Sifu David Berman teaches Wu Mei Gongfu in the traditional manner: training is ongoing, with no sense of “semester”, and with new students entering the class at any time; all students, beginners through advanced players, study together, and instruction is given on an individual basis, depending on the needs of each student; there are no colored belts, no testing, no ranking, and students are encouraged to view their gongfu not as an accomplishment, but as an ongoing process that will continue to benefit them as long as they continue to train.
At the same time, Sifu Berman’s presentation of Wu Mei Pai is informed by his forty-plus years of experience teaching physical disciplines and his consequent understanding of human anatomy and kinesiology, which helps him to tailor training to the specific needs and limitations of each student, and by his continuing study and practice of Buddhism, which reminds him that the true purpose of teaching gongfu is helping people.
The mission of the school, therefore, is to preserve and pass on the traditions of Wu Mei Pai in a way that optimizes its positive contribution to its practitioners’ lives.
Those traditions include:
Standing Meditation (Jaahm jong) – to relax the body and mind, correct the posture, align the bones, sink the qi, find the root, open the energy gates, and cultivate awareness.
Horse Training (Gei bun mah) – to strengthen the legs, lay a firm foundation, and teach the fundamentals of movement.
Breath Work (Hei gung) (Qigong) – to gather, circulate, and cultivate the functions of the qi (breath energy).
Sinew Change (Yihk gan ging) (Yijinjing) – to condition the connective tissue as a medium for power, and to create a unified body.
Form Practice (Kyuhn touh) – the basic curriculum of fist and palm sets, in which the wisdom of Wu Mei is encrypted.
Crossing Hands (Gaau sau) – the two-person exercises, including sensitive-hand, circular hand, and push-hand, which teach the basics of dealing with an opponent.
Weapons (Haaih) – the full vocabulary of classical weapons, each of which has its own unique lessons to teach the body.
Theory – yin and yang (Yam yeuhng), the three treasures (Saam bou), five-element theory (Ng haahng), the eight trigrams (Baat gwa), and the basic Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist ideas that inform and connect all traditional Chinese art forms.
Wu Mei Gongfu is taught on the Upper West Side at Studio Maestro, 48 West 68th, between Columbus and Central Park West. The studios are clean, modern, mirrored, air-conditioned spaces with skylights and sprung dance floors, and have adjacent dressing rooms with showers for men and women. In good weather, daytime classes may be conducted in nearby Central Park, to take advantage of the additional space and natural environment.
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$140 monthly or $350 quarterly (every three months) entitles the student to as many classes as he or she can attend.
$75 monthly or $180 quarterly entitles a student to 1 (one) class per week.
A single introductory class is free. There are no other fees.
Memberships can be placed on hold, for weeks at a time, by prior arrangement.
Private lessons for non-members are $100/hour.