One of our senior coaches Xienshang Alex is currently at the University of California in Davis working on his PhD and delivering Lishi classes to students in a variety of settings. Here are some of his facebook posts from the trip. We will keep posting them here or you can follow him on facebook
15 November at 02:58
“Safely in Davis, CA with a lovely chickpea stew
Took the BART and Amtrak all by myself; met a lovely guy who I thought was a woman whose Dad is a Shaolin method inheritor living in Calgary. Just before Davis a woman from the train asked if I wanted a lift anywhere so I said yes. Turns out she knew me from some seminars over the years. Her husband was waiting and dropped me off at Lynette’s place. How cool is that? Hope I don’t sound too jet lagged.. hey – should I do regular updates from this trip??
15 November at 19:29
“Very active Lishi Harmony Arts class this morning 7 – 8.30am. Yes they like to start early here.. lots of conditioning, rolling, balancing.. Lovely small group of people attending, loads of potential. Amazing big breakfast afterwards with Rick who’s a professor of philosophy – great chat about ecology rather than environment and much more that I can’t possibly discuss in this public forum should I try and include some images? Davis is so lovely and they’ve got their very own ‘Occupy’ going on near the farmers market..”
16 November at 18:35
“Almost 50 young students at the Lishi session at UC Davis this morning 8-10am. Included two teaching assistants; Matt and Sabrina and 5 young people who have progressed from last year. It’s a large group made up of students from all over the university who have elected to take the unit as credits towards their undergraduate degree. They really enjoyed trying to uproot each other’s feet yet not be uprooted themselves; learning how to use softness to overcome strength, that being in conflict isn’t the best solution and problem solving to find other strategies. I loved working with Eric, the captain of the UC Davis rowing team – we’re talking strong here.. he loved trying to figure out why he wasn’t in control of his own feet ”
Thursday at 22:49
“Another early 7-8.30am class at UCDavis today. Some very talented people who’ve studied lots of Hapkido, Fencing, Qigong and Tuber,yes the big brass instrument Well it was a sweaty Yin Plus class, very active perhaps life changing for some. Hands, feet, grips, 3* and ‘wait wait wait’ – ‘Knowing what’s coming before it’s begun’.. this Lishi thing is more Matrix-like every time. It’s lovely seeing how the young women here are really keen loving it – empowering. 6 hour class tomorrow 8-3pm; anyone want to me to post some photos from that one? Hey this is just the warm up for Rick’s gang on Sunday..there’s still time to fly over from eurodizzyland!”
Friday at 23:52
“My maths got confused 8am-3pm is seven hours OMG! A new transient group every hour so only a few minutes beak each time. It’s over, I survived but only just. Must have been 60 – 80 of them over the day including people from the Davis community and Eyan who I met on the train – amazing. Quite a test. Every hour was different, the range of practice in Lishi is unbelievable. People couldn’t believe that everything we did was part of Lishi “where did you learn this” someone asked.. Tomorrow Sat I’m visiting a lovely Daoist teacher in Oakland also called Alex and on Sunday teaching Rick’s Hapkido students. What a roller coaster. Next Friday is the first of my qualifying exams; two academic papers to write in a 24 hour period..fingers crossed folks.”
Yesterday at 04:39
“It was lovely having several of the 70 or so students say thanks and also that they enjoyed the experience today of relating the Lishi exercises to things that meant a lot to them and that are going on in their lives. Also seeing other people go through a process of change during the hours they were there; for some perhaps arriving with initial scepticism or resistance, moving from conflict and frustration within themselves, to developing acceptance, respect, involvement and a willingness to learn – becoming softer and seeing a growth in self-esteem based on something tangible and real. A lot of laughter and release. A life changing day perhaps.”
20 hours ago
“left on my own to work with 40 – 50 students at a time, some of them martial artists, wrestlers, dancers, dragon-boat-rowers (strong!) the more competitively spirited games like ‘adhering hands’ really excited them. in this exchange physical contact is only allowed through the hands and arms, yet only the feet or contact with the earth are required to be still and ‘rooted’. the players have to ‘uproot’ each other’s feet through this moving arm contact. it’s like trying to get into the ‘keep’ of the castle, not just throwing stones at the walls. at first new students push and pull against each other, a trial of strength, or just move their arms about in a harmonic way, being ‘nice’ without any attempt to challenge. moving from one person to another, working with them as equals, letting them try to uproot me, feeling me give way to their pushes and pressure, yielding – explaining that there are always forces greater…so trying not to push back, ‘they have teachers, laws, police, armies on their side’ but to move away from pressure, changing the relationship, letting them uproot themselves; but it requires great skill aligned to theory, reflection, deep internal change over a long time, an ability to be able to influence events before others realise they have even began. being humble, not to push and initiate the action in an arrogant way, to give way to pressure yet circling the forces of ‘oppression’ back to their starting point yet from a different direction; to help, in a benevolent way, the oppressor realise that there are other more virtuous ways, ways that nourish and create rather than empty and destroy..”
Yesterday at 04:33
“Here’s what was happening on the UC Davis quad today while I was teaching.”
