People and Technology Are the Keys to Promote Chinese Martial Arts

One year before the great opening ceremony of Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, the Ninth World Wushu Championships was held in Beijing again. They invited Li Lianjie (Jet Li) to become its official image ambassador. Jet Li, who is also the ambassador of the International Wushu Federation and the Chinese Wushu Association, has been doing his best to encourage the development of traditional Chinese martial arts.

He said at the opening ceremony:

“In the past, I had the honor to promote Chinese martial arts through movies. I would like in the next decades, to promote the wisdom, love, peace and harmony of Wushu. So I want to extend it to every corner of the world, so that people can enhance the quality of life. I will do my best to reassure the development of martial arts, and let more people follow and support it.”

Wushu culture is a reflection of China’s cultural soft power. Nevertheless, it is China’s major cultural heritage in danger. Therefore, the effort to protect the tradition of Wushu is essential. Thus, people who practice Wushu have the responsibility to help traditional Wushu to become a culture of sustainable development.

Jet Li attending the opening ceremony of the Ninth World Wushu Championships

Technology in Chinese Martial Arts

There are thousands of Chinese traditional Wushu routines, which some only elderly generations are teaching them. Besides, young people practicing Wushu are steadily dwindling. Consequently, Wushu might be fading away. By tradition,one of the best ways for Kung Fu is word of mouth. However, people in the business think that these martial arts routines can hardly survived in oral tradition. Nowadays, advanced technology has become an effective tool to inherit Kung Fu.

The University of Hong Kong and the Chinese Martial Arts Association are aiming to work together to create the world’s first 3D martial arts archives. This heritage protection project is entitled “Hong Kong Martial Arts Living Archive “. The main idea is to preserve the data of around 400 Kung Fu schools. Currently, there are already archived 50 records.

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World's first 3D martial arts archive establishments

The 3D motion-capture sensors, 1000-frames-per-second cameras and virtual-reality projections used together can record the most traditional styles of Hakka Kung Fu and also their origins, improvements and prospects.

Chinese Martial Arts
Kung Fu masters are using optical motion-capture systems for every movement.
Photo source: International Guoshu Association 中華國術總會 https://www.facebook.com/guoshuintl/photos/a.1444322062447784.1073741827.1441865162693474/1578885128991476/?type=3&theater

Since the second half of last year, the project team held the exhibition entitled “300 Years of Hakka Kung Fu – Digital Vision of its Legacy and Future” in Hong Kong Heritage Museum. This multimedia technology recorded the Kung Fu material in the exhibition. You can find it in the official website www.hakkakungfu.com.

chinese martial arts
The audience can explore the secrets of Kung Fu though the multimedia technology at the exhibition.
Photo source: Hakka Kung Fu http://www.hakkakungfu.com/

3D Exhibition

This exhibition shows the movements of 19 eminent Kung Fu masters. In this journey through time and space, visitors can explore the Hakka martial arts through archives, pictures and images. They can experience the mystery of martial arts by using 3D images.

“Re-Actor” device projects holographic images, displaying, from different angles, the movements of the Kung Fu masters using the long pole. A gentle touch of the button, and you can see the trajectory in space and time of a whole movement. The German artist, Tobias Gremmler, provides this technology that is taking fame. Previously, he’s used already this kind of technology using fiber and particles to record kung fu movements. His work has been pretty famous on the Internet.

chinese martial arts
Re-Actor displaying 3D images
Photo source: Hakka Kung Fu http://www.hakkakungfu.com/exhibits/digital_interpretations_of_kung_fu_performance/
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Tobias Gremmler’s imagery map
Photo Source: Hakka Kung Fu https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pimrH3sOGk

The most important aspect of this cultural heritage protection project lies in displaying the capture of the real movements of every martial arts school, as well as the theory and inheritance of each martial arts school, including martial arts routines, weapon’s evolution and practical combat skills. Here are three schools: Iron-ox praying mantis, dragon style and Hakka boxing.

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Sei Mun Kyun by Yau Wun Wah sifu of Iron Ox Praying Mantis
Photo Source: Hakka Kung Fu https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGfwOChj0ss
Chinese Martial Arts
Lung Ying Mo Kiu by Yiu Sun Gwai sifu of Dragon Style
Photo Source: Hakka Kung Fu https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5e6An9j-t3c
Chinese Martial Arts
Hau Zi Sai Lim by Lui Hok Keung sifu of Ching Lung Tam Hakka Hung Kuen
Photo Source: Hakka Kung Fu https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUPC_l7cZ3k

Hakka Kung Fu

Hakka Kung Fu is a very important element of Southern Chinese martial arts. From the late Ming Dynasty to the early Qing Dynasty, during the long process of migration of a large population from northern China, the Hakka people were considered the weak ones, and they had to rely on others in order to survive, thus they began to develop their own systems of martial arts.

Hakka farmers honed their kung fu skills in the course of their daily work. And adapted everyday tools for training purposes.

Chinese Martial Arts
Grabbing a jar
Photo Source: Hakka Kung Fu https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDJJD8PBjeI
Chinese Martial Arts
Practicing with a sandbag
Photo Source: Hakka Kung Fu https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEnV534U9iQ
Chinese Martial Arts
Practicing with iron rings
Photo Source: Hakka Kung Fu https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znhcJhkTA6w

Using other farm tools as weapons.

Chinese Martial Arts
Deadly rake
Photo Source: Hakka Kung Fu https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJ6vy9ov4fA
Chinese Martial Arts
Bench used as a weapon
Photo Source: Hakka Kung Fu https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcb3a5HRubg
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A shield and a long pole
Photo Source: Hakka Kung Fu https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6L5w3WaisA

This is the traditional Hakka lion dance. It is a fusion between the ancient martial arts and dances, reflecting the peaceful and fearless spirit.

The project of the City University of Hong Kong and the Chinese Martial Arts Association has taken a further step towards the protection of Chinese Wushu. The exhibition is currently touring in Australia, so if you wish to do so, you can go and take a look at the world’s first martial arts heritage exhibition.

Reference source: Hakka Kung Fu

Chinese Martial Arts
The famous Hakka unicorn dance
Photo Source: Hakka Kung Fu https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAUhLVsVxNI
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