7 Stars & Chanquanshu go to China – Again!
For some of us, April the 4th 2003 couldn’t come quick enough! This was the date we left to go off to China. Joining with the rest of the party at different airports as we travelled, the group comprised of 22 individuals from Scotland, England, Switzerland and France. The whole operation was smoothly coordinated, as was the entire trip, by our organiser Maria Faulkner (Melita Tours). Arriving in Beijing was like coming back to a second home, which was the sentiments of Gordon Faulkner (President of the Scottish Daoyin Yangsheng Gong Association (DYYSGA), Maria Faulkner, and Bob Lowey (Vice President of the Scottish Daoyin Yangsheng Gong Association). Some had arrived the day earlier including Francois Henry who has his own School in France and an old friend of Bob’s. Gordon Maria, Bob, Francois, and Peter Ooosterveer combined to form the main Instructors of the group, with Mark Atkinson (President DYYSGA, England) joining us for our training sessions while in Beijing. Another familiar friend met us and was to join us for the whole trip acting as interpreter and guide, Madam Zhou Jin.Originally from Shanghai, Zhou Jin has travelled extensively living in Hong Kong where she studied, Germany and eventually settled in Beijing working in the Sports University’s Library from 1983 – 88, which complimented her interests of literature, Music and Philosophy. With a command of Mandarin, Cantonese, German and English languages, Jin began studying Daoyin Yangsheng Gong with Professor Zhang Guangde that led to further travels to France and Austria.As Associate Professor trained in T.C.M. and Daoyin Yangsheng Gong, Jin has succeeded in her post as International Programme Coordinator for Beijing University of Sports Education, interpreter to the Professor and a very dear friend of ours. From the moment of our arrival, the clock started ticking and like all good things, passed too quickly. Six days of wonderful Chinese cuisine, fantastic sight seeing tours and ultimately, training with our Teacher, Professor Zhang Guangde. The Professor was in great spirits during our time spent with him.We trained every morning with the Professor from Sunday until Friday learning the 3rd of the Taiji Zhang’s (Palm Forms), that is not only beautiful to practice, but as with all Daoyin Forms, subtly nourishes every organism in your body as well as concealing martial intent. The group was in general agreement, even those who were experiencing the Professor’s teachings for the first time, that he was highly proficient and instructed in an easily understanding manner, even if you had no idea of mandarin!Sight seeing during this first week included: The Great Wall, The Summer Palace, Drum and Clock Tower, Yonghe (Lama) Temple, The Forbidden City, White Cloud Temple, lectures at the Yanhuang Meridian Research Institute, and an acrobatic show to “chill out”.
Having did most of the sight seeing trips time and time before, Gordon, Maria, Lynn and Bob managed to take time out to visit other distinguished establishments of Beijing – KFC and the Coffee Shop at the Novatel Hotel!Prior to our leave of Beijing onto the second leg of our China training trip, we were honoured by a lavish meal by our hosts: Vice-President of Beijing University of Sports Education, Tian Yi and Professor Zhang Guangde. Our guests to presented a magnificent crystal globe to Gordon in recognition of the collaboration between the University and Chanquanshu. The banquet included our Daoyin colleagues who travelled from Mexico and joined us for the week, and who trained with Master Wang. Greetings Marriana and Antonio!The 11th of April saw us boarding a “sleeper” train to Wudang Shan in a state of enthusiasm! Strangely, auspicious signs were manifest within the first hour of departure. Namely: the coach number was 7, our compartment bed numbers were 7, 8, 9, and 10, which combine to total 7, and, the number of bags in our compartment also added to 7 – such is the 7 Stars (Qixing) !Reminiscent of Sunday school outings, perhaps with a dash of alcoholic delinquents, many of the group were rather excited and turned to inebriation as a sedative to help them sleep on the rather long 22-hour journey to Wudang. The Chinese security guards and train conductors were exceedingly polite in the way they requested our party be removed from the train’s corridor to allow them to sleep! On arrival at Wudang train station, we were huddled into our awaiting coach that sped us up the mountain (understatement) to our hotel – Tian Lu. This hotel is nestled into the mountainside along with its neighbouring building, the Wudang School of Wushu and Taoist Arts, one of the five Martial Arts Schools in Wudang. From the town of Shiyan, a short drive leads to Xuanye Gate – the opening to Wudang Mountain. Wudang Mountain is in the North West of Hubei and is also known as Taihe and Xianshi. To the North runs the Hanshui River and the South, the Yangtze. With a height of some 1,612 Metres above sea level, 72 Peaks, 36 Main Temples and 72 smaller temples, the scenery around this area is quite breath taking and the sweet mountain air vitalising.
The topmost Temple, The Golden Palace Temple situated on Tianzhu or Heavenly Pillar looks down to “The Cliff for Ascending to Heaven”. This has a little platform positioned on it that has since become famous from the last scene in “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” where the wee wifey throws herself to her death. Like all other Temples on Wudang Shan, statues of Emperor Zhenwu occupies prime place next to the Jade Emperor of course. However, here in Nanyan Hall, the magnificent Dragonhead Incense Burner, the White Tiger God and Black Dragon God statues also reside with an ominous presence.