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Taiji master shows off his skill, artistry

ONE of China's top martial art masters began performing and teaching authentic taiji boxing to visitors during Henan Province Culture Week.

The 61-year-old Chen Zhenglei, the 11th successor of the world's most-learned style of taiji boxing, will spar with his disciples, incuding an American and a Russian, as well as teach Expo visitors some basic taiji movements that are said to improve people's health.

Taiji boxing, which originated in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), can effectively improve a person's health after practicing it for some time because it involves many Chinese traditional medicine theories, said Chen.

Chen, who is also known as Taiji King Kong, is listed as one of the 10 most skilled kung fu masters in China.

He said the Expo is an opportunity to promote the martial art and welcomed visitors to watch and learn.

He will perform daily this week with 16 of his students at 10:40am and 4pm on Baosteel Stage.

American Chad Billiris, 29, studied with Chen for six years and said taiji boxing made him live healthier and gave him more energy.

Billiris, an English teacher, came to China specifically to study with Chen after he saw one of his videos.

Meanwhile, 30 monks from Henan's Shaolin Temple, known as the home of Chinese martial arts, will perform "iron skin" kung fu this week. "Iron skin" refers to a monk stretching himself out on five sharp spears ¨? two against his chest, one on each leg and one on his stomach.

Chen said the taiji boxers may "fight" the Shaolin monks as an exchange between the two schools of martial arts.

Jia Jinyan, the leader of the Shaolin kung fu monks, said he had no confidence that they could defeat Chen's taiji because even though it is slow and graceful, it contains hidden power.

The province's culture week is scheduled to end on Saturday.


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