|Profile: Sifu Share K. Lew
Sifu Lew, as an orphaned boy living in Canton, was taken in by a wandering monk from the Wong Lung (Yellow Dragon) monastery, a Taoist temple famous for its kung fu and medical/healing/herbal knowledge.
Traveling on foot for months with this monk, the young Share K. Lew was brought to the monastery which would become his home on the top of the sacred Luo Fu Shan mountains, a special ecological niche where a variety of rare herbs and animals flourished. There were a total of five monasteries in the mountains, four Taoist and one Buddhist, Wah Sha Toi, where southern Dragon Style kung fu originated.
Wong Lung Kwan, at the top of the mountains, was built of massive stone, including a pavilion where people in need of healing could petition the monks of Wong Lung for help. Also unusual was a sister cloister, a convent where women learned and practiced their healing arts.
After an apprenticeship of several years of menial work, he was accepted, initiated, and taught a full range of Taoist skills, including exercises for health and longevity such as internal chi gung (which Sifu prefers to call by its older title, nui gung), kung fu, herbal medicine, Gee Liao (the ability to project ones chi), Tui Na massage, and his specialty: thorough and rapid healing of tendons, joints, muscles, and bones, as well as injuries caused by trauma. His monastery style, Tao Ahn Pai (Taoist Elixir Style) is traced in unbroken lineage back over 1,300 years to its founder, Lui Don Bin, one of the eight Taoist immortals.
|Sifu lived and studied at Wong Lung Kwan for 13 years. He left the monastery in 1948, shortly before the Communist revolution and moved to San Francisco, where he remained inside the Chinese community for several years and studied kung fu with his uncle Lew Ben, the 6th grandmaster of the Hung Sing style of Choy Li Fut.
In 1959, Sifu Lew accepted his first non-Chinese student, and in 1970, broke with tradition and became the first to openly teach the internal cultivation (chi gung) to non-Chinese. In that year, he and the late Khiegh Dhigh, a television actor and I Ching scholar, formed the Taoist Sanctuary in Los Angeles, the first Taoist religious organization founded in the United States to receive federal status as a church. During this time, he switched from teaching Choy Li Fut and began to teach Tao Ahn Pai kung fu which he had learned in the monastery.
In 1979, Sifu Lew moved to San Diego, seeing people for health appointments, teaching small or private classes, and traveling to teach students in workshops around the United States, in places like New York, Florida, Philadelphia, Esalen, Honolulu, San Francisco, Ojai, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Florida, Philadelphia, New York, as well as Tokyo, Japan and Tijuana, Mexico.
While in Wong Lung Kwan, Sifu Lew was eyewitness to many wonders of which he tells marvelous stories. In his residential trainings, such as at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, or Omega Institute in upstate New York, I have watched him enthrall his students with his tales. His voice never needs a microphone.
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