Cover of Chinese Kung Fu by Wang Guangxi. Cambridge UP, 2012.
Wang Guangxi. 2012. Chinese Kung Fu. Cambridge University Press. 115 pages.
The prestigious Cambridge University Press published not one but two books on the topic of the Chinese martial arts in 2012. Most students of martial studies will already be familiar with Peter Lorge’s volume Chinese Martial Arts: From antiquity to the Twenty-First Century. This was the first monograph by a major academic publisher attempting to provide a single volume introduction to the history of the Chinese fighting systems. As one would expect Lorge’s work has been discussed and reviewed in a number of places since its release
Less well known in martial studies is a slim volume by Professor Wang Guangxi titled Chinese Kung Fu. The author of this second study brings impressive credentials to the table. According to his biography on the Cambridge…
The following modest wooden house is where I stayed in Chiang Mai, Thailand when I trained with Sifu Rasmus. Sifu Rasmus teaches Taji Fajin, Hermetics and Metaphysics in this idilic setting nestled at the foot of a mountain and within ear shot of a buddhist retreat.
Leaving the cold and smog of Beijing behind I headed to Chiang Mai for 1 month of intensive training.Sifu Rasmus courses run from 1 to 12 weeks or longer depending on the content. His students tend to be instructors or masters who are looking to add greater depth to their knowledge or a more internal flavour to their art.
During the training period Sifu Rasmus would from time to time hold his class in the grounds of some of Chiang Mai’s most spectacular temples. In this visual blog I share three of my favorite. Below you will see a picture of an impressive nagga (Nāga, a group of serpent deities in Hindu and Buddhist mythology).
A place were I began training the air element, metaphysics and meditation.
Wat Umong was built in 1927 by King Manglai of the LAN dynasty underneath the stupa above there are caves and shrines, and in the grounds you can find a garden of broken sculptures and a fasting bodhisvista. A place of tranquility where resident monks provide willing students a meditation retreat.
“Where talking trees have words of wisdom”
The hidden jungle temple of Wat Palad below has a special energy and was overall my favorite temple in Chiang Mai.
“The monastery at the sloping rock, visited by the God of the Earth”
3 transformations at Wat Chedi Luang.
“Please, come to the monk chat”
The ancient temple of Wat Chedi Luang in the centre of Chiang Mai’s walled city is one of the most important temples in Chiang Mai. It houses the ashes of the 14th century King Saen Muang Ma’s father. The big stupa is guarded on each of its four sides by two mythical serpent naga’s at the base and further up by rows of elephants. Peaceful in the evening the stupa vibrates with energy. Monks and nuns chant sutras and welcome conversation with travelers.
Climbing to the top of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
“Wat Phra That Doi Suthep’s Emerald Buddha overlooking Chiang Mai”
I visited this temple on the festival of Makhachkala Bucha. The festival honours the event when 1,250 of Buddha’s disciples congregated to hear an important sermon.Buddhists carry flowers, lightened candles and joss sticks while walking around the stupa three times on the day and night of the full moon in February.
Although this visual bog focuses on the temples I visited while training in Chiang Mai. It would be a miss of me not to say something of my training time with Sifu Rasmus. So I’ll keep it short and simply say that training with Sifu Rasmus was an excellent decision that helped demystify some of the secrets of Taichi fajin, as well as principles and themes explored in hermetics and metaphysics. Overall the course has been a great help for my own practice and I’d like to say a big personal thank you for Sifu Rasmus, guidance, welcome, coffee and of course friendship. Sifu Rasmus’s YouTube Channel – http://www.youtube.com/user/SifuMarkRasmus
Zhou Zhen Dong is the head of the Yantai branch of Taiji Mantis. The sole inheritor to his teacher, Zhang Kai Tang, he teaches Taiji Mantis as well as Hao family Meihua Mantis. Highly respected both in China and the west, he has taught students from many countries, including UK, USA, Austria, Hungary, Russia and Japan as well as various parts of China.
Zhou Shifu, please could you tell us how you started your training in Kung Fu
My first teacher was called Yu Zhi Ru. I was around 15 when I started training with him.
Master Yu was a Chinese doctor. He would read people’s pulse and prescribe them herbs for a small fee. He did this secretly. He was very skilled, you didn’t need to tell him what illness you had, he could tell by your pulse. Actually I met him because he was a friend of my grandfather. When I was a child he often came to our home, and sometimes he talked about kung fu, showing us some moves. I was interested, and started learning “sheng yuan men” (saintly ape style) from him. The forms included “bai yuan chu dong” (white ape exits the cave), “bai yuan kui yuan” (white ape spies the orchard), “bai yuan tou tao” (white ape steals a peach), “bai yuan gun” (white ape staff), “bai yuan xian tao” (white ape offers the peach), “bei dou quan” (fist of the north star). These are derived from a Chinese myth.
Could you share the myth for those unfamiliar
There was a white ape. His father died and then his mother got ill from depression. White ape heard there was an orchard on a mountain where the peaches of immortality grew every 500 years. He decided to get his mother a peach. So after leaving his cave he set off on a long journey. When he finally arrived on the slopes of the sacred mountain, he found the orchard, first spying it from afar to see if it was guarded. Seeing the coast was clear he ran right in and stole a peach. However he was caught by Er Lang and the two of them had a staff fight. Bai Yuan begged him to stop attacking. Once Er Lang realised Bai Yuan could talk he asked why he stole the peach. Moved by the story of his mother, he agreed to give him one peach. Bai Yuan returned home and gave the peach to his mother. Surely, his mother was cured, and so they bowed down and paid respects to the god of the north star.
Master Yu had a huge black cat which he really loved. That time China was really poor and people were hungry. One day the cat stole some neighbours dried fish, and they caught it and killed it. My teacher became really depressed and got sick. At that time, Master Yu was over 80 years old, and his wife was 30 years younger than him. He was retired at home, and she was still working. Everyday after school I helped to look after my teacher. He told me to go out and buy ginger, leek and radish, and then cook it and put it in a cloth. He then put the cloth on his body to sweat out the sickness. After doing that for a while he started to get better. But then after a year or two, he got sick again, this time more serious. He stopped teaching me kung fu as he got weaker, and taught me pulse reading and Chinese medicine, making me read a lot of old books I didn’t really understand. His wife and I looked after him until he passed away at 85. Me and his wife carried his body to be cremated.
