Shake it like Bruce Lee

Shake it like Bruce Lee

'Martial arts dance' is a fun but high-intensity new sport, our junior reporters found out at a special workshop

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Junior reporters practise their moves at a Martial Arts Dance workshop under the guidance of trainer Khasman Khan.
Junior reporters practise their moves at a Martial Arts Dance workshop under the guidance of trainer Khasman Khan.
Photos: Leon Lee/SCMP
What do you get when you mix traditional Chinese martial arts with Western hip hop dance? The answer: martial arts dance.

Three junior reporters got to learn the basics of the art form at the East Meets West Martial Arts Dance Workshop held at the Youth Arts Foundation Studio.

Here's what they learned.

Phoebe Ma Ka-yan

Many people think martial arts and dancing don't mix. Khasman Khan has proven this view to be wrong. He has combined the two into a new style of dance known as martial arts dance (MAD).

At the workshop, I learned some hip hop movements. We also did co-ordination and stretching exercises. It was exhausting, but I felt fantastic. It turned out I wasn't very flexible at all. It was painful for me just to try to touch my toes. I'll definitely have to stretch more in future.

Khan told us that every movement in the choreography has its purpose. This applies to self-defence techniques, borrowed from kung fu, which we may find useful in daily life.

Khan showed us how a quick and soft blow can produce greater impact than one thrown violently. He quoted legendary martial artist Bruce Lee, who once said, "A kung fu punch is like an iron ball swung on an iron chain."

Dorothy Yim

I have practised both kung fu and taekwondo in the past. But this was my first experience of martial arts dance. What the workshop made me realise is that kung fu, taekwondo and hip hop have very similar features.

All three focus on giving your body a full workout in a unique way. Good co-ordination is also essential in both martial arts and dancing.

You cannot do any of the three without staying fit and flexible. You also need to learn to breathe well and use your body in a way that helps you carry out complicated movements with ease. Finally, for all three you need to practise and practise.

When it comes to differences, they are also obvious. Traditional martial arts focus on techniques that improve the power of your kicks and punches while also building up speed. Martial arts dance, on the other hand, is entertainment in the form of a dance performance. Its steps and moves are more gentle - sort of like tai chi.

Janet Tam Ka-wing

Khan, who is director of the Hong Kong Martial Arts Dance Club, has been doing hip hop dancing for seven years. He has been doing martial arts for 12 years. His purpose has been to combine the two sports into one. His martial arts dance routines incorporate elements from kung fu and karate into hip hop moves. "There are some common characteristics in both martial arts and dancing," he said. "For example, body co-ordination and speed of reaction are essential for these two arts."

Last year Khan went to the Shaolin Temple in Zhengzhou for a month to learn more about kung fu. "I woke up at six in the morning and started my training. I practised staying in the horse-riding stance and the bow stance for an hour each."

Khan wants to increase the popularity of his new dance style because he believes it can benefit everyone. "MAD is suitable for everyone from age three to 80. It can strengthen your circulatory and respiratory systems and improve your flexibility."

Khan would like to have his own studio to help his students explore and discover the world of martial arts dance.

I found his idea of combining martial arts and dance very exciting. The workshop enriched my understanding of both martial arts and hip hop.

Throughout the workshop, Khan played upbeat music, which made me feel even more energetic and enthusiastic about trying out new moves.

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