1. Buddha’s Warrior Attendant Pounds Mortar

The first milestone along the way. I’ve heard various translations of several of the moves, but I’ve only ever heard this one with exactly this name. It appears 4 times in the form, 3 times in the first 13 and at the very end. However, one of these is a kind of reverse mortar, where the lower hand is the fist and the open hand, the “mortar”, faces downwards.

Emerson and I have decided the appropriate stop for this is Meckering, a small town about 130km east of Perth that is famous for being severely “pounded” by an earthquake at 10:59am on Monday 14 October 1968. Some nice photos here from an article commemorating the 50th anniversary last year.

The wikipedia article says it was a public holiday. I can only assume it was the Queen’s Birthday public holiday that we now have on the first Monday in October, but I may correct this after further research. Interestingly, the article states:

A later earthquake at Cadoux in 1979 was on a par with the Meckering event in some people’s memories, although less damage occurred in Perth.

I think I remember the Saturday 2 June 1979 one happening – I would have been 16 at the time, an impressionable age – while I was standing in my bedroom, the only earthquake I can remember that was anything like what was depicted in the movie Earthquake. That 1974 movie left quite an impression on me, especially crawling into the Sensurround mega woofers at the front of the movie theatre. So many great disaster movies around that time. Who could forget Jaws, for instance? I still haven’t seen probably the most popular at the time though, The Towering Inferno. What do we have these days: Sharknado? Anything really changed?

Another burning question I have about 14 October 1968 is, “The Beatles” (white album) was recorded between 30 May to 14 October 1968, but “Julia” was the last song recorded for the album on 13 October 1968, so what was recorded after this only song in the Beatles canon that is solely Lennon? Incidentally, 10:59am WA time would have been 2:59am England time. I have noted that daylight saving was not observed in WA in 1968 (WA’s employment of daylight saving has been the most checquered of any state in Australia).



The 81 Stops

I’ve mapped out a tentative map of the shape of the tour:

osborne park wa to osborne park, western australia 6017 – google maps

It’s roughly three sections:

  1. Perth to Alice Springs via the Great Central Road
  2. South from Alice Springs to Port Lincoln via the Oodnadatta Track 
  3. Return to Perth via the Great Australian Bight

Having done some preliminary research, I have some concerns about the Crime in Alice Springs, particularly the bit in the Alice Springs Wikipedia entry where it says:

Youth crime is a serious problem in Alice Springs, especially at night when large numbers of youths wander the streets of the town unsupervised, committing assaults and burglaries, vandalising property and throwing rocks at moving vehicles.

But I figure we’ll need to pick up some supplies after travelling the Larapinta Drive. Let’s just hope that Wikipedia is totally inaccurate/out of date on that score.

26 Jan (Australia Day) – Last night I dreamt we stopped at Whyalla, where there was a fork in the road, one road continuing along lush bushland, the other heading up into the hills. So I guess I have to make sure Whyalla is one of our stops to see if it looks anything like my dream – I do hope not. Incidentally, I comprehensively celebrated Australia Day today by putting on my Spike Milligan CD and singing along to Australia. The family was not amused. Incidentally, the “Australian” voices in this song – i.e. the bulk of it – were done by the great John Bluthal, who only died recently (November 2018). A long-time associate of Spike’s, I think his (with Spike’s fellow Goon Peter Sellers) is the finest rendition of the “Does Your Dog Bite?” gag, from The Pink Panther Strikes Again. Bluthal lived in Melbourne from 1938 aged 9 until 1949, so that would explain his Australian accent credibility.

The 81 moves

My reference for these is the Practical Method web site, specifically: http://practicalmethod.com/2008/02/chen-style-taijiquan-practical-method-81-form-names/

Interestingly, I also read here that:

Chen Zhonghua learned this form from Hong Junsheng in 1979. It took him till 1983 to finish learning it.

So four or five years to learn a form is quite OK.

The 81 are divided into 6 sections. The first section is widely known as “The First Thirteen”. It’s harder to name the other sections; you can’t call the second section “The Second Fifteen” or “The Next Fifteen” because you haven’t done the first fifteen yet!

Anyway, here is the list of these 81 moves: form names. I’ve added a couple of other tabs with some other general principles and sayings from a book I recently acquired, “Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method Volume One: Theory” by Hong Junsheng.