How did you come to meet Zhang Kai Tang
Zhang Kai Tang was my neighbour. My sister was engaged to his son and she introduced me. Master Zhang asked me to show him what I learnt, so I performed “bai yuan tou tao”. I used all my power. That time, everybody said I was really good. But he wasnt impressed at all. He said I was just using my arms, and had no body power. He offered to teach me the form “beng bu”. Before, I never imagined kung fu could be so difficult! Also, at that time, I didn’t understand much, what was Taiji Mantis, what was Meihua Mantis. Slowly Master Zhang explained. Bengbu is Taiji Mantis, which comes from Cui Shou Shan. He didn’t plan on teaching me anything more. But I kept hanging around, determined to learn more. So he asked me what do I want to learn, Meihua Lu or Chuan Zhi? He showed me a few moves. I thought Chuan Zhi looked nice, so I said Chuan Zhi. He explained Chuan Zhi was Meihua Mantis, from the Hao family. Chuan Zhi was 4 forms, 20 roads in total.
Can you tell us something about Zhang Kai Tang
Zhang Kai Tang studied with Hao Heng Xin for six years. Hao Heng Xin was one of six brothers who were the masters of the Hao family Meihua Mantis. After that, his uncle invited Cui Shou Shan to be his live in teacher for another 6 years. That time was very strict, a private teacher who ate and slept with them. In the morning, they did iron body training, trained kung fu all day, then at 11pm every night did meditation. Zhang Kai Tang had 2 brothers, but they couldn’t take the harsh training and dropped out.
So first he learnt under Hao Heng Xin, later under Cui Shou Shan. Can you tell us something about these great masters
Hao Heng Xin was famous for his iron palm. It was said he could strike a match on his hand. Zhang Kai Tang learnt this skill from him. One time, during sparring, he hit his partner in the face. It made a cut on his eye which made his whole face swollen. This was due to the medicine they soaked their hands in before and after iron palm training. Hao Heng Xin had a student called Su Shi Chang. He was really strong, as he pulled the rickshaws for a living. He was out fighting one day and beat his opponent. He came back really happy to brag to his master. Hao Heng Xin was meditating, and got annoyed by his disturbance. Master Hao slipped his shoes half on and stood up with his eyes closed, offering to show the student some real skill. His left hand behind his back he held out his right hand softly and told the student to attack him. As soon as the student moved in, Master Hao palmed him in the face, cutting his eye. The next day it was swollen so bad he couldn’t even open it.
After 6 years, he learnt everything from Hao Heng Xin. His uncle offered to find him “a top level master from Laiyang, the home of mantis”. So he brought Cui Shou Shan to his home to teach the 3 brothers. As soon as he met Master Cui, he was really impressed by his depth of knowledge. His first teacher was really angry, and got his brothers together to beat Master Cui. My teacher went to Master Hao and explained, “You are always my shifu, I learnt everything from you. But I want to keep learning and developing, Master Cui has a lot to teach me.” My teacher always sent gifts to Master Hao during festivals. All his life he said “I have two masters, Master Hao and Master Cui.”
After 6 years, Master Cui left at the invitation of Sun Xiang Ting to teach in a school there. Hao Heng Lu (elder brother of Hao Heng Xin) approached him saying “your boxing is great, really great, but you still haven’t mastered all the weapons yet.” He then asked my teacher to teach Master Cui’s style in his school and taught him Damo Jian (bodhidharma sword), Baxian Jian (eight immortals sword), Qixing Jian (seven star sword) and Meihua Qiang (plum blossom spear) in return. Master Cui was really angry by this and forbid my teacher to continue doing this.
Could you explain about your training during the Cultural Revolution
During the Cultural Revolution, traditional martial arts were classed under the “four olds”. Any kind of old culture or antiques were forbidden and destroyed. All you were allowed to do was study “Mao Ze Dong thought”, sing “socialism is great” etc.
As far as traditional arts, they were replaced with modern wushu. “first level fist” “second level fist” “first level sabre” “second level sabre” etc. national regulated forms. This included the 24 posture form of taiji. You had to learn all the different Mao Ze Dong books and quotes, life were really boring. There was nothing you could do to enjoy yourself, no happiness. On top of that, life was harsh. Everything was planned and provided by the state. How much meat and grain you could eat every day was regulated.
So if you were engaged in traditional activities, people would condemn you, persecute you. So that time we had to train in secret. In my teacher’s home, or at night after dinner, I would find a dark place with no people to train. I was seen by people from time to time, if people saw me, they would leave immediately, didn’t dare to get involved. Actually, not many people really went outside at night, they were so poor, so after eating, normally they just slept. And there was no lighting outside anyway.
During the Cultural Revolution, the red guards just came into everyone’s homes, and took away anything old. Nobody could say or do anything, they took what they wanted and left. If you refused, they put a hat on your head and beat you in public. Called you a “right winger”, “bad element”, “counter revolutionary” etc. After Deng Xiao Ping came to power, these words were banned from use, and the hats were all burnt. He said we are all equal, nobody can persecute anyone else.
When the Japanese invaded China they banned martial arts training, calling it “iron man training”. That time my teacher buried his weapons and iron palm urn under the ground. After several years, the Japanese were defeated, he dug them up. But they were all rusted. The iron palm urn was totally wrecked, but he restored the weapons. He taught his oldest son with his sabre, and they would cut bricks with it. Then during the Cultural Revolution, this sabre was taken away again.
What about your view on the present state of martial arts in China
Nowadays, a lot of westerners like kung fu. In the beginning, westerners didn’t know what kung fu really is, and went to universities, or other places like shaolin temple, to learn kung fu. Cartwheels, flying kicks, actually that’s the same as gymnastics. Real kung fu is “among the people”. Slowly, westerners started to realise this, and are now looking among the people, rather than learning “flowery fists and embroidered kicks”, in the old days it was called “chou gong fu” “jun bashi”. Running around the hall leaping around, that isn’t martial arts, it’s gymastics or “yishu”. So after Deng Xiao Ping made the “open door policy” China realised the treasure of traditional culture and is trying to revive it. Tanglang quan has been included in the list of “intangeible cultural heritage”.
Nowadays due to higher living standards and especially the “one child policy”, Chinese people are afraid of “eating bitter”. This means to endure hardship. This is especially the case in the cities. If you look in the big kung fu schools, the kids are all from poor rural areas. City kids will learn piano, English, dance etc. a lot of old masters have nobody to teach, their arts die with them. A lot of westerners come to China, train hard, respect and love the art; of course a teacher will want to pass their art onto them. Before, a lot of old masters were persecuted, killed, we learnt in secret, we couldn’t open a school or openly teach people.
