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Good Friends and Warm Hearts
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Grandpa with Master Yang's Godson
 
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Master Yang with Beijing Cousins 
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  Kelly, a Wushu Champion, and Grandpa Pose In Qingdao Tournament
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A New Friend on the Train to Shanghai 
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 Grandpa with the Youngest Store Clerk in Huang Shan 
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Glowing Faces of Rita, Wu Bin, and Scott 
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Preparing for the Group Picture with Wu Bin 
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Weiping: The Pillar of Jinan 
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Our Breakfast Buddy in Nanjing
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Mr. Yu: Tour Guide and Martial Artist in hi own Right 
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Andy and Master Yang's Sister Barmen Greet Us Upon Arrival from China 
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Master Yang Xiao-dong Relaxing in Huang Shan 

Pictures and videos help capture the landscape of China but what remains in the heart are the relationships between people of different cultures and values. Master Yangís father had been absent from China for 47 years. Unknown to him, some of his family had survived the Japanese invasion of China. In 1998, he rediscovered his last sister, residing in Jinan, among nephews, nieces and cousins. Grandpa had not seen his sister since he was seventeen and a new web of relationships was reestablished. We, in turn, have immensely benefited from this rebirth of sorts. For in many ways, being a part of the Wu Tang Center makes us a part of their family.

Wei Ping, Grandpaís nephew, was responsible for organizing and filming our entire "unofficial" tour of Northern China. Because of these family ties, we got to experience and see parts of China very few Westerners would ever have access to. Aside from his enormous power and strength, he has a very kind and generous heart. He is truly an inexhaustible source of strength, knowledge, and wisdom, especially with regard to traditional Chinese medicine and computers. He is Chinaís best.

Master Ma Marlon, although living in New York, has family ties in Shanghai, Northern China, and Taiwan. His martial arts expertise and prowess always enlightens our experience of the tournaments and performances. He also has a very deep understanding of the Wu Tang martial arts philosophy and Chinese history. His commentary and guiding suggestions were most appreciated. However, his most redeeming qualities are his ability to explore, laugh, and play. A real night owl, he never runs on low!

Kelly, our former 1998 tour guide and now English teacher in Jinan, was able to join us in Qingdao. Graceful, beautiful and always mindful, she helped to cut through the cultural barriers and complexities of Chinese custom. She is an excellent bridge to the East and is a favorite with Grandpa (she is a Shandong girl and shares the same Shandong accent with Grandpa). Hopefully she will eventually find her way to the United States to attend graduate school. She represents the best of a new evolving generation of young Chinese adults.

The Qingdao tournament has now become a mainstay event for the Wu Tang Center for Martial Arts. Relationships have become solidified and it is hoped that Master Yangís godson, Zhang Mao-chang, will come to our center to visit and train. His father, Zhang Wei-fu, director of the tournament, had most graciously provided us "safe" passage to Huang Shan/Shanghai by assigning us his personal disciple and tour guide Mr. Yu. A special thanks goes out to Mr. Yu. Prior to the tournament, he had purchased a new home and his family was eagerly anticipating his return in order to pack and move. Never complaining, he extended his absence from his family in order to assure our well-being and safe departure. This was a call above and beyond duty of a good host.

Finally, our deepest gratitude and thanks must go to our own Master, Yang Xiao-dong (Tony). He serves both as master and guide to the lineage and legend of Grandmaster Liu Yun-qiao and the traditional martial arts of China past. Through his efforts at the Wu Tang Center for Martial Arts in Akron, Ohio, Grandmaster Liuís philosophy and teachings will continue to prosper and grow for many years to come.

This article was contributed by Robert Figler.

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