A martial Monk from China, Master Zhong Xuechao (a.k.a Master Bing) recently visited Bowdoin College to talk about his life in the Wudang Mountains. The mountains, in Hubei province, are an important, centuries-old center of Taoism and its particular form of martial arts. As part of his visit, Bing offered a full-day taichi-qigong workshop for people of all experience levels.
In his presentation, “Dao and the American Dream,” Bing provided a visual tour of the Wudang Mountains and of his 22 years training in martial arts. As part of the tour, Master Bing demonstrated the Wudang sword form and the Wudang horsetail whisk form.
In vivid photographs, Bing led the audience from the Wudang Mountain Gate to the Golden Palace at the highest peak of the Wudang Mountains. This journey included stops at Jade Voice Mountain, Yuxu Temple, Prince Slope Temple, 5 Dragon Temple, Purple Heaven Temple, and Harmony Temple. In half an hour, the audience traveled roughly the same distance that trekkers would take a day and a half to hike.
Bing began training in martial arts when he was six. He moved to the Wudang Mountains in 1992 to become a 15th-generation disciple of Wudang Sanfeng Kungfu. To become a kungfu master, Bing said, “You train three to five years every day and take a test. Then you teach for two years. But I don’t know when I became a master.” He now knows over 25 Wudang martial arts forms of the 200-400 he claims that exist.
In his time in the mountains, Bing has seen dramatic changes. Increasing numbers of tourists are visiting the Wudang Mountains, a shift that has been met with a mixed reception from monks. More tourists means more government restoration money to conserve temples. The government has also supported Taoist control over the temples. However, more tourists also means kungfu practice cannot happen during the day and the mountains will never be as quiet as they once were.
Yabing Liu ’15, co-president of the Asian Students Association, was in charge of bringing Bing to Bowdoin. Liu said she thought that Bing’s presentation “gave people a sense of what China’s like away from the big metropolitan cities.”
Originally from China, Liu practiced taichi at home but gave it up when she came to Bowdoin. She began again last year when she discovered Ken Ryan offered taichi classes at the Buck Center. “Taichi is a way for me to de-stress and to get to know likeminded people. In a busy life on campus, it’s a moment to really settle down and think about what’s going on inside,” she said.
Liu added that she hopes Bing’s presentation and workshop might spark more interest here in taichi. “Students hopefully got to learn some taichi, which is not the most popular sport on campus, but a very valuable resource for student health,” she said.
Bing brought to Bowdoin two assistants, Paul and Rosalie DiCrescenzo. The DiCrescenzos collaborate with Bing to bring his presentation all over New England and to educate people about Wudang and the martial arts.
The event was created by the Asian Students Association and co-sponsored by Counseling and Services and Asian Studies