Catherine Cerbauskas (UK)

Catherine Cerbauskas
Length of Training: 1 Year, July 2007 - August 2008

Catherine Cerbauskas

It is not only an honour for me to have met Wei Shifu (Master Shi Yan Jai), but to have been taught by him is something which I cherish everyday.

Wei shifu is an amazing master with a wide range of knowledge in both fist and weapon forms. He is a perfectionist who expects only the best from his students and helps to push them to achieve this standard. If you have no or little experience in martial arts do not worry as Wei shifu has years of experience teaching people at different levels and is understanding to each individuals needs. If there is something which you wish to learn he will guide you in that area until he feels you are ready to reach your goal. As with anything, the more time and effort you put into something the better you will become and this is so true with Kung Fu. Dedication, patience and persistence are essential. You can see these elements everyday in the Shaolin Masters.

Before I went to study Kung Fu in China I had a year of training in Jeet Kune Do. I trained everyday at home so was quite prepared physically when I arrived. However you should prepare yourself for the effects that a change of diet will have on you, different climates and I found as time went on I became weaker and tired with injuries remaining. I kept training, but if you are training everyday for a long period I found it essential to remain calm in your mind and focused. Doing Qigong taught me a lot about my body and mind. Allowing me to focus my energy clearly. I had never done any form of meditation before and am glad that Wei Shifu emphasises this practise as part of the training. He is a good master and constantly reminds you that you need not only the physical knowledge of Shaolin Kung Fu but also the inner, core knowledge. After all, to me this is what makes the Shaolin Masters the amazing and inspirational people they are.

Your body will be pushed, pulled and stretched into positions you are not naturally use to. It will take time to see the effects and improvements in yourself, but Wei Shifu can see your achievements clearly daily and is always aware of how far he can push your body and mind. In the time I spent training with him my flexibility has increased more than I could have expected. I have a greater understanding of what my body and mind can achieve. I feel like I have gained a higher understanding of martial arts and how it is relevant in everyday life.

Living in Qufu was a lovely experience. The academy is only a short ride on the bus into the main town area. There are beautiful traditional buildings everywhere. All the locals are friendly and welcoming. Even when haggling they have a smile on their faces. There is amazing history surrounding this whole area and I highly recommend that you visit as much of it as you can. I was luckily enough to visit the Shaolin Temple where I met my master's brother Master Shi Yan Hui. Another great honour and cherished moment in my short stay in China. He like his brother is an amazing master and a lot can be learnt from him just in a smile.

The lifestyle at the academy is basic, as is the food but this is what I expected. As a master once said 'If you train hard you never notice the food on your plate or where your head lays'. And in a way I believe this is the best way to be. You are free to go into town and buy whatever goodies you would like, but I always tried to remain true to my training, getting up early for morning Tai Chi, training extra hours till bedtime and taking rest when needed. After all, why mess-up such an amazing opportunity? To be taught by Wei Shifu was such an honour that I felt it such a small task to train as hard as I possible could, not to complain over small matters and to make him aware that I appreciate his time and patience.

I am now luckily enough not to only be able to called him my master but also a friend.

Anyone who is lucky enough to be taught by him will cherish these moments for the rest of their lives.

As you can guess I miss training with Wei Shifu and hope to return to China as soon as possible ready to break a sweat... and another wrist!

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Experiences of the students

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