Shaolin kung fu returns

Shaolin kung fu returns

Martial arts masters are back on Lantau Island to display their skills

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Photo: May Tse
Shaolin kung fu takes centre stage this summer with the return of martial art demonstrations in the Shaolin Showcase at Ngong Ping Village on Lantau Island.

Twenty Shaolin masters will perform martial art moves made famous in action films and also conduct workshops where visitors can learn and experience the true spirit of Shaolin kung fu.

The name Shaolin kung fu is used to describe the different Chinese martial arts associated with the Shaolin Monastery. It's a Buddhist temple founded in the fifth century at Song Shan, a sacred mountain in Dengfeng, Henan province.

The shaven-headed kung fu masters at Ngong Ping Village - the terminus of the Ngong Ping 360 cable car from Tung Chung - are all students at a kung fu school in Dongguan, Guangdong. "We don't just study kung fu at school," says Li Shengjuan, 21, one of the Shaolin masters. "We study regular subjects, such as mathematics and Chinese, in addition to kung fu training.

"In Chinese we say, wen wu quan cai ... we must study both martial arts and normal academic subjects at the same time in order to improve."

The students' academic routine resembles, in part, the demanding, disciplined lifestyle of Shaolin monks. "We wake up at 5am and work out for two hours," says Li, who rarely has a day off. "We then go to school in the morning and go back to our kung fu training in the afternoon and evening."

Hu Gao, who heads the team of Shaolin masters at Ngong Ping Village, says: "It is true that the students have a tougher life than other people of their age. They have very little time to relax because practising kung fu is extremely time consuming and tough.

"They rip their clothes several times a day during training and have to change regularly. It shows how tough it is for them."

Li, who joined the school at the age of 14 because of his love for kung fu, is very much focused on the martial art.

To improve, he believes he needs to keep learning and exercising.

When he does have some spare time for himself, he likes playing basketball. "Kung fu is a kind of sport, so it is natural that I would prefer to do sports in my free time, as well," Li says.

The group of Shaolin masters at Ngong Ping has been in Hong Kong several times before to give performances and promote the Shaolin culture. "Doing this Shaolin showcase doesn't affect our daily training routine at all," says Hu. "We still train hard during these performances in order to push ourselves to do better."

Li says the demonstrations and workshops are of interest to people from many countries around the world. "Shaolin kung fu has more than 1,500 years of history; it is our duty to spread the culture and offer people a chance to get to know more about it," he says.

Hu urged local kung fu enthusiasts to train more and improve their fitness to help promote the culture in Hong Kong.

For more details about Shaolin kung fu, go to www.np360.com.hk

Join Shaolin kung fu workshop

Young Post is inviting five readers to attend the Ngong Ping "Shaolin Kung Fu Showcase 2011" on August 5. Participants can enjoy a performance by kung fu masters, learn kung fu as part of Shaolin Qixingquan Training and interview the kung fu masters.

Interested junior reporters can send an e-mail, with their name, school, phone number and an explanation about why they love kung fu, to reporters.club@scmp.com no later than Friday (July 29). Put "Kung Fu" in the subject field.

This workshop is open to junior reporters only. To join the Young Post Reporters' Club, visit this page.

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