Anyway, a lot of old styles are being lost. In fact, I believe, in 20-30 years, if Chinese want to revive our arts; we will have to go to the west to learn kung fu. Kids aren’t interested, parents don’t want their kids to learn.
Thank you for your time, Zhou Shifu
This interview was conducted by Will Wain-Williams. For more information on his teacher, and on praying mantis kung fu, you can visit his website here. http://www.monkeystealspeach.co.uk
You know, sometimes it’s easy to write a blog. Sometimes you’ll be walking along the street and you’ll see something, or something will happen, and you’ll think “that’s it!” and suddenly you’ll have a topic, or good entry into a point, or both and some deep insightful point about personal safety would be just around the corner.
A couple of years ago that kind of thing used to happen to me all the time, travelling around China for a year it’d be a strange day if I didn’t find something I could write about. These days, sadly, my experiences are not such blog fodder – my horizons have shrunk to England, a regular 9-5 job, a mortgage, a dog.
Well, no dog.
But I like the image.
And I want a dog.
Such a sedentary lifestyle also comes with its own problems – you don’t realise how much you moved in a day until it’s gone, and your commute consists of stumbling downstairs into the spare room (I work from home). If you’re over 30, this takes its toll – stiffness, low energy, short breath. If you’re under 30, you bastard, don’t worry you may not understand yet – but you will…
So, to try and defend against my creeping atrophy, I dedicated my early mornings to stretching, and breathing. Self defence against sloth, if you will. For me it was Qi Gong, a series of Chinese stretches and diaphragmatic breathing techniques using dynamic tension.
If that sounds a bit confusing, don’t worry it sounds harder than it is but you’re not alone – almost nobody I know knows how to breathe. Oh sure they think they do, and they manage to do it well enough to not collapse in a dying heap on the floor every 20 seconds, but trust me they don’t. No offence but there’s a pretty good chance that you, reading this, don’t know how to either.
And you know what, I’m not sure why. Babies know how to breathe – you watch the wee nappy wearing tykes as they trot along; you can see their belly thrusting in and out as their lungs remain pretty still. That’s because they’re breathing with their diaphragm. In fact you watch a running horse or dog, even an angry gorilla – diaphragm, diaphragm, diaphragm. (although if you are watching an angry Gorilla to be fair the fact that there is an angry Gorilla at close proximity is probably the main thought that’ll be running through your head. Rather than ‘ooh, look at how he uses his diaphragm to do such a fancy roar’).
Somehow, along the way, we forget on our path to adulthood and replace the correct muscle memory for breathing with a shallow, chest-led breathing that only accesses about 60% of our total lung capacity.
Now this is fine for our modern aged sedentary lifestyle of sitting at home, sitting in a car, sitting on the train then sitting at a desk. You don’t need much oxygen for that, and you’re not getting much. Job done.
The problem is, when you’re suddenly put into a high-stress situation like, say, being attacked, you’re not going to be able to cope. As soon as the adrenal response kicks in, your blood vessels dilate so that more blood can be pumped around the body, giving more oxygen to your limbs and organs to function at a much higher rate for short periods of time – to fight back, run swiftly in the opposite direction, or both. Any which way, you’re going to need oxygen, and lots of it.
The problem is that with all that shallow breathing you’ve spend all that time training your body to do that’s what you’re going to do in a pickle, and your body is making much higher demands of your oxygen supply, you’re just not going to get enough fuel to get the job done. It’d be like trying to drive a race car with half the sparkplugs, or running a steam train with half the coal. Or an angry Gorilla with half the bananas. Or something.
My advice, for what it’s worth, is to learn to breathe properly and then do it – all the time. This is easier than you might think. Qi Gong does it for me, but you can also get it from most traditional martial arts (with a good instructor), Tai Chi, Yoga, Pilates, a good fitness instructor or even an actor or speech coach
Through QiGong and martial arts I learnt how to access breathing and use it to add power to movement, but I actually learned most about how to actively engage the diaphragm through a speech coach.
Whatever the source they key is to do it. As much as you can. When sitting, walking, exercising, everywhere. Because you need to turn it into a muscle memory, make it normal, replace that horrible shallow lung-breathing I see everywhere with some lovely, deep, diaphragmatic breathing.
Then, and only then, in a high-stress situation, will you will the correct muscle memory response kick in and get your enough of the 02 good stuff to do what you need to do. Your body will be primed to squeeze every last drop of goodness from the air and turning it to energy to fight back, escape, survive.
It’ll also help you sleep, and concentrate, and reduce stress, and increase energy and if you’re really luck, tenuously link a dull life of lethargy to a fundamental lesson on self defence for a blog promoting an awesome book.
Mantis boxing, which orginates from Eastern China, is a kung fu system which has distinctive characteristics and is famous both within China and overseas. With its distinctive characteristics it has attracted many experienced members of the martial arts world. Through hard training and dedication throughout the generations, mantis boxing has been refined and developed.
Wang Lang and Mantis 王朗 与 螳螂拳
When talking about mantis boxing, many people may be reminded of Wang Lang and his historic legend. In the story, Wang Lang is a handsome and skilful Wushu hero. He was defeated in a duel with a master of Tongbi style called Han Tong. Wang Lang was disappointed and set to training himself for a rematch.
He came across a praying mantis defending itself against a small bird. The mantis avoided the birds attack with great skill and body movement. Wang Lang had a talent for observation and realised the mantis’ movements could be studied and related to martial arts. Through several years of observation he created the unique style of mantis boxing. After creating the style, many people came to challenge Wang Lang and all were defeated. But this is all legend, what about the real history?
According to the Wushu dictionary published in 1985, Wang Lang was born around the end of Ming and beginning of Qing dynasty in Jimo district. At that time Jimo was under the administration of Laiyang County, so people also called Wang Lang “Laiyi”. According to this source, Wang Lang was a leading member in a revolutionary movement to overthrow the Manchu invaders, who started the Qing, and restore the Ming dynasty. After failing in the revolution, Wang Lang retreated to the mountains.
