer at an international competition, I said to myself ‘hmmm, maybe I am not too bad,’ but the minute I was back in Yangshuo I thought: ‘who am I? I will never reach a decent level, I am not good, I still need many years of practice.’ And oh wonder, my taiji actually became worse. I can think now: ‘yes, I will never be a master like the great masters in China, because they already practiced since they were little, but I know much more than people in the West, even more than some Western taiji teachers, because I know more about Chinese culture as well.’ So, I shouldn’t beat myself up too much. I should look at what I already have achieved and not at what I still don’t know. I have many new ideas all the time, I am enthusiastic about something and a few months later I hate it, because it becomes a routine or the fun is out of it or I found something new interesting. The only consistency in my life, I see now, is martial arts. Since I was a child I did judo, karate, jiu jitsu, kung fu and now taiji. So, even in taiji I can sometimes relate to things I learned in judo or another martial art I learned. I feel now that I can and will be an inspiration to others. I have a new confidence in myself that I will achieve my goals and live my dreams…

Yesterday, was the first day I wanted to live by my new confidence, not let me feel down and think of all my difficulties, but go ahead smiling. And I had a great evening: I went out to the bar I always go, but now there were several men that started talking to me, dancing with me. There was 1 man who I was interested in and we talked just for a bit, but then he overheard a conversation between my friend and I where I said I was interested in him and he backed off. My friend asked me if I was sad. No way! This is much more than I ever hoped for: I had a great evening with friends, even dared to talk to a man I was interested in, even the fact that I found another man interesting, meant I am moving on from my previous relationship. I am not ready to start a new relationship now anyway. I just felt so good about myself and feel confident for the future.

I can realize my dreams now. I just have to remember that evening and I know that my thoughts sabotage me, so no more unhappy thoughts. Easier said than done, I know, but at least I can see now that even if life is cruel, you can always bounce back!!!