Just got back from China. I traveled with a group (fewer than twenty) from all over the US plus four from London. Our leader was Jesse Tsao, wonderful Tai Chi master and teacher (taichihealthways.com). We saw some amazing sights on a three-day Yangtze River Cruise and four-day tour of Wudang Mountain.
Purple Heaven Palace, Wudangshan
The temples on the mountain were beautiful: Purple Heaven Palace (紫霄宫, Xǐ Xiāo Gōng), Tianyi Zhenqing Palace (天乙真庆宫tiān yǐ zhēn qìng gōng) and Dragon’s Head incense burner, and the Golden Summit. The summit in particular was breathtaking.
The view from the Golden Summit
There’s a school half-way up the mountain, next to the hotel where we stayed. We visited with the master, who told us (Jesse interpreting) about the history and philosophy of his school, and who kindly gave us each a signed copy of a little book. I can make neither heads nor tails of it, but I will surely treasure it. Must figure out what it is.
Yu Xu Palace Courtyard
Yu Xu Palace, which I have seen in so many videos, surprised me. It always looked to me as though it was set in a vast remote plain. There are no plains to be had in that part of China, however, and Yu Xu is in fact right in the middle of Wudangshan village (武当山, Wǔdāngshān). The interior of the Yu Xu Palace was closed for renovation, so we saw only the famous courtyard. Loved it.
I did some Chen on the mountain.
As far as tai chi is concerned, we had several amazing sessions with Jesse. Most fascinating to me was a comparison of the first sections of the four traditional long forms (Yang, Chen, Sun and Wu). I had never understood how closely the first part of the Yang 108 parallels the first part of Laojia.
On the last two mornings, we found a group at a park in Wuhan. Master Tan led us through the traditional Yang-style long form and 24; then we did a qigong routine that was new to me. She called it shí bā shì (十八式, 18-forms) Tai Chi Qigong (太极气功, Tàijí qìgōng). I found a video and a list of the names of the movements. Nice routine. Master Tan’s recording, like the track to the video, includes cues for breathing. 呼吸 hūxī is breathe; hū is exhale and xī is inhale.
Tai Chi and Qigong with Master Tan in Wuhan city park
18-form Tai Chi Qigong video and names of movements:
- 起势 Qǐ shì
- 开阔胸怀 kāikuò xiōng huái open the mind/heart
- 挥舞彩虹 Huīwǔ cǎihóng wave the rainbow
- 轮臂分云 Lún bì fēn yún circle the arms to divide the clouds
- 定步倒卷肱 Ding bù dào juǎn gong
- 湖心划船 Hú xīn huá chuán row on the lake
- 肩前托球 Jiān qián tuō qiú hold up the ball in front
- 转体望月 Zhuǎntī wàngyuè turn over the full moon
- 转腰推掌 Zhuǎn yāo tuī zhǎng turn waist push palm
- 马步云手 Mǎ bù yún shǒu horse stance cloud hands
- 捞海观天 Lāo hǎi guān tiān fish the ocean to see the sky
- 推波助浪 Tuī bō zhù làng push to make waves
- 飞鸽展翅 Fēigē zhǎn chì pigeon spreads his wings
- 伸臂冲拳 Shēn bì chōng quán stretch the arm to punch
- 大雁飞翔 Dàyàn fēixiáng wild goose soars
- 环转飞轮 Huán zhuǎi fēilún ring around the flywheel
- 踏步拍球 Tàbù pāi qiú step and slap
- 按掌平气 Àn zhǎng píng qì push palm for calm energy
We also did a Beijing-style silk-reeling Chen routine that blew me away, but I don’t have any idea how to find it on the Internet. Still looking for that one.