I love Chinese New Year. It’s the amazing colours, the amazing food and you’re always guaranteed a good dose of Kung Fu!
2015 is the Year of the Goat. If you were born in the years 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003 or now 2015; then according to the signs, you may be considered a kind, sensitive and gentle person. I leave it to you to decide if there is any truth in that.
The Cardiff celebrations were held at the Cardiff Bay Pierhead Building on Tuesday the 17th of February. It was brilliantly organised by Susan Wong, of the Cardiff Chinese Services Association (CCSA) and included singing, dancing, music, food and arts and crafts that all the family no matter what age could enjoy. There was something for everybody, even the slightly obsessed martial artist, like myself.
The event kicked off with a full lion dance complete with traditional drum and symbols, overseen by Sifu Jason Crabtree – 6th degree black sash. The Sifu is the senior instructor of the Cardiff Lau Gar Kuen Kung Fu, situated in Heath, Cardiff and has been named as one of the Lau Gar Guardians by its head, Master Yau. A guardian is a chosen trusted senior instructor tasked to continually improve the standards and profile of Lau Gar. Sifu Crabtree has been dedicated to the art for over 30 years and more than qualifies.
The drum roll started and the symbols clanged as the mythical lion woke from a pretend sleep to do its job of driving away bad spirits and cultivating good luck. It cleaned itself and bounded in to the building. The experienced team worked well together by bringing the Lion to life, exciting and scaring the kids in equal measure. It made its way to the stage where the announcer, Angela Kwok, teased it with a ball of lettuce. This is a traditional offering and if accepted by the Lion, will bring great fortune. Luckily for her, it took it.
The lion dance is an energy sapping exercise whether you’re continually holding up the head or bent over as the lions back. It takes a great deal of stamina, strength and flexibility as well as a sense of how the lion would convey emotion to its surroundings and the changing drum beat to make it appeal to the audience as a living entity.
Later on in the day, we were treated to a Kung Fu demonstration by Sifu Crabtree’s team. It started off with Lau Gar forms, performed to the Chinese folk song, ‘On the generals orders’ made internationally famous by Jet Li’s Once Upon A Time In China. Click here to view the film’s kung fu opening sequence.
Lau Gar is an external, ‘hard’ style kung fu that has short, fast hand movements from low stable stances and with low kicks. This was demonstrated to a great level on a relatively tiny stage.
The show went up a notch and the weapons were dished out giving us a glimpse of the Chinese Bo staff (Gun) and sword (Dau). The students got their Guns out (heh) and had a bit of a pre determined scrap while Sifu Crabtree unleashed his Dau.
Next on the list was the practical element of self defense when a female student successfully defended herself from a knife attack.
I thoroughly enjoyed the day. The Kung Fu, although kept at PG level so as not to scare the kids, was excellent and made me want to learn more about this traditional but practical art.
If you would like to learn more about Lau Gar, please visit the Wales website: http://www.lau-gar.com/