The existence of Wang Lang seems to be true, but how much contribution did he make to mantis boxing? According to my master (Zhang Kai Tang), through decades of combat he created “the mantis shape” and applied it successfully building a strong reputation. However he didn’t create the entire system, only the “mantis shape”, which was the beginning of the system. It seems the person who really created the system of mantis can’t be confirmed by any sources. Wang Lang can however be a figure the followers of mantis can admire and respect.
Li Bing Xiao and Zhao Zhu 李秉霄 与 赵珠
According the Laiyang History Annals, Li Bing Xiao accompanied his father in the south. There, a man in prison had fallen sick, so a prison guard requested a doctor. Li Bing Xiao was a very good doctor, so he went to read the thief’s pulse and treat him. After recovering, the thief ran away in the night.
Several months later, Li Bing Xiao was at home alone when the thief arrived suddenly at his home and thanked him for saving his life. They talked for a while and the thief agreed to teach him kung fu. Li Bing Xiao was talented and learnt quickly. After that the thief left and was never seen again.
The thief in this story was the first master of mantis boxing as remembered by all the successive generations. Who he was, and where he learnt mantis boxing is a mystery; only the name “heroic thief” has remained.
Li Bing Xiao, also known as “Li Er Gou” (Li 2 ditches), is the second master listed in the genealogy. His life is also full of amazing tales. During his youth, Li Bing Xiao was a scholar. However he failed the imperial exam and then fled to live in the mountains in recluse. His circle of friends was all swordsmen and Li Bing Xiao was fond of travelling around. However he never used his real name in public. It was said Li Bing Xiao was highly criticial of society and he cared nothing for the outside world. He was regarded a sage. His unique life had a great influence on the development of mantis boxing.
Zhao Zhu, also known as Qi Lu was the third master. According to Laiyang History Annals, Zhao Zhu was Li Bing Xiao’s best disciple. One time he was lying in bed when a thief broke in. Zhao Zhu merely waved his arm in the air and the thief collapsed on the floor. Surely this level of kung fu would be admired by everybody.
Zhao Zhu was taught by Li Bing Xiao and trained himself every day. After several years he had mastered the entire system. One winter he escorted his master to the river ferry to return home for Chinese New Year. At the river bank Master Li said to Zhao Zhu “I have taught you everything, the only thing left is Qing Gong (light body skills)”. With that jumped onto the thin ice and within seconds had run across the entire river! Li Bing Xiao’s internal power was incredible, so we can find mantis boxing is also a great internal system. Unfortunately, Li Bing Xiao never returned to teach the skill as he got ill and died. The skill “flying like a swallow” was never passed on, only this story to leave us to dream.
Liang Xue Xiang 梁学香
According to the Laiyang History Annals, Liang Xue Xiang was the fourth master of mantis boxing. Liang was physically short and thin, but his movements were fast and powerful. Once he asked his students to get an “eight immortals table”, and he went underneath the table and started performing his kung fu, his long clothes never even got tangled up. During a competition he killed a man with a single blow and gained the name “Liang the hammer”. In other aspects he was physically weak however. His father often criticised him as he couldn’t even carry a sack of rice or do farm work in his youth. From this we can make the conclusion that the power required in kung fu is different to the power required for physical labour. This is internal and external power.
Liang Xue Xiang worked as a bodyguard escorting good s caravans to the north. After one particularly dangerous battle, he decided to quit. That time he was escorting caskets of silver. They got as far as Cangzhou in Hebei province. The time was late so they hitched up at a local inn. Suddenly a group of about thirty or forty armed robbers gathered. Liang grabbed a long plank of wood and fought them off in the yard. The scene was a mess and so noisy nobody could hear a thing. Suddenly Liang’s plank of wood got hacked up, so he had to fight them barehanded. The robbers eventually fled and Liang and his team left Cangzhou. During the fight, Liang had got injured in his right eye and became blinded. Since then he got the nickname “One eyed Liang”.
After that event, Liang gave up his job and took his experience back to his hometown of Haiyang to teach mantis boxing. Master Liang was the first master to document mantis boxing in writing.
In his old days his disciple Jiang Hua Long had a house built for him. Liang went to see the house and said “this isn’t well built at all!” Jiang disagreed, claiming he had used the best materials. Liang didn’t say anything; he just struck a wall with his hip and made a huge crack down the wall! (This house is in a small village in Haiyang and the crack can still be seen to this day.)
His good condition didn’t last forever, one autumn after practicing the form Luan Jie, he sat on a chair, closed his eyes and died.
Jiang Hua Long and Li Dan Bai 姜化龙 与 李丹伯
The fifth master of mantis boxing in Laiyang was Jiang Hua Long. According to the Laiyang History annals ” Mr Zhu often said, ‘my footprints have touched seven provinces, I don’t need to worry if one thousand people attack me. There are only two people who I hold in awe; one is Mr Zhen from Shanxi, the other is Jiang Hua Long…… Hua Long is from Huang Jin Gou village, studies mantis boxing….. his height is barely five foot and he is overweight. He looks completely useless, but when you try to get close to him, you immediately feel his speed and power is like a strong ape…….”
In his young age Jiang Hua Long started training under Liang Xue Xiang. However, due to his young age he liked to play and was always naughty. He didn’t train hard and thought highly of his own skill. His master saw talent in him, so much that others couldn’t compare to him; so he couldn’t stand to watch him grow up in this bad way. So one day Master Liang wrote a letter to his elder student and asked little Jiang to take it to him. He wanted to teach the kid a lesson. When the elder student received it, he immediately beat the child! Little Jiang ran back to his master crying to tell him what happened. Master Liang scolded him, saying “look at you, such great kung fu and you can’t even fend for yourself against others!” Little Jiang realised the error of his ways and that his master cared about him. He changed his outlook and trained as hard as he could and eventually became the next inheritor to the system of mantis.
Jiang Hua Long’s character was tough and enduring. He really enjoyed fighting; so much so that as soon as he heard a new school opened, he would go and challenge them! Many teachers made a living from their kung fu, so they deeply hated Jiang and often plotted against him. One time, several masters got together to attack him while he went to the toilet. While he was in the middle of his business, they all ganged up on him. Luckily, he managed to beat them all off, and later they were all very worried he wouldn’t let it go. They convinced the village elders to pacify Jiang; due to their position, he had no choice but to accept the apology.
