For fans of tai chi , the huge wait to see it get global recognition (正式承认) may soon be over.
China has nominated (提名) tai chi to be included in the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (联合国教科文组织非物质文化遗产名录). A final decision will be made later this year, reported China Daily.
The list was introduced by UNESCO in 2008 to celebrate and protect the world’s cultural diversity. It’s hoped that tai chi will become China’s 38th entry on the list, which already includes Peking Opera and acupuncture (针灸).
But there are fears that other countries could beat China to UNESCO’s list. “Both South Korea and Japan are competing with us to get tai chi registered (注册),” said Zhang Liyong, a deputy from Henan province, during this year’s meetings of the National People’s Congress.
Tai chi, a kind of martial art (武术), has been practiced in China for centuries. It combines slow movements, deep breathing (呼吸) and meditation (冥想). Every movement in tai chi represents an important part of traditional Chinese philosophy – harmony (和谐).
太极拳是一种在中国被修习数百年的武术。它将缓慢轻柔的动作、深呼吸与冥想三者结合在一起。太极拳的一招一式，都透着中国传统哲学中的重要部分 —— 和谐。
“Tai chi is not just a traditional activity. It is deeply rooted in many areas of Chinese culture, such as medicine and aesthetics (美学),” Zhu Xianghua, 40, told China Daily. He is the son of the famous tai chi master Zhu Tiancai from the village of Chenjiagou, Henan. This is widely thought to be the birthplace of tai chi.
Although it’s popular, the idea that tai chi is for the elderly has stopped many young people practicing the ancient martial art. They think of it as a slow exercise, which is better suited for their grandparents.
“The first impression I have of tai chi is that it’s something old people do in parks,” Yin Haolong, a 29-year-old graphic designer from Beijing, told The Christian Science Monitor.
Instead, many young people are turning to the Indian practice of yoga (瑜伽), which was placed on UNESCO’s list last year. According to Chinese market research firm Daxue Consulting, about 10 million Chinese people practiced yoga in 2014, up from 4 million in 2009. Many of them do yoga to keep fit and relieve stress.
Tai chi is also a great way to keep healthy. Researchers from the American College of Rheumatology found that it can help manage several diseases.
At the same time, more efforts are being made to get young people to practice this kind of martial art. Xi’an Jiaotong University in Shaanxi province requires (要求) students to learn tai chi.
Wang Yunbing, a professor with the university’s sports center, told China Daily that tai chi is not only good physical exercise, but is also connected to ancient Chinese civilization.