NEW YORK—This weekend, the Athletics and Recreation Center of Baruch College in New York City is host to the second annual International Chinese Traditional Martial Arts Competition. Hosted by New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV), the competition is the pinnacle in the search for, and revival of, traditional Chinese martial arts.
Martial arts, called “wu” in Chinese, is pronounced the same as the word for “dance.” The two are interrelated. While dance is used to praise the gods and ancestors, martial arts is used to stop evil, according to the competition's head judge, Li Youfu. “Martial arts is not for inflicting hurt, but for protecting good people,” he said.
In addition to its mission to rediscover ancient martial arts, the competition also serves as a global platform for masters and students to share their experiences and grow together.
Many contestants this year are repeat participants. Li Peiyun of New Jersey, the gold medalist from last year’s weapons category, came back—not primarily to earn another award, but for the learning. He said that he and the other contestants spend a considerable amount of time sharing stories about their art. “We learn from the elderly and give guidance to the young,” he said about the atmosphere among contestants. “It's about virtue.”
History of Martial Arts & the 2009 International Traditional Chinese Martial Arts Competition
Li worked with a nine-section whip (also called a chain whip) in Saturday's preliminary round. “It's a soft weapon, easy to transport; but once it's out, it's as hard as a metal pole,” he said. “The ancients used to wear them as belts.”
Li and quite a few other contestants said that to excel in martial arts, one must respect tradition and value virtue.
Contestant Zhang Xiaobin performed the Tong Bei style, a style of the competition's fist category. The name of the style is derived from the saying “Well-versed in literature and prepared for battle,” a reflection of the ancient Chinese ideal of being well-rounded. “If you study the arts and literature well, your martial arts will reach a higher standard because if they aren't learned, you could easily become inclined to use martial arts for evil,” Zhang said.
Zhang was drawn to this competition because he appreciates NTDTV's goal of tracing arts to their origins.
“Traditional martial arts is the simplest and most essential. It is experience obtained at the price of lives lost on the battlefield. It is not something for performance,” he said.
The world of Chinese martial arts is broad and intricate with 5,000 years of history. The art is divided between internal and external styles. Stemming from a Taoist tradition, internal styles emphasize inner development and cultivation; external styles train from the outside in.
The top three winners (gold, silver, and bronze) in each category of fist, Southern fist, and weapon will receive swords handcrafted by renowned Taiwanese swordsmith Chen Shih-Tsung.
The gold-winner's sword is titanium—designed as a re-creation of a legendary 300 A.D. sword. The material is such that when seasoned, it shines with seven colors. Chen gave a demonstration of one of his swords. “The ideal sword can bend to a 70 degree angle and snap back without warping,” he explained.
“And it should be non-porous.” He demonstrated by placing a drop of water on the blade, and showing it slide down and fall off the tip in one complete bubble. If the sword's surface were more porous, or had irregularities, the droplet would change shape, and the sword would become susceptible to rust.
An Epoch Times exclusive about the swordsmith is at http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/17164/.
Tickets for the semi final and final rounds on Sunday are available at the door. More information at www.martialarts.ntdtv.com/en