The Living Archive
Which is why the International Guoshu Association has been instrumental in the creation of the Hong Kong Martial Arts Living Archive. They have worked with Hong Kong City University on the project which employs motion sensor technology, as seen in modern movies such as Avatar and Lord of the Rings, to record those minor Kung Fu styles which are still practiced before they die out altogether.
The various masters are invited to the university where they are fitted with more than 100 sensors and then recorded using 1000-frames-per-second cameras and virtual reality projections.
As Reuters has reported, the project has so far recorded more than 50 different styles so far, including the Jiangxi Bamboo Forest Praying Mantis Kung Fu variant.
The archive ensures that those variants will be preserved for future generations, but it also had bigger ambitions. Chao Hing hopes that the project could eventually lead to an Institute for Chinese Martial Arts in Hong Kong, which he has argued would be the best way to ensure that the huge number of different variants of Kung Fu continue to be practiced.
In the meantime, Hong Kong City University is embarking on some less conventional way to attract the interest of young Hong Kongers in some of their traditional martial arts. The data is also being used to create various different art installations and interactive exhibitions, which have been opened at the University.
Thanks to the determination of organisations like the International Guoshu Association, the future of many of Hong Kong’s more obscure forms of Kung Fu have been secured. But there is much more to be done if they are to continue to be practiced and to continue to provide a vital link to Hong Kong’s cultural heritage.