Day 4 Wudang Shan

Table of contents for Eric Lee China Tour 2009

  1. Day 1 Chicago
  2. Day 2 Beijing
  3. Day 3 Wudang Shan
  4. Day 4 Wudang Shan
  5. Day 5 Wudang Shan
  6. Day 6 Wudang Shan

Today was a fantastic day! I woke up at 6am feeling refreshed after getting to sleep in a normal sized bed.  I practiced Ba Daun Jin and Yang Sheng Gong Qigong sets before getting ready for the day and heading down to breakfast.  The hotel provided a very hearty breakfast that was very satisfying and tasted great.  The simple food of the local people was some of the best we have had so far.

Tain Lu Hotel CourtyardAfter breakfast we met in the hotel courtyard to begin our training.  Everyone was very excited to get started.  My students and I began stretching and warming up while we waited for the master to arrive.  Several of the girls who served us breakfast watched us from the restaurant window above giggling at the foreigners playing kung fu.  We have the honor of learning from Daoist Master Zhang Jia Li who lives nearby in Tai Zi Po temple.  He was the epitome of the Daoist Master.  He wore the traditional robes and had his hair in a top knot with a goatee.  His face had a healthy ruddy complexion to it and his face always carried a ready smile.  He likes to joke and laugh and is very relaxed all the time.  Michael Petter commented that he looks like he stepped right out of an old Chinese painting.

Zhang Shifu began teaching us Wudang Tai Ji Quan.  The form is very interesting and I enjoy it a lot so far and am pleased with the groups progress overall.  My students performed very well, learning quickly and I am proud of them.  Our translator left relatively early in our morning practice so Zhang Shifu began to rely on me for communicating often asking me to lead the group in repetitions of practice.  Between his broken English and my limited Chinese we were able to communicate pretty well. Zhang Shifu also really enjoys application and it was not long before he singled out my students and I for the purpose of demonstrating the martial applications to the techniques he was teaching us.  He would demonstrate on me and put me in an awkward position or hit me and then smile and say “Sorry sorry!” with a smile on his face.  I would reply, “Mei guan xi.” (méi guān xì 沒關繫) “Don’t worry about it.” or “Wo xihuan le.” (wÇ’ xǐ huan le 我喜歡了) “I like it.”  We trained for a couple of hours in the gorgeous weather before it was time to finish our training for the day and go to our first temple on Wudang Shan.

Golden PalaceWe took the bus for a ways up to visit the Golden Palace (JÄ«n Dǐng 金頂) which is placed atop the highest point in the Wudang Mountains.  The palace was constructed during the Ming Dynasty and was made of bronze and then plated in gold.  The pieces were fit together so precisely that there were no crevices in the gold paneling.  According to the Chinese the temple was constructed in Beijing and then carried to Wudang Shan. The building as endured the weather and the ages well and governs over a magnificent view of the surrounding mountains that undulate off into the distance.  We arrived and ate at a local restaurant and then made our way up to the cable cars.  The cable cars are some of the steepest I have ever seen and the ride takes a while but the scenery is more than enough to occupy you during the trip.  I am grateful to have taken the cable car so we would have more time to look around the temple grounds.  If we had not we could have taken the stairs which generally take approximately 3 hours to reach the temple.  The temple is impressive to say the least.  The vistas are amazing and the structure twists and winds as it clings to the slope of the mountain.  You can feel the age in every stone as you walk up the winding stairs to the top.  Some of the walls are comprised of chipped slabs of stone leaned in alternating directions that are simply amazing.  They travel long distances or tower above you with no mortar to hold them together just the pressure of the stones leaning against one another.  Just thinking of the workers building the temple structures at all is amazing due to the steepness of the peak.

We made our way back down to the cable cars and rode back to the landing.  It is interesting because the cable cars seat two people and they never stop moving.  Two people open the doors as the car swings around the corner and then assist you as you leap into or out of the cable car. We got back onto our bus and rode to the Purple Cloud Temple (紫霄宮 zǐ xiāo gōng) which is one of the most famous temples on Wudang Mountain.  This temple is a Daoist Nunnery where only women can live.  We arrived and entered the gate.  The stairs in front of us were like something out of a movie with mist obscuring the top of the stairs.  We climbed the stairs and discovered that they were filming some sort of movie, though I am not sure what.  We were lucky to be arriving in the early evening during the time of the evening Daoist services.  We got to observe some of the evening services which consisted of chanting the Daoist scriptures and accompanying music from traditional Chinese instruments.

Purple Cloud TempleZhang Shifu met us at Purple Cloud Temple and we prepared to train more Tai ji.  I needed to change into the training clothes I had brought with me but did not know where to go.  An old woman who had a small shop inside the temple offered to let me change in her shop.  She stepped outside and closed part of one door and gave me a small stool.  She was very nice, but when I was finished changing, she asked if I would buy something.  I thanked her but told her I had to hurry and could not keep my Master waiting.  We began working on the next movements in the form in one of the courtyards in the temple which was a great feeling.  Being able to train in such an old temple on the flagstones is amazing.  We gathered quite a crowd of Chinese tourists who began watching with interest as the foreigners played Tai Ji with a great Daoist Master.  After some time as the sun began to set into the mountains, Zhang Shifu had us sit and began to teach us some meditation.  We started with some simple meditation known as Da Zuo (Dà Zuò 大坐) or Great Sitting.  I had just started to settle into the meditation when the filming crew came back through to film in our area and asked us to move.  We relocated to the other side of the courtyard and began our meditation again. The meditation was simple but powerful and I found it very easy to settle in to. Before long Zhang Shifu asked us to stop. I had trouble bringing myself back up out of the meditation and was reluctant to stop. Zhang Shifu then went over the Microcosmic Orbit meditation. This meditation was one that I was familiar with and he built this meditation from the first one we did. We meditated in the courtyard as darkness fell and eventually Zhang Shifu roused us and we walked back to our hotel which was not far away.

We had dinner back at the hotel and Zhang Shifu honored us with his presence.  During our dinner Zhang Shifu complimented my students saying that they are very good and learn quickly.  When dinner was finished my students, Eric and I went down to the hotel courtyard to review the Tai ji we had learned that day.  I stopped when I started to feel my back tighten up.  My back was starting to get sore after all the traveling by plane, train and bus and I knew I needed to let it relax.  Zhang Shifu came up to the rooms and was working on Sijo Molina’s back and he allowed me to watch and learn.  He massaged and worked on several pressure points that he named and went through with me.  When he was finished I described some of my back problems and he offered to work on it for me and adjusted my spine and massaged some of the muscles in my back.  My back loosened back up which was a relief and helped a lot.  Zhang Shifu is a very kind and generous person and it was nice of him to help us out with our ailments.  Afterwards it was late so I walked Zhang Shifu to the hotel entrance to see him off.  Now it is time for me to head to bed myself so that I can be well rested for more training tomorrow.

Comments  1 Comment »

  1. Carol Y.P. Lee - November 18, 2011 10:46 pm

    I too have met Master Zhang Jia Li. He is indeed incredible. Bottomline, I want to be part of a collective effort to bring him to America! If interested, please share your thoughts (with me), of how we might make this a reality…thanks.

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