A German Family's T'ai Chi Dream
Wang Shasha September 8, 2017Comments(0) Post Your Comment E-mail Print Save

Michael Winkler, from Berlin, Germany, has been practicing t'ai chi chuan (or taiji or taijiquan) since 2003. He is the international manager of Rizhao Daqingshan Taiji, Sports and Culture Enterprise Ltd., on Daqingshan Mountain, in Rizhao, in East China's Shandong Province. His wife, Sarah Winkler, also practices t'ai chi. "Our lineage of t'ai chi is Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method. Our master, Chen Zhonghua, is a nice and approachable person, who is willing to share and teach," Michael Winkler says.

Michael Winkler visited Daqingshan for the first time in 2010. "I used to learn t'ai chi from various teachers. But I would have preferred to have only one teacher, from whom I could learn everything. After being in Daqingshan for six weeks of intense, full-time training in 2010, I decided to stick to Master Chen's Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method only. In 2011, I invited Master Chen to hold his first t'ai chi workshop in Germany," Michael Winkler says. 

Master Chen is the 19th generation successor of Chen Style Taijiquan. He returned to Wulian, a county in Rizhao, from Canada in 2006, and he established Daqingshan to spread his style of t'ai chi.

Michael Winkler believes Master Chen is a real master. "Master Chen is a person who really lives what he teaches. He is authentic, humble and open-minded, and he is willing to share and teach. When faced with new things, he is always curious, like a kid. As one of his disciples, I feel like I am being accepted, just like a son. He is taking care of us in his own way. I feel a lot of love for him, and I think so does he," Michael Winkler says.

Michael Winkler is a freelancer teaching t'ai chi and providing services as a shiatsu (a traditional form of Japanese massage therapy) practitioner in Germany. His wife, Sarah Winkler, began practicing Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method in 2011. "Both of us focus on shiatsu and Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method. Now, we enjoy our life and work in China. In addition to t'ai chi, my wife and I are also interested in Daoism and traditional Chinese medicine," Michael Winkler says. In March 2013, their son, Lukas, was born in Rizhao.

Michael Winkler notes many Chinese rise early in the morning. "Nobody in Germany will ever get up at 5 a.m. to play table tennis or to do other fun activities before work. We see a lot people in Chinese cities doing so, and nobody in Germany will believe this. We also see a lot of very healthy, elderly people. Chinese people seem to get older in a much more healthy way, compared with those in the West," Michael Winkler says.

Although he lives in Daqingshan, Michael Winkler maintains his business in Berlin. "I have a team of shiatsu practitioners and masseuses in Berlin. I also have a small team of my most advanced students, who take over the teaching of t'ai chi in Berlin. Our future plan is to open a center for martial and healing arts in Berlin, and we will mainly offer shiatsu and Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method," Michael Winkler says.

Daqingshan has an international center for full-time training in Chen Style Taijiquan Practical Method, and also other styles of t'ai chi. Most of the foreigners who attend the center to learn and practice t'ai chi on a full-time basis attend during the summer months (from May to August). 

"There have been 20-50 foreign learners at the same time on the mountain. Everybody is free to choose whatever period of time to come. I help them in all ways. There are usually some issues in terms of communications, simply because most foreigners don't speak Chinese, and the mentality of Westerners is quite different to the Chinese," Michael Winkler says.

"That is a very interesting part of the job. You get in touch with so many different people and mentalities, which is a great opportunity to learn more about life. We also have various cultural programs on Daqingshan. Among our students there are some artists and musicians. We set up stages for them to perform here during their stay," he adds. 

Michael Winkler says one of their plans is to create an international living community — where people can live in a self-sustainable way — on Daqingshan. "We are looking for more foreign families who would like to join us to live on Daqingshan," he says. 

(Executive Editor: JIAN TONG, Women of China English Monthly March 2017 Issue)

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