Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Chinese New Year

As part of Radford University's celebration of the Chinese New Year, generations of students from the Cantonese Master Chi Chung (Simon) Kwong demonstrated forms from his system Dragon Tiger Eagle Kung Fu. I took the opportunity to photograph some action shots in the auditorium of the Hulbert Student Center on RU's campus.

Raising the camera ISO to 1600 allowed me to use a shutter speed of 1/250 of a second for the shots, which was still not fast enough to freeze some of the explosive movements of the scene. Martial arts practitioners utilize choreographed forms in order to develop technique, balance, and power. They often emote a flowing visual beauty. Unlike dance, each subtle movement can be applied to sophisticated aspects of personal combat. After many years of growth, the techniques can go beyond pure physical movement and demonstrate the channeling and manipulation of a form of energy sometimes called "Chi."

Chip Reeves demonstrated a form with a very large and intimidating weapon. According to Chip:

 "Form utilizing the Kwan Dao, a chinese weapon designed primarily for use from horseback. Many of the techniques in the form are also designed to cut down an approaching enemy on horse back, such as cutting the legs and/or head off of the opponents stuff!"

James Houston is seen here in an empty-hand form that was fast and whirling:

"I was doing the wind demon fist form, I had to cut the form a little short because of the small stage. It is a form showing technique common to northern styles of kung fu, particularly Buk Pai."

Along with James and Chip, we saw Tom Altizer in a form called Ba-Gi:

and Thai Chi stylist Paul Pallante with an elegant Chinese sword form:

As a final demonstration, we see Paul strike Simon Kwong repeatedly in the stomach with a 40lb dumbell. Simon , who is well known for his ability to withstand attacks, seems to find this amusing.

The New River Valley is enriched by this group of martial artists. They are genuine adherents to the traditions and realities that have evolved over the long and complex history of these fighting styles. Their knowledge is shared generously with a true goal of art over any financial gain. Its a great privilege to know them.

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