21 hours ago
“Visit to Oakland this morning to visit a qigong and five animal form class at a Daoist centre run by Dr Feng and his wife Charlene. Really lovely affect in a community hall full of the exotic. Some very special exercises and precise explanations along with hands on practice with Dr Feng which was very special, very familiar. It was just myself and four of his female students for the animal forms practice, amazing. Topped off with some delicious herbal tea and sweet potato pie, a great start to the day..”
9 hours ago
“9 – 10.30am this morning in Davis was a Harmony Arts class with Rick’s senior students, several of them now members of Lishi International – hot & sweaty out to the limit and back again. Then an open class 10.30-12noon Yin Arts – daoyin, leading and following, not resisting or getting trapped/locked up by yielding..lovely. Then I got treated to a yummy Vietnamese lunch with a round robin chat at the end with all the students reflecting on the morning saying the most amazing things. Things hotting up here in Davis following the riot police pepper spraying incident. Tomorrow pm there’s a big protest planned. I’ll be on campus tomorrow teaching Lishi’s approach to radical yet quiet self & social change.. shh!”
US campus pepper spray outcry
An American university says it is launching an investigation into the use of pepper spray by riot police trying to clear a demonstration.
17 hours ago
“This mornings undergrad class at Davis was a lot of fun. Two hours from 8am-10am. Fortunately there are 5 students who did Lishi last year so I could teach them sequences to show the other 50! Two main areas of focus today: ‘S’ factors – a different exercise for each then a range of scenarios also called two person routines – a lot of fun, excitement and no injuries! Great to have so many young people involved and getting very interested in California Lishi – it’s international ‘dude’. Class tonight for people from the Davis community – they don’t know what’s gonna come!
I’ve handed in my Practice as Research Portfolio – now I need to prepare for my first written exam on Friday. Nearly a year of notes to work through…”
6 hours ago
“Invited to teach Lynette’s Lishi International class in Davis tonight. Small and select group of very able students, lovely people. Heather passed her 7th ban yin and 8th ban yin+ assessment which was great, she’s very able. Spent some time on various yin movement forms and on being as light as possible, developing sensitivity and response. Can’t believe it’s only been a week that I’ve been here – feels like a month – in the nicest possible way of course..
Back at the University Club 7am tomorrow, must get a couple of photos one of these days – don’t believe the news, Davis is lovely and peaceful, well mostly…”
22nd November 2011 – 3 hours ago
“In 2006 I was in California with my teacher, Wendy and Hilary and we stopped at fuel at a place called Chinese Camp. The guys working there tried to sell us a plot on the stream where we would have the rights to any gold found there. We declined the invitation
This mornings class involved stick work and learning how to use the stick most effectively when performing the form, skills Chinese labourers used most effectively, without machines, in their labours working on the railroads and in moving rocks when digging for gold in the mid to late 1800s. Rick said to me after the class that the Chinese were so effective at finding gold that there is often never any left on a plot Chinese people had owned..
Lishi has started to take root here in the Davis community with several students on 7th ban. My teacher and I started coming here in 2001 after Lynette and Peter moved over. In the class this morning we emphasised how important the first few years of practice are in starting to develop roots and build a foundation for the future. It takes many years to embody a Lishi practice but those first years and our first teacher stay with us forever.”
23 November at 21:07
“A very useful morning following discussions with Profs. Rick & Lynette last week re paradoxes from ancient Chinese texts i.e. ‘being individual yet unique’ & ‘leaderless following’. In the 7 – 8.30 morning class here in Davis we moved through about eight games from Lishi that each involve playing with a particular paradox and starting to let it become embodied through practise. Takes at least one thousand goes huh! To ‘be’ involves a process of ‘becoming’. As human be-ings we were born made yet unmade.”
Yesterday at 01:18
“Last class with the UC Davis undergrad students this morning 8-10am; that huge group of 50+. Hey I got presented with a T-shirt from the Davis Racing Dragons, the dragon boat racing team – thanks guys.
They all wanted to work with equipment so after some qi work that reminded me of being pinned to a wall be Jamie Jones Buchanan we performed strokes, body moulding, footwork, swinging gates.. the list goes on. Great bunch, hope the elect to progress next year to become a ‘b’ student.. Last sessions on paradoxes with Profs. Rick and Lynette 7-8am – lovely to link Zhuangzi’s stories with embodied practice from Lishi – hey I might even get a mention in the published article, who knows?
Things are winding up here – my 3rd week!? Tomorrow morning 7am is my last community session.. attending a very niche symposium in the afternoon / evening, will let you know..”
Yesterday at 19:41
“The Davis community Lishi class was lovely this morning. Luckily I’d had my qimen (keemun) tea (www.lishitea.com) so was feeling perky given a 7am start. Assessments were scheduled for today so well done to those who passed including two new Lishi International members and two people achieving 6th Ban who I’m sure will go on to reach great heights!
Lishi has some signature movements that are key. I remember being in China with my teacher in 2003 and observing experts out there watching him demonstrate Lishi for the first time there and their jaws almost hitting the floor, ‘How can a westerner know this?’ they were asking each other. ‘Performativity’ is phrase I’ve learned to describe the historicised elements located in embodied performance. Lishi is in the here and now yet also draws on the past.
Looking forward to Saturday, a class with a Daoist in Oakland and then meeting another Daoist who owns a teahouse in San Francisco to sip tea together. Will check in again at the weekend. It doesn’t get much better..”
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