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Wudang tai chi continues to wow the world

BEIJING, Nov. 20, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- This is a report from China Daily:  

Kung fu sequences in the 2000 movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon wowed audiences around the world by opening a window on the exotic and mysterious Wudang martial arts, and more than two decades later, fans of those ancient skills rekindled their appreciation during the World Wudang Tai Chi Conference at the foot of Wudang Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Shiyan, Central China's Hubei province.

Held from Oct 22-25 and hosted by the Hubei Provincial Tourism Association, Hubei Culture & Tourism Group and the province's martial arts association, the event attracted more than 600 scholars and experts and over 1,500 athletes from 33 countries and regions to popularize traditional Chinese culture and promote cultural exchanges.

International competition

Concurrent with the event, the Wudang Tai Chi International Fellowship Competition ran from Oct 22-24 and was divided into five age groups: children, youth, young adults, middle-aged adults, and seniors. The tournament featured a range of competitive events, including individual performances, paired exercises and group demonstrations. 

The competition has so far been held seven times at the special economic zone focusing on tourism in Wudang. More than 1,500 athletes signed up this year, with 128 coming from 32 overseas countries and regions, including Italy, France and the United Kingdom, while 1,375 came from 27 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities across China. The youngest was 5-year-old Chen Xianyi from a kung fu club in Shiyan, while the oldest was Cheng Dongyuan, 73, from Wuhan, capital of Hubei province.

Other major events during the conference included a cultural market, a youth arts festival, health consultations by experts on traditional Chinese medicine, and a high-level forum on tai chi culture that attracted government officials, scholars, TCM experts, poets and translators to share their insights.

In the limelight

The Wudang Mountains are synonymous with Chinese martial arts, and the Wudang school of tai chi, as demonstrated in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, is believed to have been founded there by Zhang Sanfeng, a legendary Taoist, who created the internal martial arts by integrating Taoist philosophy and tai chi culture. The site is also famed as a shrine for Taoism followers and Taoist culture lovers.

As a treasure of traditional Chinese culture, Wudang tai chi is an important genre of Chinese martial arts and has a wide influence both domestically and internationally.

The birthplace of Wudang tai chi has spared no effort to promote the martial art, establishing related research groups and organizations to delve into historical records. As a result, more than 200 sets of Wudang internal martial arts routines, on the verge of extinction, have been retrieved and compiled.

Recent years have seen Wudang host more than 50 influential events, including seven sessions of the Wudang Tai Chi International Fellowship Competition and two global traditional martial arts festivals. Currently, more than 40 martial arts schools and practice centers are in operation in the Wudang Mountains area. The Wudang Martial Arts Association has 32 branches, including 13 established overseas that has a combined membership of nearly 11,000.

Statistics show 20,000 to 30,000 foreigners come to Wudang Mountains to learn martial arts each year. As an important part of cultural exchanges, Wudang martial arts have been presented in more than 30 countries and regions, including the United States, France, Sweden, South Korea and Russia.

The move has enabled Wudang tai chi to become a showcase of Chinese culture, local officials said.

Wudang Mountains boasts a wealth of ancient architecture. The well-preserved palaces and temples built during the Tang (618-907), Song (960-1279), Yuan (1271-1368), Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties helped the mountains win the status of a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in 1994.

Brand development

During his inspection tour in Shiyan in October, Hubei Governor Wang Zhonglin encouraged the Wudang area to integrate culture and tourism, continue burnishing the Wudang cultural brand and accelerate the construction of a world-class cultural tourism destination. Wudang has unique advantages in developing integrated cultural tourism, the governor noted. He called for an upgrade to the entire industry chain ranging from catering, accommodation and travel to tourism, shopping and entertainment, through improvements in tourism products, infrastructure, business patterns, services and brand building.

In 2006, Wudang's martial arts, Taoist temples and music, and Taoist medicine were added to China's national intangible cultural heritage lists. Today, Hubei province is promoting and strengthening the "Wudang Tai Chi" brand, striving to develop Wudang Mountains into a world-class tourist destination, a model area for inheriting and developing excellent traditional Chinese culture, and an experimental zone for green, low-carbon, high-quality development.

Organizers said the World Wudang Tai Chi Conference is an important event in boosting the creative transformation and innovative development of Wudang tai chi culture, as well as advancing construction of Wudang Mountains as a world-class cultural and tourist destination.

They added the event is designed to further enhance the promotion and popularization of tai chi, promote Chinese martial arts, facilitate the exchange of martial arts between China and foreign countries, expand Hubei's opening-up, and enhance friendly exchanges and cooperation between peoples of all countries, making greater contributions to the health, harmony and development of mankind.

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SOURCE China Daily

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