Grandmaster Ren Guangyi performed Tai Chi at United Nations

(The top feature image was photoed by Ka Wu.)

The celebration started at 6:30 p.m., but a crowd started gathering outside of the entrance of the United Nations (UN) Headquarters by the First Avenue in Manhattan, New York around 5:30 p.m. Two young female UN staff members were holding a couple-page-long roster. They carefully checked each invitee’s identity before they handed out a nametag. Since my trip to New York City was decided late and my name wasn’t put on the list in time, I had to wait for a senior staff member to come out to escort me in. Once I passed the two security checkpoints, I walked into a large UN Plaza, which has an expansive view of the sky and East River. Noticeably there were two prominent sculptures: “Sphere Within Sphere” and “Non-Violence”, a handgun with the barrel twisted in a knot. I was shaken by the strong image of “Non-Violence” and wondered whether we would ever witness peace in every corner of the world. I entered the lobby and browsed through a few displays. A security guard stopped me short when I was approaching another gate because I did not have a ticket or a nametag. Fortunately, an event organizer came to my rescue.

Non-Violence Sculpture at the United Nations Plaza

Non-Violence Sculpture at the United Nations Plaza

Founded after World War II , the UN has six official and working languages that are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. With sponsorship from the UN and China, the Chinese language has been offered to the UN staff if they want to learn. In 2010 the Department of Public Information at the UN launched “Language Days at the United Nations” for each of the six languages and designated the day of Gu Yu (穀雨) to be the Chinese Language Day to commemorate Cang Jie (倉頡), who was credited for creating the written Chinese characters on Gu Yu. Gu Yu is on March 5th of the Chinese Lunar Calendar, when the earth becomes warm and Spring rain falls to provide the elements that vegetation needs to grow. Gu Yu is also a symbol of energy, fertility and hope. This year Gu Yu fell on April 20, so the Chinese Language Day was celebrated on April 20 accordingly. In general, UNSRC Chinese Book Club organizes the yearly event.

Calligraphy written live

Calligraphy written live

This year’s theme was Chinese calligraphy, martial arts, Chinese tea making, and silk. They invited a few masters to write live in front of an audience in addition to the exhibition of famous calligrapher Pang Zhong Hua’s writings. There was a Wushu (Kung Fu) delegation from China to perform various Chinese martial arts.

Grandmaster Ren Guangyi is a 12th generation Chen Style Tai Chi (Taiji) Inheritor and most distinguished Tai Chi instructor in the West. He is best known as the teacher of the late Rock legend Lou Reed, artist and musician Laurie Anderson, digital media guru Jonathan Miller, award-winning record producer Tony Visconti, movie/music diva Bette Midler, and many other celebrities.

As usual, Grandmaster Ren delivered an awesome performance that mixed the gentle movements with explosive maneuvering. As I was memorizing his Jin勁, which was soft, coiling, uninterrupted, perfectly-timed, durable, and unbreakable, not only expressed on his fingers, hands, wrists, arms, elbows, shoulders, neck, backs, torso, hips, thighs, legs, and feet, but also in his poise and gaze, I also realized the same energy was displayed by the calligraphy masters. No wonder many Chinese Tai Chi masters remark that there are commonalities in both arts after all they both inherit the same philosophy.

(Edited by Doc Luecke.)

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