Wu Xian Miao is a temple and as Li Shifu informs new students and reminds us from time to time that ”This is not a Kung Fu school, not a martial arts academy, it is a Temple”. We learn how to conduct our behavior appropriately in the temple, e.g. meal time mantra’s, ringing the heavenly drum, lighting of incense and more simple things like wearing long sleeve shirts and long trousers in the temple. Li Shifu is not strict or imposing with temple rules, but we are happy to learn about daoist tradition and a respectful atmosphere is maintained.
The previous week we trained 8 days no rest day and then a 2 day period of no classes, many students had requirement of society (The Red Dust) and during the 2 days arranged visa’s, registered at the local police station, bought fruit and snacks for the week ahead, and carried vegetables up the mountain from the local village. The basic task of learning the 33 postures is complete and the more difficult task of mastering the postures lays ahead, As Li Shifu often says ”Time Plus Sweat Equals Gong”. At 5am before sunrise we awake to the sound of the heavenly drum,assemble,and run several hundred metres to the summit of the mountain, the clouds mean dour through the valleys bellow like the tail of a dragon swimming through the lower mountain peaks. After the gasping breaths and heavy heart beats of the morning running we have individual time for practice; sun-gazing, stretching, longevity Qi Gong, standing meditation, chanting scripture etc…. And allow the stillness of the morning to enter us.
Training schedule is dynamic, adapting to temple needs, weather and seasons, but usually we have 2 group taiji classes a day, each class lasting several hours; we kick, punch, stretch, hold postures, fa jin, silk reeling, and of course train to synchronize the movements so we move as one. The training is challenging and all students experience trembling legs and are soaked in sweat, we are encouraged by Li shifu’s comment ”Bu Pa Lei, Bu Pa Ku, Bu Pa Tong” (don’t fear tired, don’t fear bitter, don’t fear pain). Rain was heavy this week, Li Shifu took the opportunity to teach Daoist Medicine Massage Techniques. Albert Einstein once said ”if you cant explain your ideas to an 8 year old, you don’t really understand them yourself” Li Shifu clearly understands what he teaches, his instructions are straight forward and clear, are classmates are ranging from novice to TCM Doctors(Traditional Chinese Medicine) and everyone had something to gain from the lectures and practical practice. Shifu’s teaching is accessible to non Chinese speakers as many students speak Chinese to a high standard and accurately translate for non-Chinese language speakers.
This week was the new moon and Li Shifu led the singing of the morning scripture, all students dressed in Daoist clothes attended 5 immortal temple to join in the chanting or just listen/observe. When the whistle blows students assemble for class or meal time. The meals are all vegetarian, dishes are varied and tasty, rice, noodle,beans,soup,green veg, steamed buns, too many to mention. Li Shifu encourages to eat full as training is tough. Daily chores at the temple are simple and take only several minutes to complete, all students have a positive attitude towards these tasks and usually 5-10 minutes after breakfast the temple cleaning is complete. At daytime we find stillness in movement and evening we find movement in stillness; the evening is a time for meditation. People enjoy to meditate in different places, in the temple’s, under the stars, in the forest and even in their rooms. One evening this week we substituted mediatation for star gazing and we all sat quietly in the main courtyard and watched the stars, planets, wandering satalites and the strange lights of the night sky.
The week finished off with performance, although students were tired and some injured we did are best to individually show Li Shifu are Taiji form, he corrected are errors and gave advice to each student so we can improve and meet the requirements. In Daoism often people speak about balance, but talk is easy, doing is more difficult . The students are from many different parts of the world and cultural backgrounds Germany, Poland, France, Ireland, Australia, Portugal, Mexico and Denmark, each student with different ages, martial ability, Goals and objectives; we train together under Li Shifu’s guidance and although training is hard, life feels simple and balanced.