Feature: Traditional medicine, martial arts - two giants of Chinese culture

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-10 11:02:50|Editor: An
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BEIJING, May 9 (Xinhua) -- It is mid-June, and the temperature has reached 40 degrees Celsius on the outskirts of Samarkand, an ancient city in Uzbekistan, where an archaeological team composed of Chinese and Uzbek archaeologists is busy excavating a large tomb of the ancient Yuezhi people.

"The development and prosperity of the ancient Silk Road started with the Yuezhi, an ancient nomadic people in China," said Wang Jianxin, leader of the archaeological team and a professor from China's Northwest University in the city of Xi'an.

Caravans along the ancient Silk Road carried China-made silk, tea and porcelain westward, and brought back while pepper, carrots and horses.

Like the ancient road that had brought change, the modern Belt and Road will play an important role in facilitating opportunities for both Chinese and non-Chinese alike, as well as helping the outside world understand and enjoy the charm of Chinese culture.

Instead of silk and tea, today Chinese traditional medicine, martial arts and language have now become the country's most valuable cultural treasures in the eyes of many.


Peru has embraced Chinese culture ever more as the two countries have developed their economic, trade and social ties in the last decade.

Chinese traditions such as martial arts and acupuncture are popular with Peruvians and act as windows to a distant culture.

Master Juan Vasquez, 63, has travelled to China over 20 times, with each trip furthering his study of Tai Chi.

Vasquez has been training in diverse martial arts since he was 17 but Tai Chi has been his favorite, because he thinks it has "more complete and deeper" cultural and philosophical connotations than other kinds of martial arts.

In 1992, Vasquez met the great Chinese master Chen Zhengfei, the 11th generation master of Chen-style Tai Chi, and became his disciple.

For many years, Vasquez spent one month per year in China's Henan Province to study Tai Chi with Chen.

After practicing four hours per day for over 40 years, Vasquez has gained international renown. He has been crowned a Peruvian champion multiple times.

Since 1994, Vasquez has taught Chen-style Tai Chi in Lima and has gathered over 100 disciples, ranging from children under the age of 10 to seniors over 80.

Among them, Marleni Calcina has been training for 13 years. She said after "feeling great stress" at work and in her life, it was Tai Chi that taught her the value of "going slowly".

"My transformation began with Tai Chi, which helped me gain peace and inner harmony," Calcina said. "For me now, practicing Tai Chi is like speaking with my soul."


Suheir Subhi finally got some relief from her chronic shoulder and neck pain, thanks to help originated thousands of miles away and dating back many centuries.

Subhi, a 40-year-old advertising professional who commutes daily to and from work, is one of the patients receiving care from Ousama Habiballah, the first and only Palestinian in the West Bank city of Ramallah to have had formal training in traditional Chinese medicine.

For almost two months, Dr. Habiballah has been providing Subhi with weekly 40-minute sessions of acupuncture, cupping and therapeutic massage at his one-room practice within an alternative medicine clinic inside an office tower in downtown Ramallah.

The combination treatment helps stimulate blood circulation and the flow of "qi," or vital energy, and restore balance in the body, thereby reducing pain and fatigue, Habiballah said, applying heated cupping and acupuncture on Subhi.

"I feel more relaxed and feel the tension greatly reduced. The muscles are more relaxed; the shoulders are more relaxed; the neck is more flexible," Subhi said after the procedures. "There's a big difference."

Habiballah, in his early 30s, graduated from the University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Beijing in 2011. He takes an average of six patients a day at his practice, which has been in business for almost three years.

Sometimes he travels to East Jerusalem to work at a clinic dedicated to traditional medicine.

Habiballah said his dream is to open a comprehensive center in the West Bank for Chinese philosophy and medicine.

"I think that this center can promote the Chinese methods of therapy to heal problems," Habiballah said. "It can be a center for healthy people as well, offering courses in martial arts, de-stressing techniques and even herbal remedies."


For 87-year-old Peruvian sinologist Guillermo Danino, the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative means stronger cultural and humanitarian ties between China and Latin America.

Professor Danino, who has made it his lifelong mission to introduce Chinese culture to the Latin American people, has created courses in four of the most prominent universities in Peru, stoking his students' passion for China studies.

Danino's love affair with Chinese culture started more than thirty years ago. As a professor of literature and linguistics at Peru's National University of San Marcos, Danino was invited at that time by the Chinese government to teach Spanish grammar and other subjects to the teachers at Nanjing University in Jiangsu Province.

Yet for Danino, who has even acted in Chinese films, the hobby that changed his life involved translating ancient Chinese poetry, which also became his most celebrated feat in introducing Chinese culture to the Spanish-speaking world.

He first became interested in Chinese poetry when he was given the book, "100 poems from the Tang Dynasty," a selection of famous pieces created during the golden age of ancient Chinese poetry.

The translation, published in 1996, became the first collection of Tang-Dynasty poetry directly translated from Chinese into Spanish in Latin America.

Unsatisfied, Danino made forays into Chinese history, ancient essays and folk stories, and wrote about his daily experiences in China.

Altogether, the Peruvian professor published more than 20 Spanish-language books on China, including nine translations of classical Chinese poetry.

Aimed at helping Spanish-speaking audiences understand the Asian giant, Danino's "most important work so far" as he called it is the "Encyclopedia of Chinese Culture" which was published in 2013 and contains more than 600 entries about China's history, culture, religion and important figures.

In an article published in local Chinese media in Peru, Danino called on Chinese people to study traditional culture and introduce its core values to the Western world.

"As a native Peruvian, I would like to tell you, hundreds and thousands of Chinese descendants and overseas Chinese, be proud of your culture and your motherland! Please don't stop learning, promoting and spreading Chinese culture. In this way, you will make a greater contribution to Peru and the world."