Past, present and future
The Wudang Taoist Wellness Academy (WTWA) was founded in central China’s Wudang Mountains in 2004. Since 2015, it has been located at the current site. Cradled by the gentle mountain slopes, the WTWA lies in the peaceful embrace of pine forests and tea plantations with a view that stretches for hundreds of miles.
Housed in several single-floor, brick-and-mortar, former tea farmer’s buildings, the WTWA offers Tai chi training and Taoist cultivation courses that help its students “live long and live well”. These simple words also characterize its founder and teacher, Master Gu Shining. A 15th-generation Taoist Master, he is the heart and soul of the Academy and the very reason for many people from all over the world to enroll as a student.
In no small part due to the invaluable efforts of George Thompson and his outstanding YouTube channel (link below), more and more lovers of Tai chi and Taoist culture are finding their way to the WTWA. Now, it is true that many of them actually come looking forward to a natural, basic way of life and simple facilities. However, with the increase in the number of students, the time has come for the WTWA to undertake certain necessary renovations.
The WTWA is therefore looking to raise funds for two main purposes: first, to increase the capacity of the accommodation and modernize the Academy’s facilities. Second, to ensure that the students, who have often travelled from far, can be given appropriate time and attention by Master Gu. This entails the hiring of a small number of staff to look after the school and grounds, as well as perform certain administrative and other supporting tasks. Right now, Master Gu keeps the WTWA running almost entirely on his own; liberating him from some of this workload will enable him to spend more time with the students, which is what he naturally wants.
Why use crowdfunding?
There are several reasons why Master Gu hopes to involve the many members of the Tai Chi Family across the globe to help make these renovations possible. Firstly, the WTWA is located in a mountainous region, which makes any construction project laborious and costly. Secondly, the Wudang Mountains are in fact a World Heritage site, which means stringent, high-cost stipulations are imposed on this kind of project by the authorities. An additional reason is the steep cost of labour in China’s current economy. In sum, a renovation of this nature will call for a larger investment than a Taoist Master of modest means has in the bank.
We considered showing our appreciation by setting up a “perks” system such as is often found in crowdfunding campaigns, with fixed amounts and corresponding rewards. We would, however, rather spend your contributions where they are most needed: on better facilities that will benefit the WTWA students. After much deliberation, therefore, we have decided on a different approach. No matter how much you contribute, the WTWA will express its appreciation in one of two ways:
- if you are unable to visit the WTWA, we will give you free access to one of Master Gu's online courses of Taiji or Qi Gong;
- if you decide to visit the WTWA, the amount you have contributed will be deducted from the total bill for your stay.
In this way, Master Gu and the Academy wish to express their appreciation to all of the Tai Chi Family contributors.
Specifically, the renovation plans involve:
- Back building: heightening the roof to create a second floor; creation of more bedrooms; renovation of current bathroom; addition of extra bathroom
- Front building: heightening the roof to create a second floor; creation of more bedrooms; renovation of current bathroom; addition of another three bathrooms (totaling six bathrooms altogether at the WTWA); general repair work
- Kitchen and dining areas: extended and modernizedExternal areas: installation of larger water tank, area behind kitchen, yard including lowering of yard side wall, construction of corridors and pavilions
- Recruitment of staff: one maintenance/cleaning staff member, one office clerk in charge of administration and communication, an English-speaking assistant coach/trainer (either domestic or foreign)
- Phase I, obtaining a 15-year lease (2019: DONE)
- Phase II, obtaining final approval from the National Scenery Zone Administration Bureau (preliminary approval 2019 & final approval 2020)
- Phase III, contract the design and construction team (2019 & 2020)
- Phase IV, renting temporary accommodation for students to be used during renovations (start of 2020)
- Phase V, renovation of back building (first four weeks of actual construction work, late winter 2020)
- Phase VI, moving then-current students from front building accommodations to new back building accommodations (plus, if necessary, to temporary accommodations at five-minute walking distance) (early spring 2020)
- Phase VII, renovation of front building (spring 2020)
- Phase VIII, renovation and extension of kitchen and dining areas (late spring, early summer 2020)
- Phase IX, construction of wooden terrace behind kitchen, on second-floor level, to serve as a walkway and access for the second-floor bedrooms; also serving as roof of the extended kitchen and dining areas (early summer 2020)
- Phase X, external renovations, e.g. construction of pavilions and corridors (connecting the two buildings), reconstruction of yard enclosure (summer 2020)
- Phase XI, final recruitment of staff (summer 2020)
Risks and Challenges
- delay because of waiting for final approval; because of adverse weather or other conditions (e.g. a virus outbreak)
- insufficiency of funds because of unexpected developments
Find us here
WTWA Instagram: @taoistwellness