During Jiang’s lifetime, more and more people began learning mantis boxing, and would mix the mantis posture with other styles, creating new forms. As many new branches appeared, so mantis boxing became more popular. When talking about Jiang Hua Long, we must also mention Li Dan Bai. Towards the end fo the Qing dynasty and beginning of the republic, these two men had big reputations as fighters; their kung fu was considered “as high as Mount Tai”. Li Dan Bai had originally studied Chang Quan (long fist) and enjoyed fighting even more than Jiang. Every time he learnt a new move, he would go out and test it out against members of other schools. As his school was held responsible, his master had no choice but to expel him. At that time, other schools would not accept a student who had been expelled, so he never found another school to train at.
When Li Dan Bai was training at the Chang Quan school, he learnt one form, which became known as the unbeatable Zhong Lu Fan Che. He put his blood and sweat into the form in a way no modern person could match. Master Zhang Kai Tang said about him “as soon as he lifted a hand and stepped a foot, the dirt on the ground flew up, his power was unmatched. When doing this form, he looked like a dragon rising up. When he fought his long sleeves whipped against the floor creating a blinding whirl and sending dirt into the opponent’s eyes and he moved in to attack.”
Jiang Hua Long heard of this unbeaten man and went to find him. He saw him at the challenge ground in a yellow outfit, Master Jiang was wearing green. He mounted the platform and mocked Li. The two stood facing each other, both undefeated; what a sight it must have been!
Master Zhang Kai Tang described the event as a match between a yellow dragon and a green butterfly. The two were fairly evenly matched, but eventually Jiang knocked Li out and was victorious.
Jiang Hua Long and Li Dan Bai became like brothers after this event. They exchanged techniques and Li gave Jiang his notorious form “zhong lu fan che”, as well as a heavy spear form, and in return Jiang taught him mantis boxing. In later years, Li Dan Bai defeated all opponents who came and opened many schools. However due to overtraining hard techniques, he became disabled and required the help of others to do simple daily tasks. Jiang Hua Long stayed in Laiyang and taught many students well into old age.
Song Zi De and the “theee mountains two pavilions” 宋子德 与 三山两亭
According to the Laiyang history Annals, Song Zi De (pictured to the left) who also went by the name Song Yao Kun, was the sixth generation master of Mantis boxing.
The Song family was a very rich family which owned a lot of land around Laiyang. Due to his comfortable life, Song Zi De didn’t have to work hard and so could devote all his time to training kung fu. He spent a lot of time researching many styles of kung fu and had a deep understanding of mantis boxing. Master Zhang said of Song Zi De that in the development of mantis boxing, he was the most important person.
Song Zi De looked very soft and unassuming, but he had immense power. Whenever he went into Laiyang, people would come to challenge him; with one movement, he would send them flying away. Master Song taught hundreds of people in his life, but his most famous students were known as “3 mountains 2 pavilions” (mountain in Chinese is Shan, pavilion is Ting). They were Cui Shou Shan, Li Kun Shan, Wang Yu Shan, Song Fu Ting and Zhao Xi Ting. These five students trained with their whole heart, as well as receiving extra care from Master Song, and mastered the entire system of mantis boxing.
Amongst the “3 mountains 2 pavilions” Song Fu Ting was the grandson of Song Zi De. He was very talented in martial arts, but was a lonely person and spent his days at home training by himself. Apart from occasionally overseeing classes at the kung fu school, he took no formal students of his own.
Li Kun Shan (pictured right) was the grandson of Li Dan Bai; he actually studied under Jiang Hua Long. Li Kun Shan took part in a national kung fu competition where he beat all competitors in free fighting and was awarded a gold medal for spear by Chiang Kai Shek himself. Later Li Kun Shan relocated to Taiwan where he opened a school and the art spread overseas from there.
Wang Yu Shan (on the left) moved to Qingdao where he opened up a school, and had many students too.
Zhao Xi Ting’s life was unrecorded.
Cui Shou Shan and the Mantis Texts 崔寿山 与 螳螂拳谱
Master Cui Shou Shan became known as the seventh generation in our lineage. Master Cui opened the National Martial arts school in Laiyang, then later moved to Da Lian city (Liaoning province, northeast China) to teach. During the 1930’s Master Zhang Kai Tang invited him to move to Yantai to live with him and teach him mantis boxing.
Master Cui had three main disciples: Ji Chun Ting, Zhang Kai Tang and Sun Xiang Ting.
Ji Chun Ting originally learnt from Song Zi De for a short time, and then sought out master Cui. He informally taught Hao Bin of Hao family Meihua mantis, who moved to Qingdao where he spread the art.
While living in Yantai, Master Cui’s son was sick. He was cured by Sun Xiang Ting and so Master Cui taught him mantis to thank him. Sun Xiang Ting never took any disciples.
In his lifetime, his greatest achievement was in writing a complete manuscript on mantis. The manuscript begins with:
“Martial arts may be departed into the internal and external families. The external draws its roots from Shaolin, and emphasises combat effectiveness. The internal uses stillness to overcome movement, and originates from a man named Zhang San Feng. Song Yi had a high level of martial skill, and even united the country. But his skill was only external; he had mastered Chang Quan. During the Ming Dynasty, the borders of China had a lot of conflict, and a lot of brave warriors were recruited by rebellious states. Master Li was the greatest; he had learnt all 18 skills. During the Qing Dynasty, there were two departments of government; military and civil, but they both used the same examination system. At that time, Li Bing Xiao, who was a scholar, didn’t pass the imperial examinations and so went into recluse in the mountains. He spent a long time living amongst swordsmen and warriors. He knew many skilled masters, and mastered both internal and external together; formulating the system of mantis. He travelled around, but didn’t use his real name, so he avoided fame. He passed on his skills to Master Liang, named Xue Xiang. He passed away and Master Jiang, named Hua Long inherited the skills. Master Jiang passed the skills onto my teacher, Master Song Zi De, also named Yao Kun. Up to now it has about 100 years of history. Song Zi De passed it on to Peng Nian and some other students. He wasn’t very clever and couldn’t meet Song Zi De’s requirements, but when he practiced with other students, when he came across an idea, he would write it down and now I have researched his notes. When Master Song came across some principles during his training and fighting, he wrote it down. Now I have gathered and collected these notes to make this text. I hope this content; whoever receives this knowledge can pass this on. I wish whoever could get this from Song Zi De could pass it down too, as I admire his virtue. I worry after a long time, the skills will be lost, so I write this down so as to encourage myself.”
