Thursday, July 30, 2020

Taoist master from Laoshan Mountains - Kuang Changxiu

Taoist master from Laoshan Mountains - Kuang Changxiu

"Laoshan Mountains have a special status in China - well known for a story about a young taoist apprentice who seeked advice and wanted to learn the art of walking through walls, a story recorded by Pu Songling in his famous '"Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio". The master in the story was a taoist in Laoshan mountains, and the book itself was written there as well. Master Kuang Changxiu (1905-1993) was such master - a legend in the 1980s already, not only because of his skills in the Taoist art of internal alchemy but most of all in martial arts. 

Born in 1905, he studied many Shaolin related local Shandong styles since childhood. At the age of 26 he became a taoist monk of the Jinshan (Golden Mountain) branch of the Complete Reality School. Since then he studied taoist meditation methods, medicine and martial arts from Kuang Zhenjue, his uncle, a taoist master and a disciple of Li Shiqing, a teacher of Wudang system. He referred to the martial arts system as Laoshan school of Wudang Boxing; it focused on kicking techniques which Master Kuang excelled at and hence was nicknamed nicknamed "Kuang the Flying Legs". His internal skills were also legendary - he could spend a week without food and sleep, in the state of deep meditation. Master Kuang was also a famous doctor, and worked as a physician when forced to becoming a layman during the Cultural Revolution. He wrote many books - on medicine, martial arts, Qigong/meditation - as well as novels and stories. I was lucky to meet Master Kuang in July 1991, stay overnight in Laoshan's Taiqing Palace, and watch the impressive demonstrations of martial arts. The system seemed very authentic and the skills very impressive; it was not a random collection of routines as is the case of Wudang, but a well organized system. I wonder who carries the tradition now, apparently Master Kuang taught many disciples. 

The video is a part from the 1984 BBC documentary series "The Heart of The Dragon" called "Believing", one of the best productions showing real China in early 1980s, second only to earlier Antonioni's work." - Jarek Szymanski

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