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Kung fu masters set for Expo

2009. 30 October

by Yang Jian
( Visitors to the 2010 Shanghai World Expo will be able to see the invulnerable "iron skin" and the invincible 18 bronze monks from China's Shaolin Temple.

And they'll also be treated to qinggong, the Wudang Taoist Temple's "light body skill" that can help people vault over walls.

Masters from the country's centuries-old and most famous martial arts groups will also teach visitors some basic kung fu at the 2010 event in both Chinese and English.

The Shaolin and Wudang temples yesterday announced they would send martial monks and Taoists to the Expo.

Shi Yongxin, the 30th abbot of Shaolin, and Li Guangfu, the chief master of Wudang, signed contracts at the Expo bureau in Shanghai.

More than 50 Shaolin monks, including young and senior ones, will perform Shaolin boxing and hard qigong (a kind of deep breathing exercises that can make the belly or the top of head invulnerable to knife and sword) four times each day during the 184-day event at outdoor squares around the Expo site.

Many martial art skills that have never been performed publicly, including some of the Shaolin 72 Skills, the magic-like martial arts that can destroy wood and stone by fists and palm, will be on display, Shi said. The 72 skills are seen in many Hong Kong kung fu movies.

At the end of each performance, monks will invite visitors on-stage for lessons in basic Shaolin kung fu.

Some English-speaking monks will teach visitors from foreign countries, he added.

Shaolin will also give a 45-minute stage show involving martial arts and acrobatics about the daily lives of Shaolin monks. Those will be in July and August.

The Shaolin kung fu helps people maintain healthy lives, which is in line with the "Better City, Better Life" Expo theme, Shi said.

Shaolin regards the Expo as a prime showcase for Chinese and Shaolin cultures, he added.

The equally famous Wudang will dispatch 60 Taoists ages 20 to 30 to the Expo site from July to September.

The Taoists will wrap boxing, swordsmanship and stick work into a stage show that will tell the story of the legendary Zhang Sanfeng, who is believed to have achieved immortality and founded the Wudang Taoist Temple in the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

Wudang wants to promote its "harmony" concept by showing its kung fu to world visitors, Li said.

Shaolin is famous for its powerful attacks, while the soul of Wudang kung fu is to conquer the strong by soft power, shifting heavy weights by a minimum force.

The Shaolin monks and Wudang Taoists may also fight for mastery of the Expo, according to Li.

No extra money will be charged for the performances.

The 2010 Shanghai World Expo will have a total of 20,000 sessions of performances.