Saturday 26th November was a momentous day for the Taiji Industry globally. It saw the beginning of a new era in Taiji advancement and growth with the 1st Forum on Industry Development for World Taiji Clubs hosted by Beijing Sport University. It was also a momentous day for JinLi Wushu-Tai Chi as our own Shifu Tara Brayshaw was invited to be the Keynote Speaker, presenting to school owners across the world via teleconferencing, and being beamed into 9 auditoriums throughout China.
As we know, Taiji is rooted in Traditional Chinese Culture, and in 2006 was granted status on the Intangible Cultural Heritage List by the People’s Republic of China. In 2020 it was inscribed into the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Following on from this, the Chinese Government said that this traditional sport should be a sport for all, encouraging it’s “industrialisation and modernisation” for the 21st Century and beyond. Tai Chi must be seen not only as a sport but an activity for health and for culture.
In 2008, Tai Chi was promoted for sport, tourism and elderly care in China, but by 2019 the focus shifted to “quality development” of the sport, cultural and health aspects. This new era has seen a Wushu Development Plan with the following strategies:
-Create programs and initiatives to get ordinary people to participate in the art
-Further international communication and development of Wushu
-Encourage organisations to promote the art rather than rely on individuals
The implementation of these plans will see the use of 21st Century technology to promote the industry and the arts. It may be possible in another few years for people to visit Wudang, Shaolin and Emei virtually, thereby enabling more and more people to train and study at these culturally rich locations… people who would otherwise be denied the opportunity.
Furthermore, while the pandemic has seen us all resort to Zoom, VooV, Teams and other teleconferencing platforms to conduct classes, and use YouTube, YouKu, Tencent etc. for competition videos, it is hoped that an international platform will be created specifically for Wushu. This new platform will integrate Wushu health, education, tourism, competition and culture together. Having all of this within the one system will hopefully open Wushu up to a whole new audience.
However, all of these incredible opportunities to develop the arts across health, sport and culture mean that we all need to work together. To open up communication between schools, clubs and sport universities across the world, and the First International Forum was the start of that dialogue.
When asked about the Forum, Tara said “I was so deeply humbled and honoured to be invited to give the Keynote Speech for this great moment in Wushu history. Being able to look positively toward the future with people from all around the world was breathtaking. The amount of collective knowledge and passion that was shared throughout the day made me see that our art will not only continue to survive but will flourish in the coming years. We all walked away with so much to think about and plan for, not to mention making new friends in China and across the globe.”
Taiji has been an evolving art since its inception so it’s no surprise that it is continuing its evolution in the 21st Century. The main thing we all need to acknowledge is that lineage holders cannot carry that burden alone. We all need to take responsibility and create a universal lineage of the art to ensure its survival.