China is by far one of the most unique and interesting nations to travel too. From the innovation to the commitment to culture and tradition, a trip to China seemingly has it all. Without sacrificing their cultural roots, the Chinese have been able to incorporate a modern fusion that separates them from their global neighbours. But what comes to mind when someone first explores the idea of visiting China? Let’s be honest, aside from many incredible attractions (The Great Wall of China for instance), many let their minds wander to their favorite Chinese action thriller. Kung Fu and Tai Chi are a few martial arts that come to mind when thinking about China. Some people truly believe that all Chinese citizens are masterfully trained in martial arts, and could effectively pounce into action at a moment’s notice. Although epic, this train of thought does not accurately represent Chinese society.
The historical origins of martial arts in China, especially Kung Fu, are extremely fascinating. Originating in dynasties centuries ago, such martial arts were established as an efficient tool to combat external threats. It was meant to be used to defeat opponents using “hard” and “soft” methods, typically targeting joints and focusing on pressure points in the body. It has since transformed into more than just a method of attack, and has branched into hundreds of different varieties, with regional variations being formed. It is a pretty impressive art that combines patience, strength and beauty. When you watch someone perform a martial art such as Kung Fu, you can see both the peace and pure strength the performer has.
Now, where can a traveller go to get the most authentic and diverse Kung Fu experience? Since there are numerous varieties of Kung Fu, it can be overwhelming to decide which performance to visit. One great performance occurs at the “Red Theatre“ in Beijing. The current production takes the viewer on a martial arts journey through the life of a young boy. The boy goes through the different stages of life, and takes the audience with him through beautiful performances that showcase the mastery of Kung Fu performers. The end of the boy’s path takes the viewer to the stage where he finally reaches enlightenment. It is amazing such a deadly, powerful practice can result in such grace and achieve peace, and such performances leave the audience in awe.
Sometimes we think we have seen it all. In today’s society, it can be difficult to be “wowed” by the world, due to the constant bombardment of information. However, if a trip to China is in order, it is highly recommended to visit a piece of traditional and modern Chinese society by enjoying a martial arts performance. Unable to score tickets to such raved about performances as the Red Theatre? Try to soak in some of the Chinese culture through walks through Beijing’s Dongcheng District or Haidian District (home of the old and new summer palaces). It is impossible to not return from your travels feeling inspired by the Chinese fusion of tradition and modernity.