Taiji training in China and beyond
A long-held dream (starting in 1964 with my introduction to to the arts of Taijiquan and Shufa, fueled by David Carradine's Kung Fu series, and solidified during my first sojourn to the Middle Kingdom in 1975 at the end of The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution) of going to China to live, work and study Wushu on a mountain, in a temple with an ancient Daoist sage sporting a long white beard came true for me with this incredible human being at this magical place in the Year of the Rabbit, 1985.
YeYe 1985. August, Year of the Ox. First photo I took of Ding Hongkui as I was being led by the Pavilion on my first trip to Snake Hill. I was so impressed with this man. Three days later he accepted me in his school as first foreign student in 60 years of teaching at Snake Hill Pavilion. Though known, respected and admired throughout China (as I was to discover over and over in my travelscarrying his photos) for his Wushu expertise and overall reputation in Chinese Martial Arts, he was addressed simply as YeYe, or Grandfather. Ding YeYe's special knowledge concerned the Tang System and in this photo he was teaching Bagua Jian, the straight sword form of this system. Although I initially thought I would be studying taijiquan only, when I arrived for my first class (at 5:00 a.m.) I joined this class and began studying this waigong sword form. It was the first of some 30 forms I learned during this sojourn.
At the top of 282 steps to my room attached to this converted Buddhist temple. I took meals in the kitchen at the rear and my first school, where I taught English, used the main hall as a conference room and test site. I had just purchased this dao in the martial art department in a local department store. The great coat is military surplus provided by my school (Zhongnan Cai Jin Da Xue) during the unbelievably cold winter months for one of China's Three Furnaces! Wuhan is similar latitude and winter climate as Washington, D.C.
She Shan, Snake Hill/Mountain is a natural geologic formation that begins as a long sinuous ridge that divides the city of Wuchang in half. It ends on the south bank of the Chang Jiang (we call Yangtse River, Chinese call Long River), goes under the river and emerges in Hanyang as a round promontory called Haigui Shan, or Turtle Hill/Mountain. The large industrial city of Wuhan is comprised of three smaller citie: Hankou (traditionally spelled Hankow) the more well-know and former Western Imperialist "Concession City" of the 19th & early 20th Century, and the commercial center of the tri-city; Hanyang, the industrial center; and Wuchang, the administrative center of Hubei Province. Wuhan's airport and major universities are located in Wuchang. This was my home for three years teaching English at two universities.