The story of a young man’s journey pursuing his dream to become a Kung Fu master. A spiritual path to be conquered for him to reach enlightenment, begins with him becoming a monk; facing many obstacles, both physical as well as in his own mind. How will he overcome his fears to become the Kung Fu master he is meant to be? The story of the martial art performance at the Red Theatre Beijing may be a bit of a cliché, although receiving a lot of praise for its impressive choreography and amazing feats of skill and fitness. Incorporating the ancient Chinese martial arts commonly referred to as Kung Fu, acrobatics and a touch of ballet, along with a magnificent score and smoke machines, the popular show is an aesthetic tour-de-force on the thrilling highway of Beijing nightlife.
Kung Fu is generally thought of as the traditional Chinese martial art more correctly called Wushu, literally meaning martial art in Mandarin. The Chinese term kung fu originally refers to any kind of activity involving patience, energy and skill often including some form of martial art. One could say that a person has a good kung fu in cooking or dancing, implying that the person in question has worked hard for the skills in that particular activity; with the term kung fu meaning “achievement of man” or “work and time/effort” depending on how the words are interpreted. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the term kung fu as “a primarily unarmed Chinese martial art resembling karate”, giving the term a slightly different meaning in the west. Regarding the Kung Fu Show of the Red Theatre in Beijing, the term could be interpreted in either way, since the show includes work, time, effort and martial arts, or as referred to in China; Wushu.
The origin of the Chinese martial art is said to have its beginning in a legend, introduced by Huangdì, the Yellow Emperor, over 4000 years ago (around 2500 BC). Following a decisive victory against the Nine Li tribe and its leader Chiyou, the victory was celebrated by dramatizing the fight, leading to the birth of the Chinese art of wrestling “jǐao dǐ”; i.e. the traditional Chinese martial art. The evolution of “jǐao dǐ” split into two different paths, one evolving into the Chinese form of acrobatics, “zá jì”, and the other into wushu, later becoming the famous Shaolin style of kung fu.
The Kung Fu Show of the Red Theatre in Beijing is described by many as an impressive show of acrobatics and ballet; a world class performance. Still, the martial art part of the show has received mixed reviews; some describing it as a wonderful display of kung-fu wushu, others complaining about the weak story, strong presence of ballet and hilarious American English voiceovers, comparing it to a child’s play rather than a fully-fledged martial arts show. Most visitors rate the show highly, praising the entertaining theatrics and talented performers, making the Red Theatre well worth a visit for car lovers and tourists alike. Considered a must if spending any amount of days in Beijing, China.
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