ShaoLin Center, Wisconsin’s premier school for traditional Chinese martial arts, Taoist healing practices and authentic southern lion dancing, will officially dedicate its new studio at 400 Travis Lane on Saturday, November 10th. Among the many activities planned will be a special “Dotting of the Eyes” ceremony to welcome two new lions into the school’s dance team. Dan Vrakas, Waukesha County Executive, and Paul Farrow, newly elected State Senator for the 33rd District, will be present as honored guests to help perform this traditional custom.
“We are thrilled that Mr. Vrakas and Mr. Farrow are able to join us for this celebration,” said SiFu Steve Kleppe, owner and head instructor of ShaoLin Center. “An integral part of any lion’s initiation is painting its eye before the first dance to awaken its spirit. These representatives will each be asked to dip a brush into red paint, fill in a specific area on the lion’s head, and then run the brush from the front to the back of the lion, signifying the birth of a new lion into the world.”
The festivities will be kicked off on Saturday at 11 a.m. with live martial arts demos, and the first of three lion dances that day. Following will be the Dotting of the Eyes, and a special dedication ceremony to bless the school. “In keeping with Chinese tradition, we will pay respect to our lineage, to our instructors, and to our community,” SiFu Kleppe explained. “Special gifts of wine, tea, flowers, fruit, incense and symbolic money are presented and placed upon our formal Sun Toi, which is a place of honor and significance within the school.”
ShaoLin Center’s Sun Toi is surrounded by a special structure: a life-size replica of the decorative gateway leading into a courtyard of the Forbidden City in China. Originally constructed as the entrance to the 2011 China exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum, the gate was ultimately purchased and donated to ShaoLin Center by one of its students.
The Community Open House is also a fundraiser for the Milwaukee Area Families with Children from China (MA-FCC), a non-profit organization that provides a support network with social, educational and cultural activities that promote understanding and appreciation of Chinese heritage. Saturday’s guests will be encouraged to donate $5 per person toward the MA-FCC, and in return be treated to a show by Chris Schmidt Acoustic, a local musical duo, from 3 to 5 p.m. that day.
On Sunday the 11th, ShaoLin Center will again open its doors to the public from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and offer free classes in yoga, qigong (internal energy exercise), tai chi chuan, and traditional kung fu. “This will be a total hands-on experience. We want visitors to feel welcome, and try something they perhaps have always dreamed about, like meditation or wielding a broadsword. The focus is definitely on fun and relaxation,” said SiFu Kleppe.
Beyond the suggested $5 donation to the MA-FCC, the event is free and open to the public.