18 TEMPLE MOTIONS
It was my pleasure to be able to share a bit of kung fu with Master McNeill’s class on Monday. I am always humbled by the time Master McNeill always manages to make for me and I am in awe of just how lucky some of you are to have such easy access to a man such as him. You guys are very lucky.
The form I taught is a basic six harmony form called the 18 Temple Motions. When I say the six harmonies, I am talking about the hands harmonizing with the feet, the elbows with the knees, the shoulders with the hips, spirit with intent, intent with chi, and chi with strength. What we worked on specifically on Monday was harmonizing our intent with our chi.
Attached is a video of the entire 18 Temple Motions. I had one of my black belts, Melanie Beckett perform the form for you. I felt it would be the most insightful version of the form because of Melanie’s particular circumstances.
Melanie received her black belt from me in February 2015 after returning from training full-time at the Wudang Temple in China for the previous five years. Some of you may have met Melanie in Alabama in April of 2015 as part of Tom Callos’s UBBT Project. A few weeks after returning from Alabama, Melanie began suffering from flu-like symptoms. Her condition continued to deteriorate until she ultimately ended up in intensive care, fully paralyzed, requiring a ventilator to breathe for her, totally helpless and in searing pain. Melanie had developed Guillain-Barre syndrome. Decades of training had been wiped out in a matter of days.
Melanie’s recovery has been slow. She spent the entire month of July 2015 totally paralyzed but returned to classes in September in a wheelchair. She worked hard to regain the use of her limbs and began walking with a walker by October. By February 2016, she was able to perform a form at our Chinese New Year banquet. Two years later Melanie still has a long way to go but as you will see in the video, she is progressing.
There is a reason for the back story. Melanie and I have been able to recognize a serendipitous opportunity that has presented itself because of her unique situation. We have a very advanced martial artist who was at the pinnacle of her training after just completing five years of full time intensive training in China, having to reboot her body from scratch. Her mind had all the knowledge and memories of her vocabulary of motion while her body was a complete empty slate. Melanie is applying her knowledge and understanding of the six harmonies to the rebuilding of her body from the ground up. While she works to regain proper coordination and strength in her body, we can see the micro-nuances that go into specific techniques and applications. I have learned more about the six harmonies in the past two years while Melanie recovers than I had learned in my previous 30+ years of training.
I am not sure if there has ever been another opportunity like this in the martial arts and I wanted to share this with all of you, especially Master McNeill.