By Tim Gruver
Northwest Asian Weekly
Founded by Master Chang Wu-Na and Dr. Mei-hui-Lu in 2006, the Wudang Internal Arts Academy has instructed students in the Chinese martial arts, while promoting physical fitness and self-defense. Since its inception, the academy has taught students young and old alike from across the United States, Canada, and China, and continues to participate in martial arts competitions, demonstrations, and cultural exchanges on the local and national level.
The academy has since relocated to a new compound at 2411 S. Walker St. in Seattle. It reopened on Aug. 13 and includes a courtyard and larger practice rooms.
The academy’s opening ceremony began with a number of Daoist rituals which included singing, chanting sutras, and performing ceremonial dances accompanied by musical instruments to clean the energy of the space, seek inner peace, and to praise the strength and beauty of nature. These rituals were followed by a traditional lion dance performed by students from five external martial art school students to pray for prosperity and success.
The two events were followed by several short addresses by the academy’s sifus, or martial arts masters, in addition to honored guests from the greater Seattle area and as far east as Issaquah. The ceremony concluded with several demonstrations of the school’s martial art styles performed by chief instructors and a number of their students.
At Wudang, martial arts provide not only a means of self-defense, but can also promote a state of well-being for their practitioner. “Martial arts don’t always involve getting into physical fights,” said Rick Ching, president of the Washington Chinese Cultural Association and guest at the ceremony. “But sometimes it means fighting battles in our minds.”
The academy teaches a variety of styles within the Wudang martial arts system, including the martial arts systems of Xingyiquan, Baguazhang, and Taijiquan, along with Wudang Sword. The name Wudang is derived from the Wudang mountains in China. In most cases, several lineages are taught of the same system because of Master Chang and Dr. Lu’s vast experience in their field.
Eight Chinese symbols adorn the walls of the Wudang Academy: He (harmony), yong (courage), ren (compassion), zhi (wisdom), heng (perseverance), zhong (loyalty), jing (respect), and qian (humility). It is these principles that students and instructors live by at the academy, in accordance to Daoist principles of harmony and respect for life.
“No matter how hard we work, we must have support if we are to share our traditions and culture,” Lu said. “From martial arts training, we learn to be humble, patient, perseverant, respectful, disciplined, brave, compassionate and how to get along with ourselves and others.”
Daoist philosophy values the balance between the development of physical strength as well as calming the mind and relaxing the body. According to Lu, Daoism can be practiced as a philosophy as much as a religion.
“The basic tenets [of Daoism] are seeking void and tranquil mindset, using non-action to deal with troubling situations, keeping your mind and heart clear and quiet,” Lu said. “In addition, trying to be as soft as water and follow the nature of everything instead of confronting against it.”
Daoists worship many gods, goddesses, and immortals. They were transformed from people who made tremendous contributions to the human society, according to traditions of the late Han Dynasty of ancient China. The academy, however, encourages its students to retain their own religious and cultural traditions as well.
Lu believes that martial art practitioners can find a whole new meaning in the martial arts as a way of life.
“Once you find the feeling, [the martial arts] becomes a part of you,” Lu said. “You will never want to give up on it!”
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