Chin Woo 100th Anniversary Celebrations, Tianjin, China, Mark Botting

Saturday 13th November 2010

It was with great excitement that the Chin Woo New Zealand contingent gathered for breakfast at 6:30 in the morning at the Xinmao Tiancai Hotel in Tianjin on the day of the much awaited Opening Ceremony of the Chin Woo and Huo Yuanjia World Martial Arts Assembly.

There were 13 of us from New Zealand, ably lead by our coach Mr George Guo, assisted by Mr Chris Cheng with club members and competitors Glenn and Jun Selwyn, Ngaroma and Rangiatea Buchanan, Jenny Ling, Woody Wang and Josh Botting and their supporters (bag carriers) Mark Botting, Peter Selwyn, Xiao Ling Tang and Derek Buchanan.

As we boarded the bus we realised that it was a perfect day for the anticipated ceremony. Although it was cold with a strong bitter wind (I think it was around 2 or 3 degrees) the weather was magnificent. Our excitement mounted as we drove through the suburbs of Tianjin in a police guided bus convoy, wondering what was ahead. On the way, coach Guo pointed out the apartment that he once lived in.

Passing through some farms on the outskirts of Tianjin, we could see a large isolated white marble building in the middle of cleared fields. This was the Huo Yuanjia Memorial Hall, a magnificent centrepiece and first stage of the Jingwumen Chinese Martial Arts Park, Xiqing District of Tianjin; and was our destination. Our jaws dropped as we drove into the complex towards this building and saw before us vast arrays of colourful troupes of martial arts performers, flag bearers, drummers, dancers, dragons, lions, swords and weapons of all descriptions all lined up on the most enormous parade ground surrounding a gigantic statue of Huo Yuanjia – the founder of Chin Woo and whose 100th Anniversary of the founding of Chin Woo we were celebrating. It was an unforgettable site which we are never likely to see in New Zealand. As we walked past this array of people to take our seats, we felt truly honoured to be part of such an organisation.
We took our places alongside contingents from other countries including Switzerland, Malaysia, Canada, USA, Hong Kong, Singapore, England, and alongside other special guests, dignitaries and officials from the Chin Woo organisation. The ceremony started with introductions and speeches from the Chair and President of Chin Woo, and then the amazing show began with displays from the thousands of people on the massive parade ground in front of us – hundreds of Wu Shu students performed followed by fabulous lion and dragon dancers and drummers.

After about an hour of performances, the ceremony reached its climax with the unveiling of the Huo Yuanjia Memorial Hall: fireworks, cannons and confetti rained down on us as we lined up for a massive group photo.

Following the ceremony we were invited to visit the temple and mausoleum complex of Huo Yuanjia Cemetery – the second large group of buildings on the site. This was also truly special following a procession of Chin Woo dignitaries, officials and pupils to pay our respects. All guests were presented with a wonderful scarf to commemorate the occasion (a welcome relief because of the bitterly cold wind!).

After lunch we were given the grand tour of the main memorial building, which is a large museum dedicated to Chin Woo International and Wu Shu – showing the history and culture of the organisation of which we are part. We found our small NZ corner of this large world represented in the International hall. The centrepiece of the Memorial Hall and Museum is a gigantic carved marble column – at least 5 stories tall.

The numbers are staggering. We learnt that the complex we were at is the first stage of the construction of a 300 acre Chin Woo Chinese Martial Arts Park dedicated to the teaching of traditional martial arts and culture. The buildings that were inaugurated today had cost something like $1 billion, and the further stages to come will cost another billion dollars. The mind boggles – and our students on the tour vowed to come back to attend the school at some stage in the future.

What an exciting day – but it wasn’t over yet. After a banquet dinner we were further honoured to attend a magnificent show at the Tianjin Grand Theatre. With over 1000 people in the audience, and (apparently) at the cost of $1 Million dollars to put on, we were all treated to a sensational set of performances by traditional Chinese artists, poets, opera singers, musicians and dancers all with a martial arts theme – interlaced with speeches and awards for the Chin Woo representatives from around the world. A truly amazing spectacle. After such an awe-inspiring day, and after such a lot of travel to get there, we were all very tired so went to bed early, knowing there would be more celebrations and banquets to come the next day. But that’s another story.


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