My China Story: Meeting the master

Updated: 2014-06-10 10:30

By Anastasia Sukhoretskaya (

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Adventures are what make our life worth living. They can happen to you anywhere: when you are away from home, when you are walking on the street, or they can come with a curious encounter, in my case, for example.

August 2011 was my last month before the departure to Beijing. That year I was granted the second China Government Scholarship, and was patiently waiting the beginning of autumn to fully indulge in the exciting university life and Chinese language learning in one of the country’s best language universities, BLCU. But I didn’t know that august would bring me an unforgettable meeting with one of the renowned traditional Chinese kungfu masters, Sui Yunjiang. He came to my city with a series of seminars and was to stay for a fortnight. I was asked to be his interpreter and had to accompany him and his wife during all that time, as well as Viktor who was the organizer and the host.

My China Story: Meeting the master

The author poses with master Sui(R) at a Sui's birthday party. [Photo provided to]

According to the Chinese tradition, we called Sui Yunjiang master Sui, shifu, or Sui laoshi. His personality impressed me deeply. Maybe it was a fate yuanfen, or something other, but it was not the first time I heard his name, since he used to come to my town every two years, mostly in august. However, I never saw him in person, nor did the translation for him. I lacked knowledge in wushu, but the master was very patient trying to explain to me every single word that I couldn’t comprehend. He was already in his sixties at that time, but, giving credit to his sharp mind, he could find a way with the youngest disciples as well as the older ones. The two weeks that I had spent with that amazing family inspired me and I continued my kungfu practices in Beijing.

Master Sui is a practitioner of two Chinese traditional kungfu styles: baguazhang and meihuazhuang. The first one is more famous, and practiced worldwide. Shifu, who celebrated his 70th anniversary last autumn, became recognized due to baguazhang, especially in Russia. He is a fourth-generation of baguazhang masters and eighteenth-generation master of meihuazhuang masters. He used to train with Li Ziming, third-generation baguazhang master who called Sui Yunjiang one of his best disciples because of his diligence in practices. Moreover, Sui Yunjiang’s life was tightly connected with Russia, when he was invited there in 1990 and even made an appearance in one of the programs on Russian TV. He stayed in Russia for two years getting experience of living in another country. He was warmly and kindly welcomed by Russian wushu practitioners, and since then was often invited to give seminars. His deep understanding of traditional wushu met recognition there and for the time being, his Russian kungfu disciples are among his most devoted students. Now Sui laoshi has followers in the USA, Germany, South Korea, Japan, Russia and Italy which made his name big in the world of Chinese traditional wushu.

The place where we practice kungfu deserves special mentioning. It is a little “island” in the heart of the city, Xizhimen. A park with a small river where dragon-shaped boats take passengers to the Summer Palace, is an amazing place with Russian spirit. Beijing is known to be home for many Russians, there is the largest Russian district called Yabaolu with many Russian clothing shops and food restaurants. But this place is something different. Tranquil, peaceful, enchanting, the park is hidden from the eyes of many, showing its true beauty only to those who is in pursue of the miracle. On the opposite side of the wushu training spot there is former Soviet Union Exhibition Center, which was renamed into Beijing Exhibition Center after Soviets’ and China Republic’s relations had come into turbulence. The earliest Russian cuisine restaurant “Moscow” was also placed in this picturesque area. Government officials who took office during that period used to have their lunches and dinners there.

During all these three years now that I have known him since our first meeting, he never stopped surprising me with his strong, yet sensitive personality. This is the person who having contracted cancer at such an old age, was able to recover and resume wushu practices on regular basis – five times a week. He is a person, who never loses enthusiasm and faith in people, always surrounded by friends and deeply loving him relatives including his daughter. Our lessons go far beyond simply learning kungfu technics. His teaching is more about life, about enjoying every single moment of it because it will not happen twice, about training our will and overcoming difficulties, about harmonious existence, and building relationships with other people. After every kungfu lesson, we are welcome into his house to drink tea. This is another lesson being taugh- the mastery of chadao, or tea ceremony. It was exactly in his home that I learnt and tried different kinds of tea. Cha fairy-tale. His amazing wife prepares tea ceremony every time we come back from the training.

Miracles are everywhere. For me, a miracle is meeting Sui Yunjiang. I love being a journalist, interviewing and writing about people from different paths of life, but Sui laoshi is the only person who made such a strong impression on me. I am not an exception. All his disciples admire him for his unique personality and value the knowledge of ancient tradition that master Sui teaches them.