Four weeks in to our exploration of Heavenly Horse Peak Tai Ji Quan, and momentum is really starting to build. It is hard to believe that these fresh off-the-boat wide-eyed students who set out on this journey such a short time ago could have come so far, but from every intensive training session to the next it is easy to see young warriors in the making.
The sweat drips off the brow of all participants as we dig deep and push through all aspects of our training, and with the guidance of Li Shifu and the wisdom of his teachings, the circulating movements and energy is finally starting to flow uninterrupted and take shape. Stiff rigid bodies are finally starting to loosen up and release a lifetime worth of accumulated tension, and now all the different components of the training schedule are really fusing together to complement and support each other. Step by step this comprehensive system accumulated by Li Shifu from over his lifetime of cultivation and exploration is slowly and surely guiding us along our chosen path with as much ease and grace as one could wish for. Within itself I feel this is already enough and has exceeded all expectations of a broad range of students upon which have different calibers and levels of understanding of Tai Ji Quan and internal practices, but in my eyes this is by no means the highlight or the focal point of our endeavor.
The real treasure for me lies in the quality time spent with Li Shifu and students discussing any and every topic which may arise, and with eager beaver students like us from every corner of the world, with a thirst for knowledge and trying to grasp some kind of understanding of the universe in which we live and what it is all about, our questions and conversations sure do take some unexpected interesting detours. The topics ranging from the different realms of existence and how to build up your bio-magnetic field and preparation for the exploration, to the ancient Mayan culture and their ways, straight into UFOs and extra-terrestrials, and then right back down to the food on the table, picked from our garden, its medicinal properties, and what it can help heal in our bodies. Quoting Li Shifu « If you don’t have questions, then what are you doing here? ». With this kind of attitude and freedom of speech which follows, you never know what is coming next, and that is the beauty of it.
Some of my favorite moments are from the time spent enjoying evening meals in the open-air courtyard, as the mid-summer sun sets and transitions into a dark yet bright starry night, all gathered around the table like little kids listening to the fountain of knowledge that is Li Shifu, as he opens our thoughts and unlocks the doors to the secrets of the cosmos. There is no boundaries to the depth of our conversations as our thoughts naturally soar off into the night, only then to be let go off and released, as our focus comes home to the breath and we prepare for a late evening meditation. These truly are magical times.
With my Chinese language skills, coming from a standing point of zero unfortunately, still, communications between students and the master are a hundred percent, as the German disciple Cheng Cai smashes down the language barrier and never misses a beat. Word for word he translates everything that comes out of Li Shifu’s mouth and vice-versa when the student speaks. To have this level of transmission with a master is truly priceless as so many times in the past I have missed out on vital information due to the lack of conversation skills.
I would consider myself to be a semi-well-travelled man having spent the majority of the last 6 years trying to make my way around 6 continents, and I truly mean it when I say that I have never come across a man, or a « common man » as Li Shifu refers to himself as, quite like this before. Which such character and charisma, it is hard to take your eyes off him. On the training ground, his presence demands respect and exudes authority as he shouts « Go Lower! » and students’ legs begin to tremble and shake; but this is so finely well-balanced with a warm, open, kind-hearted man, within whom us students are so fortunate to spend so much quality time with, living in such close quarters. There is not a day gone by where i haven’t seen him smiling and laughing out loud with his cheeky grin and trickster-like facial expressions, this guy really is something special. Just being in his energetic field, it is hard not to feel a sense of well-being and contentment. As made clear quite fast upon arrival: « This is not a school nor an academy, but a temple, a home, and we are family ». And this is exactly the atmosphere that surrounds you.
On a personal note, i have sought out teachers in the past in search of true wisdom, guidance and answers, and although some were helpful and served a purpose, I always felt slightly reserved and not fully comfortable with the idea of calling any of them my master. It is hard to put my finger on it, but it may have something to do with the fact that I always got the impression that certain information was being held back, which led to a lack of openness and honesty within which I needed to fully trust in a guide and call him « Shifu ». Thankfully this is not the case anymore.
Finally, to finish up, here are a few sentences that came from the main man himself:
« Start from the beginning, lay the proper foundations so your house can be built high. With time and sweat, build up your gong so your magnetic field is strong and then you can venture into the dream world and the depth of meditation, protected and more than capable. »
This week report has been written by one of this year Taiji Course participant: Cheng Qi