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steps to the Golden Summit.
If you watched the latest Karate Kid
remake (which was actually about Kungfu),
they filmed a few of the scenes on the
mountain. You may remember the kid, played
by Jaden Smith, walking up the mountain
with his master, played by Jackie Chan, or the
scene of him training on the summit.
The magnificent Taoist palaces, temples
and monasteries are a UNESCO World
Heritage Site, dating to the 7th century!
Many of the buildings were built in the
Ming Dynasty and are regarded as the
best of Chinese art a nd a rchitecture over a
1000 year period -- some were apparently
established by the legenda ry Zhang Sanfeng.
Mount Wuda ng has borne witness to
cultural achievements informed by Taoism
that have formed the fabric of this mighty
nation, exemplified by Zhang Sanfeng. By
legend an immortal, Sanfeng was a real or
fictional Taoist priest -- historical claims have
him living over 200 years and even beyond.
He is also described as being seven feet tall,
with the bones of a crane, the posture of a
pine tree, whiskers shaped like a spea r, and
the ability to travel over 300 miles per day.
Zhang Sanfeng is credited a s having
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originated Taoist internal martial a rts,
specifically Tai Chi Chuan, a s opposed
to the "external" style of the Shaolin
Buddhist martial arts tradition. As legend
has it, Zhang Sanfeng once watched a bird
attacking a snake on Mount Wuda ng. He
was so absorbed by its antics that his whole
world changed before his eyes. The snake
remained patient, still and watchful as
the bird attacked, waiting for its moment.
Finally, it lunged and killed the bird. He
was so inspired by the success of the snake's
defence, that he developed the 72 movement
set of Tai Chi.
Sanfeng's legendary status in China
shows no signs of dwindling, as he appears
in many cult films, including Jet Li's recent
masterpiece, Tai Chi Master.
The Tao is called the Great Mother:
empty yet ine xhaustible,
it gives birth to infinite worlds.
It is always present within you.
You can use it any way you want.
-- Lao Tzu
Following an inner calling
I came to China with the intention of
learning Tai Chi, as well as the more internal
alchemical principles of Chi Kung. I've ended
up sometimes feeling I'm on a wild goose
chase, yet it's mostly been both exhilarating
and rewarding. That said, it is difficult to
find good teachers who speak English, a nd
the schools are largely commercial operations
with the intention of making money.
My school, China Wudang Kungfu
Academy is at the foot of Mount Wuda ng.
The school is filled with fascinating people,
and definitely some of the most interesting
personal stories I've heard -- real people
breaking away from their lives to find
themselves. For some, it is the fulfilment
of a lifelong drea m, others were inspired by
kungfu movies a s kids, or just followed an
Noel, an intellectual from France, had
an epiphany one day after a sleepless night;
the soft ware business he'd spent years
developing was not all he was, not all he
wanted for his life. He gave it all up that very
day. Now he has embarked on a three year
sojourn in China studying w ushu.
A typical day involves a minimum of
four hours' training in Tai Chi and Chi
Kung with a Master or coach. There is
group training as well as private training.
All practice is performed in the school's
Taoist Temple, which is the ideal backdrop
for one's lea rning. The school is overseen by
Master Chen, an imperious kungfu talent
with an educational vision -- plans are afoot
to expand the school from its current 100
Continued Page 23
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