Fascinating reading, as is the Wikipedia article, especially when you consider what was going on in China last century. One sentence summary as I understand it: The Chen family version of Taijiquan was created in the undocumented past and only came to be well known when Yang Luchan, a disciple of 14th generation Grandmaster Chen Changxing, started teaching in Beijing; Chen Changxing’s great-grandson, Chen Fake, was Hong Junsheng’s teacher; Hong Junsheng’s taijiquan “is a true copy of Grandmaster Chen Fake’s”, however he modified the style so that every move has practical application. OK, so I cheated the one sentence limitation with semi-colons, but I hope I’ve managed to capture some of the traditional Chinese “semi-paradoxes” there. The other cloudy feature here is the family name Chen which is an extremely common family name. I hope you have a couple of questions by now, at least one of which should be: Do you have to have the family name Chen to be a Grandmaster in Chen Family Taijiquan?

Anyway, the style I am learning is Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method. The Grandmaster of this style would then be Hong Junsheng himself, according to the above statement that he modified the “authentic” Chen Family Taijiquan; but on the other hand if you accept that he is in the Chen Family Taijiquan lineage, he was I believe the 18th generation Grandmaster. Probably enough on that.

Of course you can’t actually learn taijiquan from a list of moves or a book of theory. You have to do it, and for that I have the assistance of my Si Fu Gawain Siu and his son Jhung Siu, both disciples of Chen Zhonghua, the translator of the above-pictured book and the current world standard bearer for Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method. Incidentally, although Chen Zhonghua also learned from another disciple of Chen Fake, Feng Zhiqiang, and (according to the Wikipedia article), “Through practicing with Feng, Chen experienced a different interpretation of Chen t’ai chi ch’uan”. As far as historical authenticity goes, I will never know exactly how Chen Fake did his taijiquan, and as far as I know there are only still photos of Hong Junsheng in action, but I do have a video of Chen Zhonghua, who visits Perth annually for workshops.



Preparation Form

Late last year I finally managed to bumble my way solo through the whole Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method 81-Form Yilu for the first time. In case that doesn’t mean anything to you, Taijiquan (or more simply, tai chi) is a form of Chinese martial art; these Chinese martial arts are sometimes collectively known as Chinese Boxing. I was first introduced to this form in a workshop in 2013. Five years to learn 81 moves! Prior to this I had started learning a different version of Chen Style Taijiquan around 1995, but at the time I started Practical Method, I had still not made it to the end of that one! Now at such a slow learning rate, how can I hope to ever get any better? I pondered.

Anyway, this year I’ve got long service leave. In the Western Australian Public Service, that means I’ve been working for seven years, and I get 60 days’ leave. I’ve been formulating a plan to drive around the interior of Australia, with some ideas for particular places I’d like to visit, e.g. Kata Tjuta in NT, Wilpena Pound in SA, and Peak Charles in WA. I’ve even gone so far as to purchase a Subaru Outback for the purpose – the Boxer diesel variety.

2011 Subaru Outback

However, this trip has to coincide with UWA’s 2019 mid-year vacation – students start holidays on Monday 17 June and go back on Monday 29 July – so my daughter Phoebe can go too. Six weeks.

So what’s the connection? Six weeks, 42 days, approximately half of 81. Of course: an Outback Boxer tour.

23/1/19 – Package arrived in the mail today.


I always seem to put roof racks on vehicles and then the vehicles move on and the replacement vehicle needs new ones. We need these roof racks for this trip to carry the luggage in the pod.


The pod’s been sitting in the shed for some time, last used in earnest for our Monkey Mia trip


in 2005.


The Toyota Camry that sported the pod previously was given to Roy Martinez, the bass player in Tim Minchin’s Come Home (Cardinal Pell) video. So that’s where the old Rola roof racks went.

Rather fiddly installation of these roof racks involving cutting up some plastic “under cover strips”. The manual stipulated a 700mm distance between crossbars. I wondered why not more. After reading lots of unhelpful stuff on the Internet about people with long kayaks complaining that the crossbars are not far enough apart and how much better the older Subarus were I decided to go with the 700mm.


The pod’s back!