China kung fu girl group praised by Chinese diplomat for martial arts routine with modern twist

China kung fu girl group praised by Chinese diplomat for martial arts routine with modern twist The group's first video was posted online in early May and it has been an instant hit. Photo: Sohu
  • Top diplomat describes performances of nine-member group as 'stunning'
  • Group demonstrates martial arts discipline that embodies strength of femininity

A new all-woman martial arts ensemble in China has found friends in high places despite only making their public debut a few weeks ago.

The Emei Kung Fu Girls Group, which blends traditional skills with modern dance, has been praised by a top Chinese official and lauded on mainland social media.

A notable group member is Lingyun, a renowned Emei martial arts practitioner. She is joined by eight other women, including trainers and film directors who specialise in the ancient fighting genre, to complete the nine-member team.

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Lingyun, 25, from Sichuan province in southwestern China, is adored by 13.4 million fans on Douyin for her superb swordsmanship and martial arts ability.

She began training at the age of four, joining one of the three major schools of Chinese martial arts, the Emei sect, aged 10. The style of the sect embodies feminine strength.

In a video posted on May 3, the group was seen wielding swords, fans, calligraphy brushes, long spears, and Emei hairpins as weapons.

The Emei hairpin is unique to the sect, and as the name suggests, evolved from hairpins used by women. It has pointed spikes at both ends of a round stick.

The group has blended modern dance with traditional skills to deliver a 21st-century edge to their work. However, the style remains firmly rooted in traditional martial arts novels, a genre which combines history and fantasy.

In The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber by renowned martial arts novelist Jin Yong, the woman-dominated Emei sect is said to have been founded by a nun, men only occupy lower positions.

The sect originated in the Emei Mountain area of Sichuan province more than 3,000 years ago.

Its kung fu style blends the Buddhist concept of meditative tranquillity and the Taoist idea of harmony between man and nature, integrating the strength and flexibility aspects of other martial arts from a female perspective.

"What is Emei kung fu? Swift as clouds, flexible as water," says the martial arts group's introductory video.

In 2008, Emei martial arts was listed as an intangible cultural heritage by the Chinese government.

On May 11, a Chinese official recommended the group to the world on social media platforms.

Respected Chinese diplomat and spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wang Wenbin, wrote on Facebook: "Heroes out of Chinese martial arts novels! See how Emei kung fu girls present stunning moves."

"These girls are the pride of China! Millennia-old Chinese kung fu comes alive again," said one person on Weibo.

"Are they accepting disciples? My daughter also wants to learn Emei martial arts," another said.

There are two other major schools in Chinese martial arts, the Shaolin and Wudang sects.

The Shaolin sect originated from the Shaolin Temple in central China's Henan province and is known for its powerful martial arts.

The Wudang sect emphasises Taoist philosophy and focuses on utilising flexibility to defeat strength, with Tai Chi as its representative martial arts.

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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.

Copyright (c) 2024. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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