ZGY intangible cultural heritage

Mr. Zhang Gaoyan. A short obituary: The life of a meihuaquan master and community activist

Death of Mr. Zhang Gaoyan. A short obituary celebrating his life.

Zhang Gaoyan was born on the first day of the third Lunar month, 1953. Because of being overworked for too long, he fell ill, and after seeking unsuccessful treatment at many different hospitals, succumbed to his illness 17:20 on the afternoon of the 23rd day of the Second Fourth Lunar month 2012 at the age of 60.

高彦同志出生于书香门第之家,他七岁步入学堂。在校期间,他尊敬老师、团结同学,学习成绩一直名列前茅。他品学兼优,多次评为三好学生,曾多次受到 乡文教部门大力表扬。光阴荏苒、日月如梭,转眼到了一九七二年,他积极响应祖国号召,报名参军应征入伍,到广州军区5757部队司令部报道。
Zhang Gaoyan was born into a scholarly family (family with a history of education) and began school at the age of 7. While at school, he respected his teacher and got along well with his classmates and always received top scores in his exams. He was not only good at school, but possessed an agreeable friendly personality and many times was honoured with a “Three Goods” award, and many times received vigorous praise from the Township Culture and Education department.
The years passed and in 1972, he enthusiastically responded to the call of his motherland and applied to join the army. After his recruitment, he was assigned to the Sichuan province Army District 5757 and reported to the headquarters.

在部队入伍三年,他尊重首长团结战友,不折不扣完成上级交给的各项光荣任务。曾受到连级部门连嘉奖四次, 一九七四年退伍复员回到家乡,当年本村成立运输队,他用在部队学到的技术自己组装了一台拖拉机,并被村委会聘为大队拖拉机队队长。从此改善了农村以前比较 旧的运输方式, 开车数年,没发生过一次交通事故。开车多年经常把方便给别人,困难留给自己,一直任劳任怨。多次受到党支部村委会表扬。
He remained in the army for three years and during this time respected his senior officers and comrades-in-arms and always gave his full effort to the fulfillment of each of the glorious responsibilities that were assigned by his superiors. He received commendation four times from the company commander. In 1974, he left the army and returned to civilian life in his hometown, where his village set up a transport corps (team). Using the knowledge he had learned in the army, he assembled a tractor by himself, and was asked by the village committee to take the position as the Production Team’s head of the Tractor Corps. This was an improvement over the old transportation system that had been previously used in the village. Although he served as driver for many years, he was never involved in any traffic accidents. During the years he drove tractors, he often helped other people at the cost of considerable inconvenience to himself, and worked selflessly without complaint. He was commended and praised many times by the village Committee Party Branch.

At home, he was filial son and had a good relationship with his neighbors and if someone’s family faced hardship, he always generously contributed money with unselfish concern.
When one of the villagers, Zhang Baochen died, and his widow and son had trouble living, he provided help to them for many years. ????He also helped the blind man Zhang Xing apply for government welfare (the “Five Welfares”) and to Zhang Xianhua whose parents died young. Many times Gaoyan provided generous contributions of money to provide for the two men. His spirit of unselfishness and finding pleasure in helping others was widely praised by local people and elders.
[NOTE: the village government was supposed to provided the handicapped men with this welfare support, but owing to corruption at the village level, they kept the money for themselves and did not give it to the men]

时光流逝,眨眼到了一九八二年,国家改革开放,实行体制改革,国有企业承包给个人成为私有企业,农村也实行了土地改革,生产大队、集体食堂解散,农 民有了自己土地的使用权了,是件应该高兴的事情,但因以前比较落后和生产队给留下的几眼几乎坏掉的水井,村民浇灌农田成了困难。
The years passed quickly, and by 1982, the state had begun to undertake economic reforms and state-owned companies were contracted out to individuals and became privately run companies. The countryside also underwent land reforms and the Production team, the communal dining hall were disbanded, and farmers were given use-rights over their own land. This should have been a happy event, but because conditions were underdeveloped, and because the Production team left behind only a few, nearly completely unusable water wells, the irrigation of agricultural fields was a very serious problem for villagers.

俗话说;‘民以食为天’老百姓指望就是粮食的收成,浇灌不了田地,村民能不着急吗?高彦师爷当时看着村民焦急的面孔和快要枯萎的庄稼,心里像针扎的 一样难受。于是他和张付的、张龙的等村民组织起来开始了打新水井的计划和筹备,经过几个月的艰苦奋斗,一眼采用新技术打得新水井坐落在农田中间,看到水井 涌出清凉而甘甜的井水村民们是高兴万分。
There is an expression: “The masses regard food as their primary need” and farming people greatly anticipate the grain harvest. Unable to irrigate the fields, how could the farmers not worry? Gaoyan saw the worried faces of the villagers and the soon-to-be-withered crops in the field and was greatly disturbed by this. Taking action, he and Zhang Fude, Zhang Longde and other villagers organized to begin the plans and preparations necessary to dig new wells. After several months of diligent work in the face of many difficulties, they used new technology to dig a new well situated in the middle of a field. ??? When the villagers saw fresh, cool and potable water gushing from the new well, they were excited beyond words.

