Liu Huibin, a 45-year-old Chinese American, has practiced Ba Duan Jin, or Eight Steps of Brocade, a Chinese classic exercise sets, to ease up after long hours of working at a local restaurant.
When Liu, who learned routines of the exercise set only through books and DVDs, read that a team of health qigong masters from China would have a performance in New York, he jumped on the opportunity.
Liu was one of about 100 people from the greater New York area who were lucky enough to get a chance to meet a delegation from the Chinese Health Qigong Association Saturday. More than 200 had signed up for the event at the Asian Cultural Center in Manhattan.
After a brief introduction of the delegates and a short videotape about the development of health qigong in China and around the world, the masters went directly to the act.
As the performance proceeded, many in the audience started following the movements of the masters, including Professor Hu Xiaofei, who tutors graduate students at Beijing Sports University majoring in sports health preservation, and Yang Yubing, who has a doctorate in traditional ethnic sports.
As time went by, almost all the audience joined the action, with chairs folded up and moved to the side.
Spiros Mantzakos, who runs a foods company in Astoria, New York, found the delegation's demonstration somewhat different from what was taught at the Wu Tang Chinese Martial Arts Center in Flushing, New York.
Mantzakos goes to Wu Tang twice a week to learn Kung Fu and Tai Chi to keep fit. In the 21st century, health is ever more important.
"It's your temple," Mantzakos said.
The pursuit for fitness, both physical and mental, had much resonance in the room, where one could spot many couples and a child who came with her grandparents.
David A. Blau, at 53 but looks much younger, knows very well the benefits of exercising the Chinese way.
Blau, who leads a company in Paramus, New Jersey, which provides supply chain services, used to live in Beijing and practice Tai Chi in the morning at community parks together with local senior citizens.
He still practices the routines whenever possible, Blau said.
After a demonstration of Yi Jin Jing, or Channel-Changing Scripture, Wu Qin Xi, or Frolics of Five Animals that feature routines mimicking tigers, deer, bears, monkeys and birds, and Liu Zi Jue, a six-part exercise set that combines breathing control and body movements, the masters started to show Eight Steps of Brocade, Liu's favorite part.
Liu, a native of China's Shandong Province who came to the United States nine years ago, said he will continue exercise in between his long working hours at the restaurant, hoping he will have more chances to learn from the professionals.
And that is exactly what the delegation, and the Chinese Health Qigong Association, have been and will keep doing – to help more people around the world understand and learn the Chinese cultural gem.
After New York, the delegation will visit Boston, Baltimore, and Washington D.C.
Since 2006, the association has held three rounds of overseas promotion tours, reaching more than 50,000 people in nearly 30 countries, and over 10,000 have begun to practice health qigong. It has also deployed trainers in 29 countries.
A total of 36 promotion events are planned for 2008.
(Xinhua News Agency February 4, 2008)