Thursday, August 6, 2020

Wudang Martial Arts Daoist Master Guo Gaoyi

Wudang Martial Arts Daoist Master Guo Gaoyi

"A very rare video of taoist master Guo Gaoyi demonstrating part of Wudang Taiyi Xuanmen (Taoist) Sword. Guo Gaoyi (1924-1996) was the first head coach of martial arts in Zixiao Palace, one of the main taoist temples in Wudang mountains, between 1983 and 1989. 

Born in Shangqiu in Henan province, Guo studied Shaolin styles since childhood. During the anti-Japanese war in 1930 he traveled to north-eastern China where he learnt sword and Taijiquan from Yang Kuishan, a disciple of general Li Jinglin. After his batalion was defeated Guo retreated to the temples in Lüshan in Liaoning province, where he was initiated as a taoist monk. This is where he learnt Wudang Sanfeng martial arts from master Yang Mingzhen. Not much is known about Guo's whereabouts until early 1980s - only that during the Cultural Revolution is was forced to become a layman and return to his hometown - and could "return to Tao" only in 1981. He became a monk again, living in the temples on the White Could Mountain in Biyang County in Henan, where he studied martial arts from Tang Chongliang. Tang studied martial arts Wudang Mountains from Wang Xintang, a taoist master of the Eight Immortals Temple, but also received guidance from famous Wudang abbot Xu Benshan.

When his master passed away in 1983 Guo left White Cloud Mountain and moved to Wudang. In 1984 he became the head coach of the taoist martial arts academy at Zixiao Palace. In 1989 Guo left Wudang and in 1990 retreated to Shennongjia to practice meditation. In 1993 he moved to Nine Palaces Mountain, where he passed away in 1996. Guo was one of my taoist inspirations - the photos of him demonstrating swordplay featured in "Pictorial China" in mid-1980s were one of the reasons that set me on the path and travel to China. Unfortunately when I entered the gate of Zixiao temple in July 1991, Guo was already Shennongjia, in the area the foreigners were not allowed to enter. This part of my China dream has never become a reality and I never managed to meet him." - Jarek Szymanski 

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