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Duan Wu Jie - Dragon Boat Festival

This festival is celebrated by many Southern Mantis Practitioners every year in Boston, NYC, Philadelphia and San Francisco, but especially in Hong Kong and China.  (Contact me for info if you would like to join Southern Mantis during this festival - RDH)
The Dragon Boat Festival, also called Double Fifth Festival, is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month (usually June).  It is considered the third most important of Chinese festivals, the other two being the Autumn Moon Festival and Chinese New Year. Dragon Boat Racing is International! 
The origin of this summer festival centers around a scholarly government official named Chu Yuan*. 
He was a good and respected man, but because of the misdeeds of jealous rivals he eventually fell into disfavor in the emperors court.
Unable to regain the respect of the emperor, in his sorrow Chu Yuan, grasping a big rock, threw himself into the Mi Luo river.  Because of their admiration for Chu Yuan, the local people rushed into their boats to search for him, all the while, throwing rice into the river to appease the river dragons. 
Unable to find him, the local people returned every year to feed his ghost by throwing rice into the river on the fifth day of the fifth month.  But one year, the spirit of Chu appeared and told the mourners that a huge reptile in the river had stolen the rice.  His spirit then advised them to wrap the rice in silk and bind it with five different-colored threads before tossing it into the river.
Zong Zi
Some 2000 years later, that wrapped rice is known as Zong Zi.  This tasty dish consists of rice dumplings with meat, peanut, egg yolk, or other fillings wrapped in bamboo leaves.  Food for Dragon Appeasement! The tradition of Zong Zi is meant to remind us of the village fishermen scattering wrapped rice across the water of the Mi Luo river in order to appease the river dragons.  It is a must to eat during the Dragon Boat festival but has become so popular it can be had year around. 

Dragon Boat race

Traditions at the center of this festival are the dragon boat races.  Competing teams drive their colorful dragon boats forward to the rhythm of beating drums.  These exciting races were inspired by the villagers valiant attempts to rescue Chu Yuan from the Mi Luo river.  This tradition has remained unbroken for centuries. 

Today, the IDBF (International Dragon Boat Federation) is the recognised World Governing Body of Dragon Boat Sport and is part of the Olympic Movement. 

The biggest dragon boat festival racing events outside of Asia are in Europe, particularly in Malmö, Sweden and in North America, in the USA and Canada. San Francisco, Ottawa, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal each host races featuring more than 180 25-person crews. These races take place over two days in mid-to-late June in correspondence with the 5th Day of the 5th Month custom.

Areas where the sport is growing steadily include Australia, where the Chinese New Year Championship in Darling Harbour, Sydney, attracts about 60 22-person crews annually, with an upward trend in participation.  This Championship is the largest dragon boat event in the Southern Hemisphere.

Ay Taso

The time of year of the Dragon Boat Festival, the fifth lunar moon, has more significance than just the story of Chu Yuan.  Many Chinese consider this time of year an especially dangerous time when extra efforts must be made to protect their family from illness. Families will hang various herbs, called Ay Tsao, on their door for protection.  The drinking of a special wine is thought to remove poisons from the body.  Hsiang Bao are also worn.  These sachets contain various fragrant medicinal herbs thought to protect the wearer from illness.
Qu Yuan - Ancient Poet and Martyr!
*Chu Yuan

Chu Yuan (340-278 BC) was the first great patriotic poet in the history of Chinese literature.  He composed 25 poems including Sorrow After Departure, The Nine Songs (11 pieces), Asking Heaven, The Nine Elegies (9 pieces), The Far-off Journey Divination, and The Fisherman.

Sorrow after Departure is Chu Yuan's classic work, which is also the earliest long lyrical poem in China.  The poem resolutely uncloaks the repulsiveness of the ruling class by deploying a series of metaphors and at the same time portrays some upstanding heroes who adhere to justice, are not afraid of persecution and are very devoted to their country and people.

These are attributes that Southern Mantis Practicers should cultivate as well!


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Rooting Power

Centering is the Development of a strong stable rooted horse.

Power from the feet - one thousand pounds force

Spring Power

This produces a live springy power (action-reaction force in a sticky way). It is produced by the whole body in spiraling motions, as a spring is twisted and then released. It is the function of the hand and foot arriving at the target intently at the same time. There is a saying, "any deficiency of power in the hand, can be found in the root and center."

The hand moves, the arm rotates and the weight is transferred from the ground up the heels matching the ankles, knees and hips.

When rooting, spring and spiral becomes skillful, one feels as if he is anchored fully to the earth.

Spring and Spiral

Centering is the Development of a strong stable rooted horse.

Power will spiral from the ground up the legs and out to the fingers.

Copyright © 2010, Roger D. Hagood.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.