Shortly afterwards, some of the villagers organized to make plans to dig new wells and within two years, the agricultural fields all around the village were dotted with twenty or thirty new wells. And from that time forth, the villagers never again worried that their crops would wither in the field for lack of irrigation water. Not afraid to face difficulties and challenges, Gaoyan and his courage to innovate was seen as a praiseworthy deed that was discussed among villagers.

随着时间的推移,光阴似箭,转眼到二零零六年,中国古老而优秀拳种—–梅花拳,是一个有思想纲领的独特拳派,是一个文理与武功相辅相成的秘密团体。 它既不同于一般民间秘密教门,也不同于一般纯粹武术门派,梅花拳文理指导武功,思想支配拳术,文武互补互济,协调发展, 从而成为一个有悠久历史传统和鲜明特色的拳术门派。
Meihuaquan, a unique school of martial arts characterized by a guiding ideology, and composed of both Wenli and Wugong that function in complementary relationship with each other, is a secretive folk organization. But it is unlike other secret folk religious groups, and it is unlike other martial arts groups that are concerned only with martial arts practice. In meihuaquan, the wenli serves to guide wugong martial arts: ideology and theory are dominant over boxing skills, wen and wu exist in a mutual relationship in which each assists the other, and work together in coordinated development. It is a school of martial arts with distinguishing features and a long history.

In 1996, meihuaquan was designated an Intangible Cultural Heritage in the first round of selections by the Culture Department of the State Council. Comrade Gaoyan, riding the Eastern Wind of the economic reforms, worked to transmit the spirit of meihuaquan to the next generation. He immediately called together Zhang Xiangde, Zhang Jieliang, Zhang Fude and other yemen (menfolk) for a discussion regarding the construction of a meihuaquan martial arts training hall [also known as the Fawang Hall (Fawang dian)]. The men at the meeting agreed to undertake construction of a meihuaquan training hall to fulfill a widely held aspiration of the villagers.

高彦同志首先带头捐资一万元。随后几千几百几十元不等,众人慷慨解囊资金到位,于二零零七年三月动工,经过半年紧张施工,高彦时刻不离工地,晚上值 班看守。在高彦同志带领下,一座古典式具有当地民族风情美观大方富丽堂皇,梅花拳武馆【又名法王殿】。和关帝庙威严壮阔,呈现在众人面前,并举行了声势浩 大的三年开光仪式。届时有国际友人、海内外嘉宾,县市各级领导,当地文艺团体万余人欢聚一堂,庆贺永年梅花拳武馆盛大状况先河。

Comrade Gaoyan took the lead by first donating 10,000 yuan. Following this, the people generously donated money in sums ranging from several thousand, several hundred to several tens of yuan so that by the Third Lunar Month of 2007, construction was able to begin. During the 6 months of fevered construction, Gaoyan never left the construction site, and at night, stayed at the site to keep watch. Under the leadership of Gaoyan, a dignified, beautiful structure built in a classical style and emanating a rustic flavor was finally completed– the meihuaquan martial arts hall (Also known as Fawang Dian). The meihuaquan martial arts training hall, standing together with the Guandi temple build as part of the complex took form in a stately and magnificent manner in front of the villagers, and an impressive three-year kaiguang commemoration celebration. On the occasion, honoured guests from all over China and from abroad, city and county officials of various ranks, folk dancing teams and an audience of ten thousand, all gathered happily together to attend the celebration.


As soon as the martial arts hall was constructed, comrade Gaoyan wasted no time in inviting many high-level martial arts masters to teach. Over three hundred boys and girls voluntarily signed up to study martial arts year round- in accordance with the traditional advice that training must take place “During the hottest three days of summer 夏练三伏” and “During the coldest three days of the winter 冬练三九”. The voluntary instruction of martial arts at the school was to enhance and promote the spirit of meihuaquan and its martial arts training techniques and to teach, for the sake of Chinese martial arts as a whole, group after group of youth so that they could become talented martial arts practitioners with high moral standards. With such an education, the youth trained at the centre would become people of talent, and make a contribution to society. The martial arts training centre was praised many times and commended for its efforts by both the Yongnian County and Handan City Departments of Culture and Education, and by the Meihuaquan Association of Handan city.