This manuscript expounds mantis boxing in great detail; giving the later generations a first-hand picture of mantis boxing. It expounds the methods of correct use of power and body mechanics, as well as combat application of the art. In this way it exceeds any other written texts on martial arts.
Cui Shou Shan passed on his art to Zhang Kai Tang, then returned to Laiyang, where he passed away in 1969.
Zhang Meng Jia & Zhang Kai Tang 张蒙家 与 张楷堂
In the city of Yantai, the Zhang family have run a kung fu school since the Ming dynasty. Later on, the family became rich. Before the revolution they were the richest family in old Yantai. When Zhang Meng Jia was young he worked hard and business was really successful, this enabled him to devote his energy to mantis boxing.
Zhang Meng Jia originally knew of mantis boxing through Jiang Hua Long, but because he didn’t train hard enough, he didn’t attain a high level. In fact, Zhang Meng Jia’s hobby wasn’t really kung fu, but chess. Later he invited Song Zi De to his home to teach him kung fu, but really wanted to learn chess. Master Song once asked Zhang “little brother, what do you understand about Master Jiang’s teaching?” He turned his glass and replied “my understanding of kung fu all went into my stomach with this alcohol!” Although he didn’t really attain much in kung fu, he had a good relationship with the main branch of mantis masters.
Zhang Kai Tang (pictured seated with disciple Zhou Zhen Dong) was the grandson of Zhang Meng Jia and he really liked kung fu. Originally he studied the Hao family Meihua mantis. At that time, the Hao family were very famous in Yantai and their forms included Luohan Quan, Meihua Pi (later renamed Taiji Pi), Tie Sha Zhang and Chuan Zhi. The founder, Hao Lian Ru was friends with Liang Jing Chuan (son of Liang Xue Xiang) and studied the form Luan Jie from him, which he combined with his own knowledge to create the Hao family style. Master Zhang learnt from Hao Heng Lu and Hao Heng Xin (two sons of Hao Lian Ru) for six years, and mastered their art.
In the beginning of the 1930s, Master Zhang and Zhang Meng Jia went to Dalian to invite Cui Shou Shan to their home to teach martial arts. Because Zhang Meng Jia was well known to the martial arts circles, Master Cui agreed. Master Zhang provided Cui Shou Shan with four plates and six bowls of food a day. Every year he paid 300 Da Yang, a price higher than any other!
Master Cui soon found out Zhang Kai Tang excelled in martial arts. He really trained as hard as he could. Master Cui to him “when you practice, you look just like my master!” But Zhang Kai Tang was very humble and didn’t boast. He trained as hard as he could and mastered the entire system in just six years. Zhang Kai Tang practiced every day without fail, people said he was the top student of Cui Shou Shan, but he dismissed this claim. In 1993 he passed away at the age of 83.
(Zhang Kai Tang passed the art onto his own sons, as well as my shifu, Zhou Zhen Dong. Zhou Zhen Dong is currently the only person teaching the art of Zhang Kai Tang, which includes the Taiji Mantis of Cui Shou Shan as well as the old forms of the Hao family.)
Praying Mantis kung fu is a very well known but little understood art. Contrary to popular belief it is not about mimicking the insect, and has very little direct relation to Shaolin Temple. There is a well known myth about a man called Wang Lang who, after losing a fight, witnessed a mantis catching a cicada and became inspired to create a new style. However, outside of this myth, there is almost no historical record of a man named Wang Lang actually existing.
In fact, what is more likely is that Praying Mantis is a collection of styles indigenous to the Shandong region, which has been a hotbed of conflict and strife throughout Chinese history. The oldest texts of Praying Mantis have a list of 18 styles, the last one being Praying Mantis, which it comments “absorbed and equalised the previous 17”. (Actually this list is the only mention of Wang Lang as far as I know).
At some unknown point, somebody condensed the fighting techniques of Praying Mantis into three form: Beng Bu 崩补, Luan Jie 乱接 and Ba Zhou 八肘. Beng Bu contains the basic techniques and steps, Luan Jie is made up of 36 mother techniques and Ba Zhou is 64 close range techniques. While Ba Zhou is generally translated as “eight elbows”, technically the Chinese word “zhou” refers to a joint of the body, so it is using the eight joints as weapons – fist, wrist, elbow, shoulder, head, hip, knee, foot.
A huge development came, when Liang Xue Xiang, during the 19th century, created the series of Zhai Yao 摘要. After a
lifetime of work in the armed escort agencies, escorting goods through bandit infested areas of Shandong and Hebei to Beijing, he created a series of 6 forms called “the essentials”, Zhai Yao. He took the basis from the Mi Shou 秘手 , or secret hands, combined with knowledge he had picked up on his travels and during his many fights to create these new forms.
Liang Xue Xiang’s most famous student was Jiang Hua Long. He is the figure responsible for popularising Praying Mantis. It was said he was fond of fighting, and challenged every school and master he met. While this made him a lot of enemies, it also brought him a lot of students, and he was often invited to stay in villages and teach the local people. Because of this, many new styles started to spring up, after people combined their own local village styles with the knowledge Jiang gave them. During his travels, Jiang met a man named Li Dan Bai, who was just as fond of fighting as him. In fact, Li was so fond of fighting, he was banned from entering any schools in Yantai. This left him teacherless, and his only option was to master the little he knew, which was a set of long range arm wheeling techniques called Fan Che 翻车. It seemed when the two met, they had finally met their match, and being so impressed with each other, exchanged their skills. After Fan Che was added into Praying Mantis, it more-or-less became the complete system we find today.
Praying Mantis kung fu is based around 12 keywords (which I will write about later). In a nutshell, these 12 keywords deal with methods of provoking, sticking, trapping, striking and taking down the opponent. The style also places emphasis on deception, in a similar way to a boxer with his feints. For example, feinting high then striking low, feinting with punches to open up for a kick, deliberately provoking the opponent to block and then using the contact as set up for a lock or throw. Emphasis is placed on a method of power known as Hulun Jin 囫囵劲, a local Yantai slang word meaning something like “whole” or “complete”; the analogy my teacher uses is after a mule rolls in the grass it will stand up and suddenly shake it’s whole body (basically like how a dog shakes itself dry after swimming in a river). The power bursts out from the body in a sudden, complete explosion concentrated into one point, be it the fist, elbow, shoulder or any other part.
