Opening of the Tai Chi Center in Yong Nian, China

Excerpted from Diary from China -- Monday, August 1, 2005:
The ceremony today was very interesting-- it started with about 40-50 kids of all ages in beautiful white silk outfits doing Tai Chi in 3 long rows in the street in front of the building, then inside dozens of people with various degrees of expertise did demonstrations, many of them dramatic (my favorite is a form of Tai Chi that has them scooting along the floor very poised and powerful). Master Sun said the people are all local, as were the first 4 generations of Tai Chi teachers over the last 150 years. So Stephan and I may have witnessed (and been involved in!) a dramatic historic event, as Chinese Tai Chi is revived in the original historic village ("sacred place" as they describe it) where Tai Chi was born and is once again flourishing. I got pictures of very young children standing on the window sills with their parents nearby, applauding the events future generations of Tai Chi teachers, perhaps.

Early the morning of the opening, the students demonstrated their tai chi outside the new center.

The students filed into the center and sat on the floor, then red confetti was thrown out of little cannons, and the speeches began.

Stephan gave the speech he had prepared.

When the speeches were done, the students filed back outside, clearing the space for the demonstrations.

There were many demonstrations of different kinds of tai chi while the cameras rolled, and everyone applauded, including the children sitting in the window.

My favorite was watching tai chi done while squatting low to the ground. It looked extremely difficult, and very elegant.

Master Sun (right, below) demonstrated tai chi.

The next day, a group of visitors got off a bus and visited the center. They got a lecture from a bullhorn, and observed the lessons that were being given -- including ours! In the first photo you can see the stage behind the speaker with the bullhorn, the second photo was taken from the stage, where I unexpectedly found myself participating in a demonstration lesson (click here to see the rest of story).

Master Sun and his disciple demonstrated some of the feats we had seen at the opening ceremony the day before. Master Sun stood with his arms folded while his disciple tried to get a grip and attack, and suddenly the disciple would go flying while it seemed that Master Sun had hardly moved. The disciple said he was trying his hardest to overpower Master Sun.

Later that day, we were asked to sign the banner that announced the opening (to the left in the photo). I was touched when Master Sun, his disciple, another instructor, and Stephan had a long discussion about how I should write my name in Chinese. They finally decided I would use the characters that sound like "dona" and mean something like "she who picks up flowers." I thought it was appropriate, since I had earlier picked up a banner whose pole had fallen into the mud outside of our hotel, and I put it safely inside.

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