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A Hotbed of Tai Chi
Text by Liu Haile Photographs by Li Mingfang

 

A tai chi fan dance performance.

Jingdezhen is often spoken in the same breath as ceramics. The millennium-old city in southwestern China’s Jiangxi Province has long been known as the “capital of porcelain.” However, fewer people are aware that martial arts - especially tai chi (shadow boxing), a Chinese traditional cultural icon on par with porcelain - have also flourished in the ancient town for centuries.

On September 29, 2013, as part of the first Jingdezhen Martial Arts and Cultural Travel Festival, a large-scale joint performance combining tai chi with other martial arts was staged at Jingdezhen University.

“Lying like a fully-drawn bow, standing straight like a pine tree, sitting still like a bronze bell, and walking fast like a gale...” On the opening day of the festival, over 100 tai chi amateurs from eight troupes staged a tai chi fan dance to the song “Chinese Kung Fu” to kick off the celebration. Following it, performances featuring broadswords, tai chi boxing, tai chi swords, nunchakus, and Chinese qigong (a system of deep breathing exercises) all aroused thunderous applause.

The joint show involved nearly 1,000 performers, ranging from only five years old up to 80. All are registered members of Jingdezhen Martial Arts Association and Jingdezhen Tai Chi Association. Local residents have long preserved fondness for martial arts. Particularly, tai chi has thrived as one of the city’s most popular sports for decades. An official with the city’s Tai Chi Association explained that this year’s Martial Arts and Cultural Travel Festival was themed “Pursuing the Dream of Tai Chi and Enhancing Health with Martial Arts.” Originating in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), tai chi has become an iconic symbol of traditional Chinese culture by incorporating a variety of boxing styles with Taoist philosophy. Due to its cultural connotations and healthy benefits, it has drawn increasing numbers of practitioners. So far, the association has registered nearly 2,000 members.

 

 

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