I recently learned a Japanese exercise from a programme shown on NHK World-Japan. It is called radio callisthenics or rajio taiso (literally, “radio gymnastics”) — so named because it was originally broadcast to music on public radio. I think it is ideal for seafarers and other maritime folks who don’t have all the time in the world to exercise.
Beaches have been turned into no-go zones because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While this seems necessary to help stop the virus, it is a real damper. It not only curtails people’s freedom to enjoy sun and sea; it is depriving them of a major source of healing.
“Keep your face always toward the sunshine — and shadows will fall behind you,” according to an old saying. The coronavirus may have cast a long shadow, and the crisis may be far from over. But for those who look at the brighter side, there is an upside to the COVID-19 pandemic even for the hard-hit shipping sector.
My friend Frankie the Sage Cat is smarter than some pundits who appear on television to give their two cents’ worth. But he’ll never be invited to guest on any show. You see, Frankie’s views can be a bit far-out even when it comes to the shipping industry. He’s an iconoclast at heart, always ready to criticise institutions and people’s cherished beliefs. This was evident once again during Marine Café Blog’s latest conversation with the fellow.
There is plenty to learn from the coronavirus pandemic beyond its medical aspect. How individuals and nations have been responding to the crisis speaks volumes about 21st century politics, the global economic order and human nature in general. In the shipping world, COVID-19 has highlighted some basic truths which many have probably taken granted.
It is not only the fragility of life that the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted. It is also the fragility of the thing called “globalisation“. Borders have been sealed off. Nations have barred the entry of ships and planes. The flow of tourists and migrants is put on hold. Suddenly, the global village Canadian futurist Herbert Marshall McLuhan wrote about in the 1960s seems to have exploded and scattered into self-contained little islands.
Many years ago, I learned about Baduanjin (also known as Eight Pieces of Brocade), a Chinese qigong exercise whose origins go back to the 11th century, during the Song Dynasty. The term qigong consists of the characters “qi” (vital energy or spirit) and “gong” (cultivation or mastery). Baduanjin is easy to learn. Probably the best place for performing the exercise is by the sea, but it can done anywhere that is quiet and comfortable.
Several years ago, my interest in Chinese philosophy and healing led me to pingshuai, a simple hand-swinging exercise (pictured above being demonstrated by Yao Huai-Ying on the far left). This basic form of qigong was developed by Master Lee Feng-San Sifu of the...