二零零九年,为了使故城村父老乡亲每位青少年掌握科学技术,家家户户走向小康水平,高彦决定建图书馆。科技是强国富民之 基础,不可缺少的一种动力。古人云;读书破万卷,理想能实现;只有苦读书,从中了解知识合理运用,结合当前形势,搞好发家致富是不成问题的。

In 2009, in order to help the village elders and countrymen attain a better understanding of science and technology, and to help every family move closer to achieving a more comfortable living standard (the “xiaokang” level), {???NEW???) Gaoyan decided to build a library for the village. {???NEW???) Science is the foundation for enriching (driving economic growth) and making the country powerful and strong and is an essential impetus. The ancients said, “If you are well read, you will be able to achieve you goals” and that “if you study diligently, you will be understand how to apply knowledge in practice, and match its use to the situation that exists, and taking good care of one’s family and providing for them will not present any problem”.

他和加拿大梅花拳协会会长安瑞德、邹小燕等人帮助多次联系到北京心平基金会,基金会愿意帮助义务提供各种科技,思想道德发家致富指南等书刊,高彦马 上多方筹集资金八万余元,经过一个多月的紧张施工,一座占地面积118平方米的二层图书馆了楼房坐落在故城村村中央,并开展了隆重的仪式 ‘北京心平基金会赠书仪式’ 梅花拳图书馆又名百姓书馆使村民和农村的孩子们对知识有了新的认识。
Gaoyan decided to build a library, and after getting in contact with the Beijing Xinping Foundation and discussing the issue with them many times, the Foundation agreed to donate a collection of books dealing with science, moral cultivation, home and family self-improvement books. Gaoyan immediately set to work to collect 80,000 yuan in donations, and after one month of furious construction activity, a two story library building occupying 118 square meters was completed in the centre of Gucheng village. A grand opening ceremony was held and was entitled “The Beijing Xinping Foundation Book Donation Ceremony (北京心平基金会赠书仪式)”. The library named “The Meihuaquan Library”, also known as the “Villagers Library” was built to provide all residents and village children with a new opportunity to attain knowledge and learn new things.


The children from Gucheng and the surrounding villages come to the library to read and borrow books on the weekends and during their spare time. From their reading, they are able to expand their knowledge and learn about methods and technologies, and learn about ancient Chinese civilization, receiving great benefit from the teachings of Confucious including Dizigui 弟子规 (Disciples Rules), Sanzi Jing Classic (三字经), and the Twenty Four Filial Guidelines (二十四孝), all of which are staples for proper moral development. The construction of the library and its widespread use received strong praise and commendation from the Yongnian County Cultural Centre.

二零一一年,为了使每一位热爱武术的孩子能够文武学习成绩双优,成为国家有用人才,一到雨天,学生在公校泥烂不堪无法上课。于是他就决定筹建一所稍 微好一点点学校,给孩子们一个好的学习环境,高彦师爷和张付的、张节良、张景如、张景印、张进周、张红恩、马广金等人多方筹集资金,还有很多妇女义务来帮 工,筹建所需材料。
In 2011, order to provide every child who loves martial arts studies with the chance to attain high achievements in both martial arts and in academic studies, and to help develop a generation of talent to contribute to the nation, Gaoyan led the establishment of an elementary school.
Every time rain fell in Gucheng, the school grounds at the public elementary school became intolerably muddy, it was impossible for children to attend class. For this reason, Gaoyan decided to undertake the construction of a better school and provide the children with better study environment. Zhang Gaoyan together with Zhang Fude, Zhang Jingru, Zhang Jingyin, Zhang Jinzhou, Zhang Hongen, Ma Guangjin and others worked hard contacting people far and near to raise funds. During the construction many village women came to help and provided whatever type of help and materials that were needed.

After half a year of hard work, the construction of an office, and a new school with more than 20 rooms was completed. After the structure was completed, the interior finishing and decoration remained to be done. The work was finished just before the summer holiday and in order to help the children have an activity-filled summer, Gaoyan set to work organizing villagers to complete the interior decoration, and at the same time worked with the Beijing Western Sunshine Foundation’s (北京西部阳光) Education team 10 volunteer teachers who came to the village to offer a summer training camp for the village children.

At the same time, a group of three Korean employees of the Samsung Corporation came to Gucheng village to teach village children about Korea, its culture and customs. The summer holiday passed quickly, and Zhang Gaoyan, upon seeing the happy children, the support and understanding of the parents, the volunteer teachers who braved the stifling heat of the summer to provide attentive guidance to the children, and the Korean visitors who were so fond of the village’s martial arts, smiled with great satisfaction and great happiness in his heart.

