Tai Chi ∙ Beijing, Exchanging Exercise
The event attracted more than 600 Tai Chi enthusiasts from all over the world, showing a combination of fitness and international communications.
When the “Taiji ∙ Beijing — 2017 Beijing International Healthbuilding Exchange” took place from June 20 to 22, 2017, it attracted immense number of Tai Chi fitness enthusiasts from France, Belgium, Hungary, Australia, Mexico, Japan, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Brunei, Nepal, Macau and other places around China, more than 600 in all. This oppurtunity shows a combination of fitness and international communications and to promote friendly exchanges among the people from all over the world.
Healthy Tai Chi
The sponsors of this exchange were the Beijing People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, Foreign Affairs Office of the People's Government of Beijing Municipality, Information Office of the People's Government of Beijing Municipality, Beijing Sports Federation, Beijing Sport University, and Changping District People's Government. Its theme was “Healthy Tai Chi” and it had four parts: professional Taiji, people's Tai Chi, Great Wall Tai Chi, and Tai Chi among flowers, which covered shadowboxing, Tai Chi softball (rouliqiu), fan Tai Chi, hand-pushing Tai Chi, health-building qigong (deep breathing exercises), intangible cultural heritage sports, and folkloric exercises.
There was a brief opening ceremony after which some Chinese and foreign participants put on softball, shadowboxing, fan Tai Chi, qigong, and
martial arts performances, with both novices and professionals focusing on natural, gentle or tough movements, enchanting the audience.
One key exchange event was “Healthbuilding under the Blue Sky”, where Chinese and foreign enthusiasts did Taiji exercises together on the Juyongguan Great Wall and in the Purple Valley Eden. Then there was the “Face to Face with Masters” event with a well-known Chinese hand-pushing Taiji master and a softball coach to give on-the-spot instructions. For the “People's Taiji,” a delegation of overseas health enthusiasts shared their experiences with local people at gymnasiums in the Xicheng District and, for the “Taiji Party for People from All over the World” there was a traditional get-together, with Chinese and foreign participants exchanging ideas with each other.
Chinese Martial Arts’ Long History
Tai Chi's origin goes back to the classical Book of Changes and for centuries, its theory has been passed down and mixed with traditional Chinese culture and philosophy. Then in May 2006, taijiquan
( shadowboxing) was added to China's first state- level intangible cultural heritage list. As a symbol of traditional Chinese culture, Tai Chi has spread to more than 150 countries and regions and there are reported to be more than 250 million people practising it all over the globe, making it the martial art with the most practitioners.
Qigong also has a long history, as archaeological findings show, for example pottery dating back to about 5,000 years unearthed in Qinghai Province showing coloured figures doing qigong. Also, the Book of Documents in the Han Dynasty (206 BC–AD 220) records instances of qigong. Historical relics from the Mawangdui Han Tombs in Hunan Province also mention qigong. It has been popular for hundreds of years with the public, especially middle- aged and elderly people, thanks to its simple, easy movements and Tai Chi healthy effects. It is said that qigong plays a positive role in preventing diseases, keeping fit and prolonging life.
The recent sport of Taiji softball combines traditional Taiji with modern ball games and has become a popular form of entertainment suitable for people of all ages. It made its debut in 1991 and has been promoted around the world, and has been welcomed by Chinese and foreign sports players, including the disabled. In 1994, China's State Education Commission ( Ministry of Education) recognised it as a sport and in 2000, the Chinese Veteran's Sports Federation recognised it and began hosting a national contest every year. These days, there are more than two million people playing it around China and a complete system has taken shape for softball, and this unique sport is expected to gain more traction in the future.
Two Brands in One
When the Beijing People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries combined the “Beijing International Taijiquan Exchange” and “Beijing International Taiji Rouliqiu Exchange” in 2016, it changed their name to the “Taiji ∙ Beijing— Beijing International Health- building Exchange.” The two had been held three times in Beijing during 2010– 2015. The first event of 2016 attracted more than 500 Taiji fans from China, France, Belgium, Japan and Sri Lanka to its performances and discussions. The two events gained widespread international influence and attracted foreigners. This healthy sport promotes friendly exchanges among people from Beijing and countries all over the world.
In all these areas, Beijing is currently holding frequent exchanges with connections overseas, and friends from around the world are growing more curious about traditional Chinese cultures, especially variations of Tai Chi. The Taiji ∙ Beijing— 2017 Beijing International Health- building Exchange had made Tai Chi a sortof calling card for Beijing, one that promotes mutual understanding all over the world and one that helps build Beijing into the country's international exchange centre.