2015-07-07 10.59.35Another week of hard training passed by and the Tai Ji course comes near its end. This week we completed the Tai Ji basics, a long set of exercise to practice Fa Li, the Tai Ji’s power emission, in many different ways and with every part of the body; it comprehends fists, palms, elbows, shoulders, kicks, knees and hips strikes. The shoulders and hips Fa Li are particularly unusual (especially the hip ones which look a little bit like some dancing moves) but also particularly effective; when practicing them is difficult to achieve the feeling of generating a lot of power so when we tried on the mats we were surprised of their devastating power: we have been told that an elbow is worth three punches and that a shoulder is worth three elbows, this makes the Tai Ji practitioner extremely dangerous in close range combat because he is able to generate a lot of power within few centimeters( short power emissions) and with any part of the body, besides, since the power has to travel thru the entire body before striking, the learning of new power emissions helps to understand and improve the ones we already know. This week we have been examined one by one both in water and fire Tai Ji and if on one side our water style generally doesn’t have big problems our fire style is still quite goofy, the techniques of Fa Li are extremely hard to learn properly.
Li Shifu told us some incredible stories about the methods used to practice Tai Ji in the old times like for example DSC01426about various very heavy tools to lift and move around the body to achieve what he calls dynamic power( in opposition to the static power which can only lift weight) and about other special skills. He said nowadays nobody would train in the way he and others martial artist used to train up to a few decades ago, training skill was to protect life and since the childhood one would be constantly in danger, this is why everybody used to hide to train his own special skill where nobody could see him: this was the old Gong Fu word. In this scenery Tai Ji was known only by very few and was considered one of the most powerful systems. Nowadays society changed a lot and training is for many no more than a hobby. Very few train seriously and nobody train with the urge they had in the past. The aim is different and a reflection upon the purpose of practicing needs to be (taken): why are we doing all this? What are the real results one can achieve from training martial arts every day with discipline and constancy? What is behind all this stretching, punching, jumping, behind all this stances, forms and techniques? Where is this going to take us? There are many possible reasons or final aims: you want a better health? You want to face your problems and improve you DSC01431character? You want to increase your energetic field so that you can become stronger and help other people? You want to become a Buddha or an Immortal? I invite everybody to reflect upon his own reasons. Of course training feels good and can be fun but if one wants to achieve some results he has to undergo pain, tiredness and bitterness, sometimes you feel like training, sometimes you don’t but if you want to improve you still have to, Li Shifu always says: one day of training is one day more of gong (skill/achievement), one day without training is losing three days of gong. Martial arts are a tool, or a class, actually maybe something more like an elementary school, there is an old Chinese quote about Tai Ji which says: in ten years you can’t leave the door. This means that you need at least ten years of hard training before leaving the door of Tai Ji, when you have studied all the content and passed all the examination of elementary school you may go to the middle school. Of course not everybody wants to graduate and this is natural considered that the more you go 2015-07-08 14.42.01forward with classes the more the content is challenging and the tests hard, that’s why one should consider his aim.
This week as always we had the possibility to assist to many treatments: some students with eye problems were given some special qigong exercises, some students who got sick from the last weeks cold and humidity or had some old problems where sent to the forest to pick up their herbs and instructed about how to prepare them, some others were treated for the small injuries which arise from the training. The treatments are done by Shifu, by the older students and sometimes by the patient himself (of course everything is always arranged from Li Shifu) and there is always the possibility to learn a lot by observing the methods and the results, this is studying medicine in a practical and natural way. Here some pictures of Li Shifu performing fire healing on a student.
Also work was carried on as usual: this week we chopped some wood and carried a lot of vegetables up the mountain. A special note goes for Irish student Cheng Wang who beaten the previous record for vegetable carrying with 48kg up the steep path that goes from the village to the temple.( After we weighted the bag the news arrived shortly to everyone who cheered him noisily( or with enthusiasm)), although Shifu was not very pleased and said that when we carry things up the mountain we should just use seventy percent of our power so that we train our strength but we don’t risk to injure it.