A dreamer, who crossed the thousands miles in search of Tai Chi
The history of China dating back to over five thousands years and its ancient civilization ,both extensive and profound, starts far back and runs a long course, attracting large number of intellectuals from inside and outside of the country for culture exploration. Gregory Charles Fleisner is from U.S.A. and he is one of the admirers of China for its rich and deep rooted tradional culture that has been flourishing throughout the centuries. He spent major part of his life working on education and the uniqueness of Chinese traditional culture has never failed to spur him and intrigued him even more as he immerse into the local culture.
He has been working at a high school in the capital, Beijing, doing the same old job as an English teacher. Three years of teaching life in Beijing not only brought him in acquaintance with many local friends but also got deeper understanding and research on Chinese culture. While having a conversation with some friends in Beijing, they talked about the Daoist culture of China and he came to the knowledge that ethics of Zhuang Zi found in the collection of texts on ancient Chinese civilization, which has already been prevalent among the folks. Since then he developed a connection with the Mount Wudang, a sacred place and the shrine for thousands of admirers for Daoism.
By taking some time off from the school during the summer and winter vacation, he wants to travel to different places in China and visits those ancient heritage sites especially Mount Wudang, whose both scenery beauty and traditional aspects can carry away anyone in complete fascination .Unfortunately, he could not make it earlier because of his family wanted him to be back and reunion. He had to give up his idea for the time being, waiting for an appropriate chance in future. Apparently due to his condition of spending major portion of his career in teaching without engaging much physical exercise that lead him suffer from many profession related disorders especially in the legs and shoulders. Stiffness in the shoulder that causes him so much pain and inconveniences exceptionally when there is a need for exertion of force and the sharp pain his legs that cause him a killing sensation when they are lifted over three-feet from the ground. Hence, he has to be very gentle with steps while waking.
First time he went to Beijing for work was in 2012. That was also his first mission to realize the dream that he had since youth for the inquisitive exploration on Chinese traditional culture and on the other hand, he wanted to make some improvement on his legs by the traditional Daoist health preserving culture of China. But then his earlier practices of Taiji with friends in Beijing for a certain period of time could not last for long and failed to bring an apparent progress in his physical performance.
For a few years after his return, he spent all his leisure reading materials about the culture of Wudang Martial arts and Daoist concept of health preservation. In his process of research on internet, he has made a list of top five Kung Fu schools for further analysis. He made an extensive research over the introduction of the schools, their culture background and videos of different forms of Wudang martial artists. Eventually, the final decision came on the China Wudang Kung Fu Academy for he has been watching great number of videos of Master Chen for the past many years and specially the training environment in this Kung Fu academy which has the aspects of peace and harmony manifested in a blend of diverse culture.
He assured us by saying, “The practices of Taiji Kung Fu in other schools are also very good but when we make a little comparison, Master Chen’s practice overweighs that of others because uniqueness in his style that make anyone can genuinely sense his movements. It’s not just the practices of martial arts but a dialogue between the nature by a language conferred through the movements of the body”. This is how he fell in love with the Wudang and he promptly booked the flight ticket to China after getting all required instructions from the administration of the academy. This time, his journey to the East is not for work but only for the purpose of healing and cultivating both body and mind.
China is a very beautiful country! He likes Chinese culture and food! He kiddingly said, “I miss the Peking Roast Duck! Food in this school are prepared and served with balance ingredients particularly for the purpose of health preservation, light aroma but absolutely equivalent to traditional menu.
The architecture of the school was miraculously accomplished in perfect harmony with the nature’s beauty especially its quiet and peaceful environment which has a great effect on enhancing one’s sleep at night. Waking up early in the morning, the landscape view of the nearby hills from the window is incredibly refreshing as you breathe a lung full of fresh air. You can also hear the birds singing songs in a various vocal pitch, this all make you completely immersed with the nature while enjoying its beauty. He said, “To be away from the noises of the city life, to be away from the rapid pace of life, also to be away from the culture of fast food. There is no way to have such a wonderful experience in my homeland just as here”. In the meanwhile, “Every moment of my stay in this school can ignite the spark for the genesis of new thoughts and perceptions which indeed gave me a whole new understanding about my own life. And it is like I’ve got a new life!”
Regarding the practices of Taiji Kung Fu, one has to start from the three-part training method which includes Wudang Fundamental Forms for the lower part of body, Daoist Bone Healing Qigong for the waist and Taiji Basic Steps for the upper part. This training method is particularly combined and designed by the Master Chen with his life time dedication on Taiji practice. It is now considered the best and the most original set of fundamental practices of Taiji for the beginners to learn the basics on Taiji Quan along with the instructions given by the coach. He is fairly satisfied with his own coach, Master He Zixi who has a lot of patience while teaching and he never faced any difficulty in understanding his instructions as he can speak a little English along with his bodily gesture. Surprisingly, he figured out the major difference between the practice of Taiji in Beijing and that of here. The three-part training method is a precise combination of basic elements with the perfect flow of body movements which focus on uniting the mental and physical forces in order to achieve an optimum balance between the two. Hence, the Taiji practice we are training here is immensely effective in healing one’s body and mind.
“I am especially fond of the Wudang Taiji form. After a period of healing and regulating my body, it has been very effective since there is a significant improvement and signs for the recovery of the body performance. Now, my shoulders and legs can move freely and engage in most of the physical activities. So, I consider this as a reward of practicing Taiji Kung Fu!” said as he stood up, excitedly demonstrating his physical agility for movements.
After years of his career in teaching, he is now a student in the academy. Not only has he retained a certain degree of modesty but also he has developed his own method for grasping the training tactics. He said “Learning martial arts resembles memorizing English vocabulary; as soon as you are familiar with the steps you can combine them together into a complete form.” “As there is a higher level of accomplishment in the practice of Daoism where the human and immortals meet in single realm”, he sighed. A Chinese proverb which puts it “A hurried man can never get a hot Doufu. So I had better to learn them step by step!”
Eventually, he picked up one the pamphlets on the desk given the introduction about the academy saying, “Because of my time schedule I could only apply for the half-year training program this time. I will cherish the every moment of stay in this academy and learning the culture of Wudang martial arts and culture of health preservation. I am thrilled to be back to this place even after completing my entire course here because it has become a second home to me now”, without any hesitation.