IMG_5295 This week at Five Immortals temple the Taiji training continued, with a focus on linking the postures in both the Water and Fire styles in a more continuous, fluid manner. New content in the form of several different types of Push Hands training was introduced. The objective of these exercises was to introduce partner drills into the Taiji practice of the students, and test how correct the postures were in motion with a real life opponent in a tangible way. However, the focal point of such exercises is in no way competitive or aggressive, but the partners should learn to work in harmony together, listen intently to to the movements and force of their opponent and respond accordingly with an appropriate amount of movement, neither too much nor too little. Emphasis was placed on maintaining low stances while never losing balance or coming away from one’s central axis, which proved difficult especially after a few hours of continuous training. The final form of Push Hands, which seemed to be the trickiest to pick up for most of the students, involved combining the 4 basic Taiji power principles of Peng, Lu, Ji and An into one continuous exercise with multiple combat applications.

During the week, several of the students had interesting experiences with Daoist medicine. Student Cheng Xue was given a simple herbal formula of Sichuan peppercorns and local mountain herb ** for his snoring, which proved successful after a week or so of treatment. Student Cheng Shun took a herbal formula to expel a large amount of stagnated dampness from the body resulting in blockages in the lower back and other regions. After a few days of taking the formula, he awoke with a painful migraine and nausea, and spent the morning vomiting up a significant amount of white frothy phlegm. Li Shifu confirmed this was the dampness’ way of leaving the body, and that it had to leave in one of several ways; through sweat, through faeces or urination, though tears or through vomit. The somewhat unpleasant experience on this occasion was most likely due to Cheng Shun visit to the nearby city to sign in a the police station the day before. This sudden change in energy fields from the temple to the city may have upset smoothness of the healing process, and resulted in a more violent expulsion of the damp pathogens.

However, the most dramatic healing experience was undoubtedly Cheng Xi, who on his penultimate day on Bai Ma Shan underwent his final fire treatment by senior student Cheng Jiu. Cheng Xi suffered from chronic cold and pain in his knees and lower back, and had slowly been recovering through herbal and fire treatment. As he was leaving soon, and he was in an otherwise healthy condition, it was decided that the intensity of the final treatment should be increased. After the fire treatment had opened up the pores on his skin, a mixture of hot chilli and strong alcohol was vigorously massaged into his back by Cheng Jiu. The results were painful for Cheng Xi to say the least, and he spent the next hour or so hopping around as if on fire. That being said, all remnants of cold seemed to leave the body after this. Li Shifu added that this was in fact a valuable experience; if he ever experienced cold again, he could bring his mind back to this experience, and bring back this feeling of heat as a kind of qigong exercise. If he could successfully do this he will never be cold again.