Kungfu, once used to defend in a remote southwest county in Hunan Province, has evolved into a popular workout among locals.Children KungFu in Shanghai
Living a leisurely life with his wife in Mayang Miao ethnic autonomous county in the city of Huaihua, Xiang Kuanhong's daily routine is to practice half an hour of Kungfu.
Watching him deftly practicing a range of complicated Kungfu styles with a weapon, it is hard to believe that the Kungfu master is already 81.
Feng Jiliang, 58, has been obsessed with Kungfu since childhood. His martial art school, which opened last year, has attracted more than 70 children from over 10 nearby villages.
"I did a survey and found that about 80 percent of parents here want their kids to learn Kungfu," said Feng. "A student of mine travels 40 km just to come here every day."
Kungfu is more than just defensive tactics. "Some introverted children became vivacious and some others successfully lost weight," Feng said.
"Many locals are doing the same thing as Feng," said Xiang Hongqing, head of a local martial arts association. Kungfu enthusiasts in the county have been to more than 40 schools to teach martial arts. Some even learned from famous Tai Chi masters in other provinces and then come back to promote it locally.
Zhou Zhipeng, a famous Chinese kickboxer, was born in Mayang. "Practicing Kungfu has nothing to do with violence, it is a way to improve our physical fitness and moral cultivation," said Zhou.
Women, too, are important Kungfu inheritors. Every day before work, Teng Zhaoying, 45, meets with her friends at 6:30 a.m. "Sometimes we practice by the river, sometimes in parks, we need to find a suitable site in advance because too many people are practicing," she said.
"Many of the office workers here are brilliant martial arts practitioners," said Li Weilin, the county's party secretary. "Mayang has eight Kungfu associations, and 322 venues to play martial arts. About one-fourth of our population of 400,000 now practice Kungfu."