Chinese worldwide are celebrating the Chinese New Year which would end tomorrow, on the 15th day or the full moon of the Lunar Calendar.
In Asian countries, it is very common to see Lion Dance performance throughout the 15 days of Chinese New Year. You would see agile youths, jumping, performing stunts and movements that requires the fitness levels of an athlete. So far, I’ve never ever seen a Lion Dance performer being overweight.
The highest fitness level is required. How do they keep themselves fit? A leader of the troop shared with me that they need to start the practice from as young as possible. Even though the performance is mainly centered around Chinese New Year (January or February every year), their practice is all year long.
Most of these performers are still schooling. But their practice is 3 times per week and each time takes about 2 to 3 hours. A high level of commitment is required. Each Lion would require 2 persons to hold it- one to hold the head (weighing about 2 to 3 kg) till mid section and another would be bent most of the time. Leg movements and positioning must be in unison so that both persons move as a single entity. If the coordination is out, the performance would look very unprofessional. No one would want to engage them again. That is why they practice very hard.
Not only is agility and fitness are important…. team work, trust and coordination are paramount to make the Lion Dance performance a success. Usually two or more lions are engaged to dance at a function and training is required for them to work together.
Furthermore, each environment is different. Sometimes the place is narrow or have many obstruction (such as in the case of an office). Each place is new and the Lion needs to learn to manourve around with the person at the back moving in unison.
During the long and consistent practice, friendship and bonds are formed. For those who have chosen this lifestyle, it is healthy and they’ve learned to develop strong bonds of friendship, teamwork, not to mention a high fitness levels. The high level of trust, coordination and teamwork is required for stunts- some Lion Dance are performed on high poles with the Lion (manned by 2 persons) jumping from pole to pole and standing up. The timing must be perfect and stamina levels the best. Many are in this for the love of Chinese culture- that they are willing to risk injuries and goes through the gruelling practice. A year’s hardwork applied mostly in two weeks practice where the money is not to say a lot- so there is a stronger motivational factor than monetary gains.
This is how a minority group of youths have choosen to spend their youth. Living in a healthy lifestyle. No doubt, I see many of them having their own iPhones but they’ve earned it and at least they do not spend every spare time in front of their computer playing games.
I’ve watched some of them grow up as we have engaged this company for the 3rd consecutive year to do performance at our department. The leaders and guides are really humble and honest and do their best to accomodate to our requests. If all business dealings with working adults could be that done that way then what a happy and peaceful world this could be.
I am going to leave you with the following video that I am thankful to be able to locate from YouTube- I hope you would love it, just like I did. I cannot resist watching this video repeatedly because it is the Lion Dance, performed in Gangnam Style
Very cute, very adorable, rite?
When you watch the video you would undoubtly notice how hard the performers had practiced and how amazing their level of fitness is. Hardly an ounce of fat tissue in them- they are very fit and strong from their commitment to consistent practice. And during the Chinese New Year, such troups would have to do the same performance few times a day, each time for up to an hour or two.
As ordinary working adults we may not achieve their level of fitness and would not be able to commit to the practice. But if we can find a sports that we love and a group of friends who share the same interest, perhaps the group can meet once a week. For example for a football game, surfing, cycling, futsall, running, gym class, etc.