Capturing the essence and fundamentals of Chinese martial arts

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Master Zheng Wenlong in his new studio with one of the Ming Dynasty bricks that were used by his ancestors in martial arts training. (Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn)

Zheng Qing Gua is a martial arts studio that for decades barely stood in an inconspicuous basement of the Beijing West Gate Public Library. The particularity of the Zheng Qing school is that it does not limit its classes to Chinese martial arts only, but includes karate alongside classics such as tai chi, wushu, hsing yi and jeet kune do style. by Bruce Lee. The first time I visited Zheng Qing Guan, I had two impressions.

The first consisted of three photographs hung on the wall above a statue of protective warrior Guan Gong, who is a patron of martial arts. The first photograph was Huo Yuanjia, the great kung fu master who defeated one foreign boxer after another in tournaments held in Shanghai at the end of the Qing Dynasty and the beginning of the Republican period. The second photograph was Bruce Lee who, more than half a century later, brought kung fu to the West, across the big screen. The third photograph was Yip Man, the teacher of Bruce Lee, a legend in his own right. These three photographs struck a chord in my consciousness, as they represented the spirit of Chinese martial arts, spreading to the rest of the world.

The second thing that deeply impressed me was Master Zheng Wenlong who opened the martial arts studio 20 years ago, and has been the head teacher of several styles of martial arts during those years. But when I first met him, he wasn’t teaching a class, but was sitting on the floor in the back room of the studio, a room surrounded by every martial arts swords imaginable, with a elegant calligraphy on the wall, drinking tea and playing esoteric. of all Chinese instruments, the gu qin.

The essence of these impressions has never disappeared, for Chinese martial arts is not about fighting, but about cultivating a mind. Through the practice of martial arts, one can understand the way of tea, calligraphy and the essence of a musical instrument such as gu qin.

Zheng Qing Guan means School of Justice and Clarity, two words that capture the essence and fundamentals of Chinese martial arts. “In ancient times, the emperor had to have knowledge of fencing, calligraphy and all aspects of Chinese culture to lead,” said Master Zheng. “Some of the greatest challenges can be met without a fight if you understand martial arts. It’s not just about ‘martial’, it’s about ‘art’, the art of life and art of the mind. “

Zheng Qing Guan opened in 1999 to teach Korean taekwondo, which was rapidly gaining popularity in Beijing in the years leading up to the 2008 Olympics, mainly because it was an Olympic sport. However, in the years after the Olympics, taekwondo lost its appeal in Beijing, and over time Zheng Qing Guan evolved to embrace an array of Chinese martial arts, adding Okinawan karate. As one of the head instructors, Khloe Cui said, “Karate came from China, someday it has to go back to China.” Historically, the Shaolin defense system was brought to Okinawa by a Chinese ambassador in ancient times, when Okinawa was a kingdom in its own right.

All Zheng Qing Guan teachers are convinced that whatever the origin of martial arts, Shaolin remains the source of the spirit of martial arts. In addition, regardless of style, all martial arts are part of interconnected systems aimed at achieving skills of focus, focus and body control through the mind over matter, as well as a value system of respect, harmony and non-violence. The first movement in every form of martial arts is actually defensive. Self-defense is only a response to extremely threatening situations. Avoiding these situations is more important and part of martial arts training.

Establishing a private martial arts studio in Beijing was no easy task, fraught with its own challenges. “It was very difficult to find a business model where we could offer affordable martial arts lessons to a large number of students in China, while still being able to pay our instructors and maintain the overhead of our studio. Zheng said, reflecting back. over the years of building his school. “A normal businessman could have shut this thing down a long time ago. It was the constant encouragement of my close friends in martial arts circles, and our determination to find a way and a pricing system that would allow to the courses to flourish and enable us to promote Chinese martial arts.The spirit of encouragement was more precious than money.In many ways, it is the spirit of martial arts.

Master Zheng Wenlong personally teaches karate, hsing yi and tai chi, in addition to nearly a dozen instructors working in the now expanded Zheng Qing Guan. Zheng started his career as a wu shu enthusiast. His passion came from a family line of martial arts practitioners, unbroken since the Ming Dynasty. In a corner of Zheng Qing Guanare Ming’s practice room, carved bricks and stones with handles. These date back to the Ming Dynasty and have passed through his family, generation after generation, all of whom practiced martial arts. Stones and bricks were primarily intended for weightlifting, long before we had modern gyms.

Coming from his humble roots in the western part of Beijing, Zheng Qing Guanon opened two large modern studios on March 31, one in the northeast and the other in the south of Beijing in an upscale shopping center in Xuan Wu. Men. The sudden increase in the number of students is a testament to a renewed interest not only in traditional Chinese martial arts, but also in the fundamentals of Chinese culture which have taken their rightful place in the minds of people. Chinese today. These values ​​are also taking root in the West where martial arts studios are popular both in Europe and North America where classical values ​​have already eroded and people are looking for a replacement. As Zheng Wenlong said with a touch of fate in his voice, “I have dedicated myself to teaching martial arts to the next generation, not for the purpose of fighting, but for the purpose of cultivating the mind of no never accept defeat no matter what they do, or what goes on in life. “

The author and Zheng Wenlong at the opening ceremony of the new Zheng Qing Guan studio. (Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn)

Laurence Brahm is the founding director of the Himalayan Consensus and a senior international researcher at the Center for China and Globalization.




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