Wudang in Washington

A little belated, but here’s the round-up on this nifty event that happened in DC the weekend of February 1st.

First, Thursday the 31st we performed at the Chinese Embassy’s Chinese New Year party hosted by the Meridian Center in D.C. My brothers Ben and Dave and I and many other martial artists with connections to Wudang backed up our kungfu uncle Zhou Xuan Yun (remember how kungfu relationships work? He is my master’s kungfu brother) in the exhibition. We did two performances over the course of the evening, each of us demonstrating a particular form or technique, taking turns. The guests at the party seemed to enjoy it, and we had very flattering responses from those of the audience we were able to talk to. The other cultural exhibition at the party was a fashion show of Chinese silks. One thing I particularly appreciated was the wonderful professional musicians that accompanied our performance. They were so intuitive and attuned to our actions — a far cry from an mp3 as an accompaniment.

The next day Ben and I went to the Library of Congress to hear our uncle Zhou Xuan Yun give a talk on Daoism and Wudang. I don’t know how I can encapsulate this part of things. His talk was wonderfully informative and insightful, focusing on Daoist history and culture. Julianne Zhou¬† did a wonderful job translating and contextualizing his lecture. Check out Zhou Xuan Yun’s website http://daoistgate.com.

And the next day Ben got on a plane and I went to the workshop held in Rockville to demonstrate again and give a little talk. My theme was the role of traditional martial arts in the modern world. I talked about the martial arts as a war-time skill displaced in an increasingly peaceful world where what violence exists is carried out using technology and skills not found in traditional martial arts. I argue that the traditional martial arts are more relevant than ever in our modern world, where while physical attacks grow increasingly rare, we find ourselves under constant siege from media, stress, and our own life styles. It represents the further development of some of the ideas I have written in this blog.

In the free moments between these events, we talked a lot about the future of me and my classmates, the men and women who will finish our training in two more years and come back to the west. It is a difficult topic to come to a definite conclusion on so far in advance, but we focused on how we might preserve and continue the spirit, practices, and values that we are learning in Wudang for our own students.

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