A Gung-fu success story
In the trendy Maoming Road section of Shanghai, Longwu Kung Fu has established itself as a popular martial arts center among both local Chinese and foreigners as well. That is thanks in large part to the studio’s owner, Alvin Guo, who has dedicated his life to the study of wushu, as martial arts is known in Mandarin, since he was three years old.
Guo was captain of the prestigous Shanghai Wushu Team for 12 years, as well as a three-time national champion, until an ankle injury forced him from competition to become the Chief Instructor and Director of his wushu center.
“Kung Fu is getting [more] popular,” says Guo, now 32. About 60 percent of his clientele are Westerners, the rest Chinese. At the center, the walls are decorated in dragon images and Chinese characters and the place is filled with representations of Chinese culture. Guo himself is a model of success in business that many Chinese are striving to achieve today.
In metropolitan cities like Shanghai, where the quality of life is higher, people pick up wushu as a hobby and if later they decide they don’t like it, they leave, Guo explained. “But wushu is a way of life for many,” he added. When he was a child his parents made it clear for him that if he were going to pursue Wushu, then he would need to make the commitment to stick with it. He promsed he would and he kept his promise.
As he rose to prominence in wushu competitions, Guo managed to open his own martial arts center. “I always wanted to own a center,” says Guo. He now has 15 instructors and clients that range from ages five to 65.
Guo says the tradition of martial arts has changed. “Wushu is more open now,” he said. Anybody who is willing to learn traditional martial arts can do it, even foreigners, he said.
Long ago, the teacher or master would select his students and pass on the knowledge. For centuries, teachers would even keep some of the secrets and never reveal them. But that was then. Today, the martial arts are seen as a sport, said Guo. Now it’s an opportunity for someone to improve his or her quality of life.
“When nobody is around, I practice,” says Guo. And the opportunity to practice in his own center, he feels, is his dream come true.