Lishi or Daojiao Lishi Quanfa, to give it it's full Chinese name, is an ancient system of arts for personal development, health and wellbeing. It originated in northern China thousands of years ago. As a Daoist art, the primary focus in Lishi is to increase and learn to use the natural energies of the body, known as Qi.
When you first begin Lishi there’s a lot to learn about how to train yourself. This is called self-cultivation or monism. Eventually you will learn how to practice Lishi with a partner for mutual benefit known as mono-dualism.
Exponents of Lishi also learn how to harmonise between Yin and Yang; internal and external. Thus in Lishi we have the Yin Arts, the Yang Arts and the Yin / Yang Arts. These arts compliment one another and teach students how to develop a dynamic equilibrium or peacefulness within themselves, with others and in their lives. The physical exercises and breathing that you will practice in class become a bridge inwards that will help you develop more internally including your body, mind and spirit. You will learn that things are never completely Yin or Yang but have the potential to transform from one to the other and that each contains the seeds of the other. Practicing Lishi over time will harmonise these two forces so that we never become too Yin or too Yang and ultimately learn to flow smoothly around any problem.
Indeed it is this ability to find the flow or inter-play that will lead you through Lishi towards Naturalness. You will learn how not to become too volatile through experiencing too many ups and downs but rather to slow down, smooth out and become more sustaining. If you consider the cycles of nature and how things happen without appearing to happen you’ll get a feeling for this. Lishi is a ‘doing art’ first and foremost and it is practice, repetition and letting-go that will develop the consciousness required to develop Naturalness. Any cycle or wave has an energy and through developing your energy and consciousness you will find it easier to connect to the energy of other people, nature and eventually to better connect with the Supreme Spirit or Dao.
Lishi means Li (or Lee) family system and can be traced back to Ho-Hsieh Lee who was the earliest known practitioner of this system. He lived
around 1000 BC near Beijing in China where he and his family were practicing Daoists. When he was 54, he and his family resettled in Weihei, which was then known as Wei Hai Wei, a fishing village in the Shandong Provence. The arts remained in Shandong until 1933, surviving as a family system by being passed from parent to child and evolving and
growing over the years. They were eventually given to Chan Kam Lee, the last person in the Lee family to receive the arts. Kam Lee was unmarried and had no children. He often lived in London where he started a class in Red Lion Square in Holborn in 1933.
A year later, Chan Kam Lee met Chee Soo in Hyde Park in London when Chee Soo apologised for accidentally hitting Chan Kam Lee in the back with his ball. They became friends and Chee Soo was invited to join his class.
In the winter of 1953/4 Chan Kam Lee died on a ship that went down near Canton in China and Chee Soo later took over as head of the family. Before Chee Soo died in 1994, he passed the arts on to Desmond Murray who we call ‘Laoba’, a title that means 'old (wise) man’. Our main
teacher in London is Dr Alex Boyd who has been a student of Desmond Murray since 1984 and has travelled to London to re-establish Lishi here and teach each week for the last 20 years!