This here is a brief introduction to the style of Praying Mantis, my understanding comes primarily from my own lineage of Taiji Mantis. Please check back regularly, as I will be writing more on the various aspects of our style, including the history, weapons and other training methods. You can find out more about Praying Mantis kung fu, and about me and my training at www.monkeystealspeach.co.uk.
Now that I have gotten my political commentary out of the system, on to the city itself. As I mentioned in the previous post – Ho Chi Minh city is mad with scooters. Millions of people scooting around, honking, ducking, weaving and generally jamming up as a group.
Our first stop in Ho Chi Minh was the markets, our opportunity to see the hustle and bustle of the city.
In this long hall were long butcher tables. We had missed the morning rush where the butchers line up to carve and hand out cuts to the morning shoppers.
I turned and was face to face with a lot of dried fish.
One day I would love to live in one of these countries. To walk a market and be able to get the freshest of fresh, to experience the different vegetables and eat local would be amazing. We walked…
On our latest scouting trip to find you the best martial arts schools in Thailand I visited Chiang Mai in north Thailand. Chiang Mai is thee largest city in north Thailand and is a city packed full of culture, beauty and of course temples, but in addition to practicing martial arts and seeing the temples maybe you’d also like to see a Muay Thai fight?
Seeing a Muay Thai fight is usually on the to-do list of everyone who visits Thailand, and Chiang Mai has three very distinct venues on offer. Most tourists will encounter touts and posters pointing them towards the two most convenient locales, where the fights may arguably be less authentic. The third place is an old stadium where local Thais go to see the fights, and it might take a little more work to get there.
First off, the cheapest fights in town can be had at the Loi Kroh Entertainment Complex with its assortment of lady and ladyboy bars surrounding the arena. It’s possible to sit at any of the bars and enjoy the fights, being solicited to tip out some of the fighters occasionally after their matches. Tipping around 20 baht is appropriate, and considerably cheaper than what it costs to see a match at the other two popular venues. Keep in mind that the fights are generally not much more than training sessions between rival schools, and the bouts are not so serious, though some nights you might catch some good action. The Loi Kroh Boxing Arena is the cheapest, most relaxed route to go, but you also get what you pay for.
Another venue that is quite convenient for visitors, but which hosts arguably more ‘real’ fights, is at the Thapae Boxing Stadium right behind Thapae Gate on Moonmuang Road. Because of its central location, fights are often fought before a well-packed crowd of mostly foreign tourists. Look for a tout on the sidewalk to point you in, or let the noise coming from the back guide you as you take the stroll down the narrow alley entrance. Admission is about 500 baht, with a higher price for VIP seats closest to the ring. This is a place where visitors who feel uneasy about the sport, or who don’t wish to go out of their way can sit in relatively familiar comfort surrounded by a good number of fellow tourists. The fights may be Thai on Thai or Thai on Westerner bout, and can be quite exciting. There is plenty of alcohol available as well, as the boxing area also contains a small grouping of bars. The celebratory atmosphere of so many young holidaymakers enjoying the fights over drinks makes this a fun venue and a good night out.
For those that are inclined to find the most ‘realistic’ fighting venue, it’s necessary to hop in a tuk-tuk and go across the river to the old Kawila Boxing Stadium. This place gets less press, is less convenient, and the fighting events are longer. The price is about 500 baht per person, with a chance to pay more for ringside seats, just as at the Thapae arena. Fights in the older and well-worn Kawila Boxing Stadium feel much more authentic than at the two tourist-drag locations. General admission bleacher seats give plenty of visibility, but the people at Kawila are also generally ok with people coming down from the stands to crowd closer to the ring. One small word of advice: As this place is the real thing, in case you do witness any gambling over the fights, it’s advisable to simply look on and not participate. Have fun, enjoy the show, and take a tuk-tuk back to your hotel or guesthouse – the Kawila Stadium is further than you think, and there’s a good chance you’ll get lost otherwise.
An opportunity for those that are daring enough to make the leap and change there lives!
I’m flying to Beijing on Jan the 15th for intensive martial arts studies.
I’m looking for 2 people to join me on this journey, if your interested read on…
I will be training with Master Lu Sheng li who is the author of quite a few martial arts books in Chinese, English and Spanish. He is one of Wang Pei Shengs (WPS) top students and was selected by WPS to travel around America to help him conduct seminars while he was alive.
Grand master WPS was considered one of the greatest Taichi masters of his time and was the last master of the last martial arts golden age. He was a master in many Chinese internal and external systems such as Bagua, Xingyi, Tongbei, Tantui and Baji. WPS comes from very impressive lineages of great masters, who passed on their skills to WPS intensely over many years from a young age.
Master WPS also wrote what is said to be one of the best books on Taichi out there. You can read about who WPS was, his life and his achievements here in this Article Titled Remembering WPS. It’s a great read for any one who loves martial arts, culture or just the back ground story of a highly accomplished individual…
The training we will under go will be under the Yin Chen Gong Fa association training methods, styles and principles. The best information available I can find in English about this group and what they train can be found on this site (ycgf.org) read the opening page, click English and scroll down, the information is quite informative and vast and will give you an idea of what you could expect if you join us and train.
The base of the training will be in Taichi but the training will be customized to each individual’s personal level to insure a proper foundation is built and a higher potential or mastery is reached in your time.
The training period is 100 days and is “everyday” for a minimum of 6 hours a day. (Ill be training a minimum 10 hours a day including Chinese language learning and theory) Master Lu’s students are movie stars, CEO’s of large companies, like the CEO of Intel and Lenova. He charges in some cases $450 an hour. Master Lu has earned a great reputation among masters with in the Beijing martial arts community and worldwide.
The 100 days of training for those who qualify to join me will be at a location Master Lu has rented in Beijing.
This is not an opportunity I would normally make public but the chosen 2 people who were aiming to come with me, now can’t make it, due to changing circumstances in there life. Everything happens for a reason, so now there is a chance for 2 lucky individuals to join us.
This will be a very transformational journey for who ever is up for the challenge.
This could also be an amazing start for a martial artist or a great way for a former martial artist to deepen their skills in real internal training and practices.
It’s short notice but I feel it’s important to put this opportunity out there. Maybe it’s a possibility for one of my friends here to join us. When I started my martial arts journey a chance like this would have been something I would have only dreamed of finding!
Master Lu has set aside this time to be committed purely to transmitting his kungfu skills and knowledge by setting up the ideal environment for us to grow and train. He has cancelled all of his commitments in this period to train other students and will be focusing purely on my self and the other students who join the group. He has rented a house that we will all live in, including master Lu for the 100-day period.
