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Int'l conference in China's Wudang Mountains promotes Tai Chi
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Int'l conference in China's Wudang Mountains promotes Tai Chi

The World Conference on Wudang Tai Chi opened on Oct. 23 at the foot of Wudang Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in central China's Hubei Province.

Over 2,000 participants from 33 countries and regions gathered in the Wudang Mountain Tourist and Economic Special Zone, Shiyan City for the conference, which aims to promote Chinese traditional culture and exchanges between civilizations.

The conference runs through Oct. 25 and major events include an international Tai Chi competition, a forum on Tai Chi culture, a youth arts festival, a cultural heritage exploration, and health consultations by traditional Chinese medicine experts.

An opening ceremony, featuring traditional Taoist music, international video connections, and a mass Tai Chi demonstration, was held at the Yuxu Palace, one of the largest monasteries among the Wudang architectural complex. This showcased the historical significance and profound influence of Wudang Tai Chi culture to on-site and online audiences.

For centuries, the Wudang Mountains have been known as an important center of Taoism, especially famous for its Taoist versions of martial arts or Tai Chi. The ancient palaces and temples here represent the highest standards of Chinese art and architecture over a period of nearly 1,000 years.

"Over 500 million people from 150 countries and regions practice Tai Chi, and about 30,000 foreigners visit Wudang annually for Tai Chi studies," said Wang Zhonglin, Governor of Hubei Province, in his opening speech. He mentioned that the Tai Chi culture, originating in Wudang, advocates the philosophical concept of harmony between nature and man, conveying the ideas of benevolence and inclusivity. He expressed the commitment to build Wudang Mountains into a global center for Tai Chi culture and a world-class tourist destination.

The Wudang Tai Chi International Fellowship Competition kicked off on Sunday, divided into five age groups: children, youth, young adults, middle-aged adults, and seniors. A total of 1,503 athletes registered, including 128 from overseas.

"I'm where I'm meant to be. I feel more at home in China than in England," said Benjamin Lucas, who would take part in the competition after a five-month training in a local martial arts school. The 32-year-old mentioned that he had practiced Tai Chi for five years and that Taoism, traditional Chinese music, and tea were also his interests.

Eli Roovers of the Netherlands visited Wudang Mountains twice to learn Tai Chi, Taoist philosophy, and guqin, a plucked seven-string Chinese musical instrument. He found the most appealing thing about Chinese culture to be "the fact that the older elements of the culture are still very much kept alive today and honored, and it is not just something you read about, but something that I see being put into practice."

Having spent nine months in total in Wudang, the 45-year-old Dutch believed that Tai Chi and the philosophy behind it have changed his life.

XinhuaGu Yetao

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