We have completed the da gong for the Heavenly Set, Human Set, and Earthly Set. According to LiShifu, these three sets of da gong make the body strong like iron provided that the training is done well. Yet, the degree of proficiency is a gradual process, which takes years. The end result is illustrated in the ability to do long, high jumps, withstand kicks, punches and falls, and the like without the risk of injuries. Direct blows are fatal when combined with Fa Jin (power emissions). According to LiShifu, “There is no other form of da gong training that gives you this much core power than these three sets of da gong, which if done well, over time, the body will acquire a tremendous amount of power.”
However, amongst the three, the Earthly Set is the most difficult. Most people are not able to do this because the body has to be physically fit. In order to endure the challenge that comes with training the Earthly Set, the body has to have muscles, which helps to absorb the force of impact when the body hits the ground, or the like, otherwise it is very easy to get injured and then you are out of the game.
Although it was quite challenging, I found the Earthly Set to be most enjoyable because after a couple days of training, I could feel something changing or possibly even enhanced in my core strength. A feeling that was a bit familiar to my training in Iyengar Yoga, which also works to strengthen the body’s core strength. But this strength is different from the one acquired through Yoga, it is much stronger. This is further illustrated with my training in the Gung Fu basics. I noticed with regard to jump kicks I did not strain so much to complete a kick and there was more power in reserve to finish the sequence. I felt the power from my lower dantian more apparent as I was able to utilize it more freely. While my da gong training is in its infancy, and of course too soon to see real results, I could feel subtle shifts in my core strength.
This Saturday was new moon so as usual in the early morning we had a ceremony in the main temple that consists in the recitation of the Morning Scripture, led by Li Shifu. Every time it is an unique and uplifting experience to be together in front of the altar of the Five Immortals for these occasions.
This week we completed the Wudang Five Dragons Ba Gua Zhang. Now that the structure is set we can pass to a new phase of practice and start to train the whole form individually. Practicing it many times in a row allow us to experience more and to connect more with it. The Gong of the Wudang Wu Long Ba Gua Zhang, translated as”Wudang Five Dragons Eight Trigrams Palm”,influences one’s whole life, working on many levels and unifying them. As Li Shifu said a few nights ago :”It is not a common Kung Fu form, it is a pathway to connect and communicate with the higher realms”.
In general it is amazing to notice how much in such a short time everybody’s strength, posture, coordination and energetic field improved and I believe that the Wudang Wu Long Ba Gua Zhang played a big role in this process of transformation.
We recently also started to practice sword. The sword is the representative weapon of Wudang, and is used to train martial arts as a weapon, and also as a token of spiritual power during rituals. In the past only persons of high morality and culture were allowed to carry and use it.
Traditionally, beginners would start practicing sword movements with a wooden stick, to strengthen their wrist and arms while gaining flexibility and speed, and only after they would have reached a sufficient level of proficiency would they be allowed to use a proper sword. For the first few days we learned and trained some basics sword movements. Then we started to practice the Wudang Five Dragons Seven Stars Sword. The main difficulty is, as Li Shifu says, « to have the body unify with the sword, rather than have the sword follow the body ».
The Wudang Five Dragons Seven Stars Sword also contains circle walking and has many similarities with the Wudang Five Dragons Ba Gua Zhang. It is at the same time soft and powerful and everybody enjoys it and puts efforts in learning the complicated sequences of movements.