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[ By | 28 Jun 2009 | No Comment ]
Martial arts dreams: Qiu Bao endures despite tough conditions

In hopes of becoming the next Bruce Lee, 10-year-old Qiu Bao endures demanding training at the Zhao Changjun Wushu Institute, a martial arts school located in the suburbs of Xi’an. For Qiu and his classmates, the tough conditions represent a test of character in a hoped-for tradeoff for a better future.

With a half-dozen ceiling fans pushing around the hot, humid air in the school gymnasium, Qiu does his best to keep up with the grueling daily routine. He dashes down a strip of burgundy carpet, sweat pouring off his face, leaps in the air, sticks his landing and returns to the back of the line to repeat the process.

But the heat and exertion take their toll. During a subsequent drill, Qiu falls, hitting the ground with a loud thump. Hastily righting himself, he steals an apprehensive look at his two trainers. Then, in the last group routine before a break, he lags behind the other students, clearly exhausted, with bruises visible on his slim legs. Yet by the end of the drill, he manages to stand straight and tall, ultimately triumphing over his shortcomings… Shortcomings will have to disappear if Qiu hopes to ever prove that he can master this demanding vocation.

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[ By | 27 Jun 2009 | No Comment ]

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.

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[ By | 24 Jun 2009 | No Comment ]

“Can I smoke in here?” said Wu Jiang, 27, glancing around the lobby of a Beijing hotel with annoyed nonchalance. Without waiting for a reply, the shaggy-haired film student lit up his cigarette with a hint of rebellion.

“I started to listen to rock ‘n’ roll,” he said when asked when his interest in shaking the status quo first began. “I wanted to be a rebel.” While many of his high school classmates prepared to enter university, he waited until a few years ago to enter one of China’s most prestigious film universities — the Beijing Film Academy.

Wu said his parents have rejected his choice of career and lifestyle, preferring that he establish himself in society as a “normal” person without calling attention to himself.

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[ By | 5 Jun 2009 | No Comment ]
Making the Monkey Style dream come true

Once upon a time, four friends drinking together at a bar in Beijing discovered that three beer cans placed together resembled a monkey. Today, four years later, their company, Monkey Style, is growing into a brand that caters not only to the city’s burgeoning population of skateboarders but ordinary young Chinese who find confirmation of the city’s new urban cool in the trucker hats, T-shirts, sweatshirts and shoes that bear the monkey logo. Although the four partners are convinced the search for new means of personal expression. . . .