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|Tombstone rediscovers its Chinatown|
|Written by Annie Chandler|
|Wednesday, 15 September 2010 18:45|
The O.K. Corral opened its doors to a new set of performers on the first day of Rendezvous of the Gunfughters Labor Day weekend. The White Crane Kung Fu group was more interested in leaving behind their “qi” or energy flow, than a cloud of gun smoke.
Tombstone had a Chinatown of its very own once upon a time, and this small district was called Hoptown in the 1880s. Saturday was a historic day for Tombstone, as members of the White Crane reunited Tombstone with its Chinese roots.
Ben Traywick, Tombstone historian, invited the kung fu and martial arts group because he intends to “always make sure the Chinese are in our [Tombstone’s] history.”
The group started its day off by demonstrating the traditional Chinese lion dance down Allen Street. Two people maneuvered each costume, one operating the ornate lion head while the second person wagged the lion’s tail.
Tourists and locals lined the old west road as they admired the curious juxtaposition of this ceremonial Chinese dance and the rugged, gun-slinger backdrop. Three lions confidently swerved from left to right, engaging both sides of Allen Street in their performance.
Corey Walker, a student of the White Crane, had the insider’s perspective of the lion dance, as he was in charge of the hindquarters of the fiery, red lion costume.
“It was cool to interact with people [in that way],” Walker said. “It seemed like everyone enjoyed it but then again, I couldn’t really see anything.”
The White Crane performers next ventured into the O.K. Corral where they demonstrated martial arts such as kung fu, tai chi, and weapon work. Much of the performance was narrated by the sometimes steady, sometimes suspenseful, beat of a drum. The musical edge of the White Crane’s performance was not given much attention, but the effect of the performance relied heavily on the accompanying beat.
Instructor Lam’s wife, Laura, got involved with music slowly. She played solely cymbals for a few years and then jumped into drumming, which she has worked at for the past two and a half years.
“Every school has a different style,” Lam said of the music of the martial arts. “I am still finding ours.”
Style is something the White Crane Sport Association prides itself in. Master Ruhu Zhu was the founder of the White Crane. Zhu knew of only one other school, outside of China, that taught the same particular discipline of kung fu. White Crane Kung Fu is a dangerous, seldom-taught form of kung fu, which can be very destructive. Zhu passed away in April, but instructors Lam and Richard Garrison, are keeping his White Crane legacy alive.
Lam was first attracted to Master Ruhu Zhu because of his ability to heal.
“Many can hurt, few can heal,” Lam said about martial arts instructors. “My mom had a lot of headaches and I wanted to learn how to help her.”
Thanks to Zhu, Lam can melt away bruises with a hard-boiled egg and ease cramps by hitting certain pressure points on the legs.
Walker, a new student of Lam’s, has always been interested in martial arts, but did not get into it for the same reasons as his seasoned teacher. He took up kung fu to learn self defense and to spice up his workout regimen.
“It is better than joining a gym,” Walked said.
“White Crane teaches more than just karate. You learn about breathing, fighting, culture…all martial arts come from kung fu. It’s the whole cultural package,” Walker added.
During the performance at O.K. Corral, Instructor Lam spoke about the more profound side of martial arts.
Lam walked the crowd through a series of 10 different types of hand clapping. After the exercise the sensation felt between your hands is similar to that of two positive magnets being forced together. This tingly energy felt between your palms is what Lam referred to as “qi”- pronounced “chi.”
To put your dream in motion, Lam says you need to first be able to feel the atmosphere around you.
“People cannot feel the air above them sometimes,” Lam said. White Crane Kung Fu makes the air thick enough to feel.