Martial artists celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year

CNC report from Vancouver
Added On February 22, 2013

The traditional Chinese Lantern Festival falls on February 24th, drawing the curtain of celebrations for the lunar new year.

Vancouver's Chinese New Year week celebration came to a close in spectacular fashion with a martial arts event, featuring some of the world's top martial arts practitioners, including Olympic champions and former world champions.

"Vancouverites got to experience the best of martial arts has to offer as the International Wushu Sanshou Dao Association presented the Extraordinary Martial Artists of the World Lunar New Year Gala on Sunday night. The show featured top martial artists from China, as well as around the world, in a host of different disciplines. Organizers plan to take the show on the road to promote martial arts around the world."

With the event being held out of China for the first time, the organizer's plan was to host the Extraordinary Martial Arts event in different regions of the world for three years to get together, learn and share with one another in the spirit of promoting the martial arts culture to the world.

Helen Liang, the daughter of International Wushu Sanshou Dao Association founder Liang Shouyu, said since her father started the organization in 1987, it has spread around the world with more than 100 affiliate organizations. She told CNC she started the group with the goal of promoting martial arts around the world to make people aware of the health benefits the sport brings.

"We have a lot of students coming from different cultural backgrounds, so it's really about East meeting the West. And It's not, again, just about, the performing, the application side, a lot of it's about the health benefits. So many of our students they're here to do say tai chi and qi gong and it's mainly primarily for health."

One of the more outrageous demonstrations of the evening was the 99 power iron crotch qi gong, where under the tutelage of Master Jin Sheng Tu, the practitioner lifted a 272-kilogram barrel using only his genitals. Master Jin, speaking through his interpreter son Jimmy, said because the male hormones and testosterone is all in that area, when one lifts weights and practices, it increases their health and vitality. Jimmy Tu told CNC about one of his father's more memorable feats.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH)JIMMY TU, 99'Power qigong practitioner
"So National Geographic actually came and interviewed Master Tu. And he pulled an airplane, so it was like about 10,000 pounds, so he pulled the airplane with his iron crotch."

Kelly Maclean (MAH-CLANE), a former member of the Canadian national wushu team, said she started training under Master Liang and fell in love with the esoteric nature of qi gong and wushu and the new ways she learned to move her body fascinated her. Yet, even after 20 years of practice, she is still learning new things.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) KELLY MACLEAN, Ex-Canadian national wushu team member
"Oh yeah, it's stunning. You know there are levels I feel, I will never jump like those people, and you know, there are people who are superlative, but I find them inspiring. I feel inspired by it more than anything. And there are certain things that I know I'm not going to do it in this lifetime, but I enjoy to watch." 

Spencer O'Barry is a former U.S. national wushu champion who has been involved in the sport for 12 years. With wushu currently up against six other sports to be added for inclusion in the 2020 Olympics, O'Barry says he likes wushu's chances to be selected for the Games.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) SPENCER O’BARRY, Ex-U.S.Wushu national champion
"I like the chances for wushu to be organized into the Olympics. I feel like it has a strong chance. There's a large following around the world. I believe many people have really benefited from practicing wushu, so I think it would be nice to see at the Olympics."

Despite martial arts being more well known in Asia, Liang, who started martial arts training at the tender age of four-years-old, said there is still a lot of work to be done in showing people of the benefits martial arts can bring for health, regardless of their age.

"It's still necessary because a lot of people might have misconceptions of martial arts, not truly understand the many different aspects of martial arts."

Vancouver will host its next big martial arts event from May 3rd to the 5th, when the second annual Canada International Martial Arts Festival is staged in the neighboring city of Richmond.