但不幸的是不知是因长时间的劳积,还是酷暑的天气,病魔已经侵入了他的身体。高彦师爷病了,经几家医院诊断,最后确诊为可怕的‘白血病’。在一般人 知道得的是这种病时,都会觉得非常恐惧、害怕,但是他却很坦然,没有把自己的病当作回事。故城前街路面经过几年大小车辆的碾压,路面坑坑洼洼,凸凹不平。 张现周、张梦林、和兰建平等人商议修路一事,几次没有成功。
But sadly, whether it was because of working too much, or because of the intense heat of the summer, a serious illness had already taken hold of Gaoyan. Gaoyan was ill, and after being diagnosed by several hospitals, received the conclusive diagnosis that he had the dreaded disease of leukemia. The average person, upon hearing they have a disease such at this, would feel a terrible dread and fear. But Gaoyan remained unperturbed and did not worry much about his disease at all. In Gucheng, the road surface of Front Street 前街 had, after several years of being driven on by vehicles large and small, become pot-holed, badly cracked and uneven. In past years, Zhang Xianzhou, Zhang Menglin, Lan Jianping and others had raised the topic of repairing the road several, but had never succeeded (in convincing villagers and reaching a consensus how it should be done)

刚好赶上他在北京三零七医院第一个疗程回来,他们几人来找他商量此事,当时他已重病缠身,但一心扑到施工现场。当时如果不是这位在人们心中有威望、 受人尊敬的高彦师爷带领,路是很难修成的。高彦首先义务捐资一千元,没几天众人一时响应资金到位,在他的带领下,于二零一一年农历八月十六日,经过三天的 紧张施工,一条平正光滑的水泥路面呈现在村民面前。他这种忘我而顾全大局精神受到村民大力称赞。
Right after Gaoyan had completed the first round of leukemia treatments at the 307 Hospital in Beijing and returned to the village, the men came to see him to discuss this issue. At that time, Gaoyan was already very seriously ill, but put his entire heart onto the construction of the road. Had it not been Gaoyan, a man of prestige and respected widely, who was leading the road construction project, it would have been very difficult indeed to have successfully completed the road. Gaoyan took the lead by first donating 1000 yuan for construction, and within a matter of several days, other families responded with donations and soon the funds were in place. Under his leadership, by the 6th day of the 8th Lunar month of 2011, the construction of a strong and smooth concrete road was completed before the eyes of the whole village. Gaoyans’ selfless spirit and ongoing consideration of the community as a whole was widely acclaimed by the villagers.

Ever since 2007 Gaoyan was appointed as the director of the management board of the Yongnian County Meihuaquan Chuanbojidi by the Yongnian County Department of Religion, Culture and Physical Education Department, he worked undertook tireless and devoted work for the transmission and popularization of meihuaquan. During those six years, he led the students of the martial arts school to sweep the village streets, and during the winter organized villagers to clear the streets of snow and through these efforts, children learned moral behavior such as returning money they happened to find on the ground, and helping others to derive happiness for oneself. These changes helped to improve the village environment as a whole, and improved the overall level of public awareness and civil behavior.

以上所说,只不过是他生活中的一部分。他的一生,是光辉的一生。他一生孝敬父母,尊老爱幼,乐善好施,助人为乐,把方便让与别人,把困难留于自己, 他把毕生精力都献给了梅花拳事业。为弘扬梅花拳,在永年县开辟了前所未有的先河,传承梅花拳事业做出了突出的贡献。可惜他英灵早逝,是发展梅花拳一项重大 损失。梅花拳弟子应化悲痛为力量,把梅花拳事业弘扬的更加辉煌。愿中华魂宝——梅花拳,走向全国、走向世界
The above stories tell the story of only part of his life. His life was a glorious one. He was a filial son his whole life, respected the elderly and loved children, derived happiness form helping others, providing convenience to others, and leaving trouble and inconvenience for himself, and donated his entire life’s efforts for the propagation and popularization of meihuaquan. In Yongnian county, he was a pioneer in taking unprecedented action to help carry forward, popularize and propagate meihuaquan and made outstanding contributions in this regard. Sadly, his noble spirit died young, and his passing is a significant loss for collective efforts to propagate meihuaquan. Disciples of meihuaquan should transform their grief into strength and extend every effort towards the glorious expansion of meihuaquan with the hope that the treasure of China, meihuaquan, will be known throughout the country and abroad.

I have written this about Gaoyan’s life, but know that my writing is crude and I am of limited talent, and so it is inevitable that there will be many mistakes. It is my hope that Mr Ray Ambrosi from Canada will will offer suggestions for improvements. I followed Gaoyan for many years, we were friends for over fifty years, and very clearly know the noble and ethical way in which he treated other people, and in a dignified and courteous manner, lived a life of righteousness.

梅拳弟子张高彦 , 毕生精力献梅拳。

为人高尚品德好 , 万世流芳美名传。


Meihuaquan disciple Zhang Gaoyan,
Contributed his entire life’s efforts to meihuaquan
His behaviour to others was noble and pure,
And left a good name for all following generations

2012, in the second month of summer, Ma Guangjin.