Legend has it that lion dancing originated in China during the Tang dynasty, when an Emperor was troubled by a nightmare, which ended after he was saved by a rare and strange beast: the lion. An important part of New Year celebrations, lion dancing has long been associated with Southern Chinese systems of kung-fu, an association that dates back to the days of the Ching dynasty, when revolutionary martial artists used the lion dance as a secret means of communication. For today's student of kung-fu, the lion dance offers vigorous cardiovascular exercise as well as stance and weight training - all rolled up in one cultural package.
Everyone who studies kung-fu soon realizes the value of learning traditional Chinese weapons in addition to empty-hand forms. Students are also introduced to the respect and courtesies due their sifu (teacher) and fellow practitioners. And most serious kung-fu students take the time to learn something about the culture that gave birth to, and nourished their martial art. However, one of the most important training and cultural aspects of Chinese martial arts is often overlooked by even the most serious of students.
The lion dance, a subject with which every student of Southern kung-fu systems should be familiar, is one of Chinese martial arts most valued training methods Ñ and it is also an excellent source of historical information in regards to kung-fu. Unfortunately, lion dancing is often overlooked in many kung-fu schools that teach Southern Chinese styles.
The Lion Saves An Emperor Lion dancing originated during the Tang dynasty (618-906 AD). Legend has it that the emperor had a dream one night in which a strange looking animal saved his life. The next morning, the emperor described the dream to his ministers. One minister told the emperor that the strange animal resembled a creature from the West, a lion.
Since the strange animal saved the emperor in his dream, the lion quickly became a symbol of good luck throughout China. It was believed that a dancing lion chased away evil spirits. Today, lion dancing is still the most important opening ceremony for Chinese events and businesses. It's also a necessary ritual for businesses during the time of the Chinese New Year, for lion dancing evokes good luck in the upcoming year. Lions are not native to China, which explains why the "lion" in the dance acquired characteristics of the Chinese dragon and phoenix. Lion dancers are always kung-fu practitioners. First, lion dancing requires the dancers to develop strong stances, since the lion head is heavy and the tail position for the rear dancer is awkward. Lion dances can be lengthy, requiring the dancers to possess excellent physical conditioning and stamina.
Whatever the occasion, you will attract plenty of attention and of course good luck with a traditional Chinese Lion Dance and drumming. A basic Lion Dance routine will take 10-15 minutes, and can be done on an area of 4x5 metres, although more space is prefered. We have an adults size black and golden lion, an adult size red lion, and a children's size red lion costume.
Lion Dance can also be done in conjunction with Kung Fu or Tai Chi demonstrations (click below for the Activities page). Contact us to discuss possibilities and cost. Book early, so we have time to arrange for a full team.