This really is a lucky opportunity and is not something you would find advertised publicly. The reason I am looking for other students to join is as follows.
1. Two spots are now available and since master Lu has put on hold all his training and teaching commitments to his other students over the 100 day period, I want to insure master Lu regains his cost for the commitment he is making, renting a house, providing food and training etc. Since the other 2 guys can’t make it there is an opportunity for 2 other students to join.
2. Although one on one is great with a master, for long term training it’s better to have others students to train with on the journey, so we can push each other, practice techniques 1000 of times to refine our skill level and discus the principles and ideas to gain a more broader perspective.
That’s my main two reasons. The last one is simply having another person in the world who gets affected by the attributes of internal martial arts training I believe sincerely and firmly, is a huge benefit to his/her family and friends and the world in general.
To qualify for this opportunity will come down to work ethic, and good character/personality. If you’re interested, send me a PM or comment below and Ill get in contact with you to arrange a call. You may also add me on Skype just msg me for my details.
I will be helping those who come advance out side in personal training time to insure we all grow together. Master Lu will be with us 6 hours a day daily and is Renowned for his attention to detail and his focus on transmitting skills to his students.
Since the date of commencement is literally right around the corner, those who can make it for a minimum of 1 week and up to 3 months may apply. Although preference will be given to those who wish to train more long term, as well as those who express a keen interest in training hard and pushing them selves to create a positive training environment. So from Jan the 15th through to April the 25th there is a chance to live and train with a world class Kungfu master.
Included in the cost is nourishing food, which is designed for the hard training and long days, accommodation and personal instruction from a world-class internal martial artist.
Below is photo of master Lu and some of my students and friends that joined me in Beijing late last year on a StudyMartialArt.Org tour.
I’m holding his recently publicised book on Wu style Taichi. (Currently in Chinese Only)
Over the 100 days there will be a focus on Wu style Taichi but also students may start to practice, Xing Yi, Bagua, Tong Bei, Baji, Qigong or Tantui depending on master Lu’s development plan. What ever the path is we will be heavily involved in the principles and philosophy, which lead to high-level practice.
This opportunity is not for the light hearted but beginners are welcome to apply. Personally I would rather people more experienced to push my self but that’s just my personal preference, Ill be pushing my self on my own to new heights with who ever joins me and I expect the same of them.
Other then the benefits of self defense, confidence, knowing one self and the spiritual attributes that arise from this style of training, that make you relaxed and cheerful. The health and longevity benefits are of the hook and have been well proven by the masters before us and explored and backed by scientific research.
Master Lu is 62 or 63 in this photo his movements are graceful, powerful and very precise in there attention to detail!
If any one would like me to elaborate in more detail about the lineage, the training, Wu style Taichi, WPS or master Lu please feel free to ask. I certainly don’t have all the answers, many I will discover on the path for my self but I have been studying all the above a couple of hours a day, most days over the past 3 months and have lived in China for many years, training martial arts full time. Since I’m investing allot of time and money I wanted to insure everything was what I truly wanted. I looked at it objectivity and tried to find faults to make sure I made the right decision. It passed my test and I’m sincerely looking forward to 100 days of intensive training with Master Lu Sheng li and training in the Yin Chen Gong Fa family!
The food, training, accommodation and the personal instruction 6 hours a day from master Lu will cost 100 USD per day which when you look at the time you get with a great master alone, it’s a pretty small asking price since we will be living with him also. This is something I did well to negotiate.
Master Lu is sincere in seeing that the Internal arts of China get passed on to dedicated practitioners, in the Yin Cheng Gong Fa association founded by WPS. They hold nothing back, there interested in the true and proper passing on of the skills and training methods as the generations have before them so the arts stay alive in full expression.
Other systems and masters do hold things back unfortunately this is why Chinese kungfu is dying or in some aspects have been lost and only held by a few, its different with the YCGF family.
Thank you for your time and tuning in!
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.
I will have my personal Site/Blog up very soon which Ill be writing in and giving updates to my progress over the 100 days training and living in Beijing.
When I return I will teach a one-week intensive seminar and open my first official martial arts school in Australia!
Best wishes for the New Year everyone and if your interested in this opportunity dive in, make it happen for your self and don’t waste time, it may never happen again!
You can check out Grand Master WPS book here which is considered one of the best books on Taichihttp://www.plumpub.com/sales/taichi/collbk_wuTC1.htm
You can read about Wu style taichi in this book also,
note that master WPS was the successor of the Northen Wu style Taichi group passed down from the founder Quan you. This book was written by WPS younger Kungfu brothers female disciple, who is a champion in her field. It gives a great introduction to the lineage, the style, the founder etc as well as other famous masters. This will give some idea on what Wu Style Taichi is about and an idea of some of the training.
Please feel free to share this if you think there is someone in your network that would be interested in joining me for this amazing training experience. Maybe you yourself are interested? if so email me at Rhynsma@gmail.com to find out more.
The oldest evidence for walking on two legs comes from one of the earliest humans known, Sahelanthropus. Walking upright may have helped this species survive in the diverse habitats near where it lived—including forests and grasslands. Today the habitat of the modern humans are urban areas and walking no-longer is matter of life and death but quality of life.
As a low impact exercise over 10,000 steps are recommend each day so its not an exercise that will help you loose pounds like running will. However, the benefits of walking can not simply be measured in weight loss or even fitness gains. Walking is much more than that. Walking is about the maintenance of overall physical and mental health. A evolutionary leap that is one of the most natural parts of our lives.
As a child our first steps are greeted with joy and as an adult our last with sadness. Walking is central to our being whether as a means of movement, a health exercise, a de-stresser, a way to clear your mind, think or connect to your own body or nature. As a result it’s a natural choice for an active meditative exercise that everyone can do.
Here’s a simple set of instructions for one form of walking meditation that focuses on connecting you to your own body and your surroundings.
1. Be aware of your posture, reduce your speed, relax and regulate your breathing with long slow deep breaths .
2. Using your five senses, listen to your surroundings and take a moment to become aware of them. Turn your attention to smells and touch, smile and explore your surroundings with wonder.
3. Become aware of your body, its movements its sway and connect to the sensation of walking. Observe how your body feels during the process of walking and enjoy these sensations for short periods of relaxed mindfulness.
So if you’re in Beijing here are my top three parks in Beijing for mindful walking: