Travel Report: Beijing, Luotan and Shanghai 3.6-16.6.2012
The Baji group from Baji Association visited China in June. In total nine men and women were under the guidance of our master for two weeks in the heat of the Chinese summer. We visited mainly three different places: we spent approximately a week in Beijing, we made a day trip to the village of Luotan and we spent three nights in Shanghai.
Master Han Zhenjiang joined us from the beginning of our trip. Master Han is the frontman of the present generation of the famous Han family Baji. His father’s brother was Master Lü’s teacher. After arriving in Beijing on the first day we met a Bagua master Zhang Quan Liang from Beijing along with some of his students. This master taught us some in-depth ideas related to Bagua, Taiji and the ying/yang theories. In accordance with customs we in turn demonstrated our own kung fu and after the event we were treated to a wonderful dinner in a nearby restaurant by an acquaintance of the Bagua master. In Beijing we also spent several mornings and evenings in Beijing’s parks with Master Han practicing the original forms and applications of the Han family. The heat was considerable, sometimes the sun was shining and the temperature was around 30 degrees but we kept steadfastly practicing even as we downed liter after liter of water.
In Beijing we rented a minibus for a day and made a trip to the village of Luotan and to the nearby city of Dacheng where Master Han has his own school. The trip to Luotan took 4 hours of driving through China’s massive network of highways, with views of the countryside being replete. These views were a welcome change to the endless concrete and shining glass cityscape of Beijing. The village of Luotan is located in the province of Cangzhou which is a very arid and dry area. Historically the area is famous for its martial arts and violent history. Luotan itself is a small farming village where the main method of sustenance is agriculture. In Luotan we visited the graves of the masters from previous generations and showed our respect by exploding firecrackers and burning “money for the dead”. After this we visited Master Lü’s teacher’s Han Longchuan’s grandsons home as well as the family home of the master Han Zhenjiang. In the yard of Master Han’s family home we had a small demonstration event where everyone demonstrated the forms that they had been practicing in recent days. Also the villagers came to demonstrate their skills. When the demonstrations were over we headed towards the village of Mengcu to eat and drink at a local restaurant. In the restaurant they had prepared for our arrival and when we came they played Chinese martial arts songs and there was a large banner on top of the restaurant indicating that we were welcome. The table was full of delicious local cuisine, both food and drink. The men from Luotan also demonstrated their Baji in front of the restaurant, and we likewise did the same. From Mengcun we headed towards nearby Dacheng where Master Han has his own school. The training and demonstrations continued late into the night until we headed back to Beijing tired but full of new experiences.
After the trip to Luotan we spent a few days in Beijing training and sightseeing. We also participated in our Master’s son’s wedding, which was a great experience for everyone. The next week we took a bullet train towards the ultra-modernist city of Shanghai. Master Li Tinhua and his students met us. We stayed in a hotel outside of Shanghai by the seaside. Li Tinhua is a famous student of the Ma family and he teachers so-called Ma family Tongbei that consists of Baji, Pigua, Fanzi and Tan Tui. His curriculum also included the style of Dun Hua with heavy Buddhist influences, which he teachers as basic exercises to young people. We practiced at his school for a few days and he gave us a taste of his Tan Tui, Pigua and Dun Hua styles. Practicing was especially hard because his teaching emphasized low stances and taking the movements of opening the body to the extreme. The climate in Shanghai was also tougher than in Beijing due to the high tropical humidity and as such we were sweating from the strain.
We spent two days getting to know the sights in Shanghai, one day we spent exploring old villages and places of historical interest and the second day we spent in the modern centre. Like Beijing, Shanghai is an incomprehensibly large city area that still keeps growing. The trip from our hotel to the centre took around three hours in the light midday traffic. On the last day there was a exhibition at Master Li Tinhua’s school and a local television crew came to record and interview people. We were naturally also given the chance to perform in front of the camera and our spokesman Antti gave a short interview. The next day we took the bullet train back to Beijing. We spent two more days in Beijing before returning to Finland.
The trip was a great experience for all of us and provided new perspectives on our training and on Chinese martial arts culture in general. The people of Luotan made a deep impression on us. It is amazing how they have preserved their martial traditions and continued practicing throughout the stormy conditions of Chinese history. Although we were from other sides of the world and did not speak the same language we were joined by Bajiquan.
Copyright © 2013 Baji Association