At the Daoist Gate Center, there are often Chinese medicine doctors and qigong teachers who come to study with me, and they also help heal people for free. Tatiana B. is one of them. During the Spring of 2021, when the second wave of the pandemic was starting to wane, Tatiana was the fourth student who joined our three-month intensive. She is someone Leah T., our youngest student at the center, often good-naturedly called a “witch” because she would use herbs to treat illnesses, and there were many small bottles and cans in her room filled with liquids. If someone were uncomfortable, she would heal them for free. At the same time, Tatiana was also studying qigong healing. When Leah was not feeling well, she would always receive Tatiana’s efficacious aid, so Leah would jokingly call her the “witch.”

Tatiana is a student from the first Zoom Neidan class I taught. She enjoyed that class, and when I began teaching XingyiQuan online, she also signed up for it. When she learned about my three-month teacher training course, she also wanted to join it. At the time, she still had a few things she had to wrap up with her business in Florida, so in the first month, she only could come for one week. On the day after she arrived, heavy snow fell, and she was very happy. She took her shoes off and strolled on the snow-covered ground. She told me this was the first time in ten years that she had seen snow and that walking on the snow could be good for the body. Everyone else laughed and said she was crazy. Everyone has their own stories about her.

Tatiana is obsessed with Daoist culture. After she came here, I heard her say that she studied Daoist qigong healing and ritual magic with many different teachers. I would often see her using Daoist ritual finger gestures to draw talismans in the air. If someone who did not know her saw this, they might question her sanity.

The Daoist Gate Center is a place of study, but some people have different motives for coming, thinking they can take a vacation here while also learning. Some people are dissatisfied with their own lives and come here to try a different lifestyle. The personalities of everyone who comes to the Daoist Gate Center are also different, and some cannot understand the way other students do things. Many other cultural centers that have religious aspects encounter this problem frequently. Fortunately, in the end, everyone can reflect on the problems with how they do things.

In her training at the Daoist Gate Center, she was probably the student I ended up scolding the most. In the beginning, I would teach her movements in the morning, and by the afternoon, she would have forgotten them. This is a pretty common situation, and many of the students I have taught have been like this. Every person’s understanding in their brains and bodies of these movements is different. Many people understand them in their heads, but their bodies remember them poorly. In these situations, one needs to practice more. Every time Tatiana finished studying, she would say her practice time was not long enough, so to ensure that she was not wasting her time studying at the center and that she could learn enough to accomplish something, I had no choice but to scold her. On the other hand, I was proud that she practiced all of her movements well after one month.

Tatiana, second from right, front row.

Tatiana is a student who is not too good at cooking, but every time someone else was cooking, she would help them. I would joke with her that after this, students who came here to study would have to cook before leaving the center. She was able to cook a couple of Chinese dishes on her own.

After dealing with some business in Florida, she drove up and brought her paddleboard with her when she returned to the center. Then, she would take a few classmates down to the lake to relax or to the city to eat and shop in their free time. For the whole summer, I had the feeling that she was here on vacation, but she could train and have fun at the same time.

Fortunately, her studies were also successful, and in the last few months, I would often see her practicing by herself in the training room. Sometimes during break periods, she would also go and practice by herself. When she was here, she studied the 108 and 13 posture Taiji, Taiji sword, BaGua Zhang, solidified her Xingyiquan, and studied the Kung fu form Fuhuquan.

In Tatiana’s last month at the Daoist Gate Center, I would have her lead a few new students in Taiji, training her to be a Taiji teacher when we had classes. Because winter was approaching, the Daoist Gate Center closed, and she went back to Florida. She continued her teacher training and began teaching classes online in Spanish. She is the first Spanish language teacher Daoist Gate Center has trained.

I hope that there will be teachers speaking many different languages at different times teaching online courses through the Daoist Gate Center in the future.

Author:   Daoist Master Xuan Yun Zhou

Translator: Larson Di Fiori