Adventures in the Middle Kingdom: KungFuMagazine's Gigi and Jonathan Oh's March 2009 China Trip

By Zhao Xiaohu

At the end of March, KungFuMagazine's publisher Gigi Oh and Tiger Claw's Jonathan Oh made their annual visit to China. The trip was primarily to oversee Tiger Claw's China-based operations, but also to meet with important political figures in the Chinese martial arts. The Ohs began by meeting with the leaders of the Tianjin Taizhu Sporting Goods Co., Ltd., including President Yoon Hae Choon, CEO An Zhuyan, and General Manager An Chenghao. They worked intensively on research and development of new Tiger Claw products including a next-gen backpack that has a vented top and a chest guard holder, all packaged with a slick new style. They also looked at the new MMA rash guard fight shorts coming soon and made improvements on other existing products. From there, they travelled to Beijing

First, they met the former president of the 8th region USAWKF Bob Tang. Tang now lives in Beijing and owns a four-restaurant chain called Xingji. He has a martial arts training center, complete with a large gym, an indoor swimming pool and martial arts equipment like wooden dummies. The facility should be ready by next year.

On April Fool's Day, Gigi joined a three-person delegation from the San Francisco Bay Area while Jonathan stayed to oversee Tiger Claw production. Participating in the delegation was Dr. Daniel Weng, Dean of College of Tai Chi at the University of East-West Medicine and founder of Cardio Tai Chi, and Master Zhang Xiyi, President of International Nienshoudao Kungfu Headquarters & International Eagle Claw Federation China Provincial Reunion.

Their first stop was the Chinese Wushu Association to meet Ms. Liu Beijian, Vice President of the CWA and Chinese Wushu Research Institute, and Mr. Zheng Qiping, Deputy Chief of the International Wushu Federation and head of the foreign affairs department of the CWA. Ms. Liu was impressed by the Kung Fu Tai Chi issues that Gigi brought, saying "I have heard a lot of your magazine. Thank you so much for all your effort of promoting wushu outside China.

"Now, Chinese government is working harder than ever to try to win the bid to get wushu into the Olympics. It's not going to be short or easy. There are many obstacle need to be worked out. Wushu is a rather young sport for it's only 20 years old. Compare that to other Olympic sports that are over a century old. I think the number of wushu participating nations has met the requirement of IOC, but when IOC evaluates a sport they often look into the financial backing of the organization and the overall media coverage. Look at golf. The overall number of people who play daily is less than wushu but it dominates the TV time and the media exposure. Wushu is far behind. Golf reports on television, newspaper and magazines pull in more financial sponsors. Even though wushu has global recognition, we don't have the power of TV or other mass media."

Liu went on to say that they had just reached an agreement with the Education Bureau to add wushu into elementary and middle school curriculum. Noted wushu Professor Kang Gewu compiled the materials. "It is our goal for this year," beamed Liu, "wushu in the public school system." Liu added "Wang Xiaoling and Chairperson Yu Zhatian were in Canada last week to examine the venue and the preparation for the next World Wushu Gamers in Toronto, Canada this coming October. The people over there are passionately preparing for it."

Next, the S.F. Bay delegation went to lunch with the heads of the Chinese Health Qigong Association including Lu Shiming, Deputy Director-General and Deputy Secretary-General of CHQA, Cui Yongsheng, Chief Director of Foreign Affairs, He Xin, Office Manager, Zhang Mingliang, Chief Executive Editor of Health Qigong (a bimonthly magazine and Dr. Yang Yubin), a professor at the Beijing Physical University. There was much discussion of the 3rd International Health Qigong Tournament and Exchange to be held in Shanghai on August 10-19, 2009. They predict at least 300 competitors from 20-plus countries.

The event is slated for several activities. There will be an International Health Qigong Tournament in the four standardized qigong forms: Yijinjing, Five Animal Frolics (wuqinxi), Six Healing Sounds (liuzijue) and Eight-section Brocade (baduanjin). The event will also mark the foundation of the International Health Qigong Federation. It will be the 2nd International Health Qigong Symposium, complete with training camps in Six Healing Sounds and Twelve-section Brocade (shierduanjin). There will also be a training camp for international referees and examinations for ranking. The CHQA will sponsor half of the competitors' living and board costs during the tournament stay. For more information, visit

The CHQA is looking to introduce five more standardized qigong forms into their curriculum. First and foremost is Twelve-section Brocade, which is promoted for people who spend most of their time sitting at a desk or are wheelchair bound. The other four are still in development, including mawangdui daoyin, yangshen taiji zhang (health taiji rod), daoyin yangshen gong and da wu.

Another related project is Health Qigong, a bimonthly magazine which has been in publication since September 2004. Health Qigong's mission is to advocate scientific concepts of health preservation, promote national excellence through traditional fitness culture, enhance Health Qigong exchange, and conduct scientific and civilized Health Qigong activities for aficionados worldwide. Approved by General Administration of Press and Publication, Health Qigong is the only qigong magazine in China.

After lunch, Dr. Yang took Gigi and Dr. Weng to visit Grandmaster Sun Yongtian, the 3rd generation leader of Sun-Style Taijiquan. He is also the Vice Chairman of the Beijing Wushu Association. Sun had one of his students demonstrate the traditional 97 movements of Sun Style Taiji. "This is the original form we are showing you which not many people practice now," revealed Sun. "There are many different styles and forms out there. There are simplified 65, 16 and 13 movement forms." Sun elaborated by comparing Sun to Yang Style Taiji using "single whip," a signature move of taiji, to demonstrate. First Sun extended his left leg out into a bow stance then moved both of his hands into their position. Then, showing the Sun method, the legs and hands moved at the same time. "When one leg moves forward, the other must follow," explained Sun. "There is no still stance. Since the entire form has no still moment, it looks easy. But to master it, it's not easy. We call it jin tui xiang sui (forward, backward follows) and the speed is rather fast. Sun taiji is very agile; therefore, it's good for self defense and ready for counterattack. The other difference is our stance. We keep our body bent 135 degrees. When your knee bends 135 degrees, they are less prone to get hurt. Many taiji practitioners trying to show they have better posture by lowering their stance. But in result, they often have bad knees. Also, you can throw a faster punch and more powerfully when you keep your body at 135 degrees."

Sun is working at compiling and making new forms for the duan ranking system of the CWA and the CWRI. They have six forms and two-person sparring for the 1st to 6th duan. "In the past, Sun taiji didn't have any two-person sparring," added Sun. "Now we are trying to formulate six different forms and sparring sets. For the levels beyond 6th duan, we have no forms. That will be based upon the individual's years training in Sun taiji, their contribution to society and so on."

The trip concluded with a visit to a dear friend of Kung Fu Tai Chi, Coach Wu Bin. Coach Wu has been very supportive of our publications for years, even before we put him on our March April 2007 cover. He's still very open and receptive. As a farewell treat, Coach Wu took Gigi and Jonathan to the best hot pot restaurant in Beijing, owned by a bagua master friend, where they feasted on lamb and other delicacies. With full bellies, they returned to California offices the next day.

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July/August 2009

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Written by Zhao Xiaohu for KUNGFUMAGAZINE.COM

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