Monday, March 16, 2009

Ballet with blades (Verve)

For many people, the link between Chinese culture and martial arts is as strong as China's association with chopsticks. Kung fu star Bruce Lee made even more of an impact in the West than he did in Asia, where martial arts movies were popular long before his debut.

Lee moved with legendary swiftness and fluidity. Whether facing a single opponent or taking on a whole gang, his performances were never less than compelling. But another image of martial arts in the Orient endures - that of scores of Shaolin monks leaping and rolling in unison, practicing saber thrusts or honing daintily-named yet deadly techniques such as the "plum flower fist."

In Taiwan, one place has become synonymous with large-scale martial-arts displays of this kind: Neimen, in the hilly interior of Kaohsiung County. Neimen is a nondescript little town of 16,000 people. It lacks the distinctive culture and butterfly valleys of Maolin, the aboriginal district 25 kilometers east. Nor does it have any famous foods or signature handicrafts like those that draw tourist to nearby Meinong...

The complete article is in the March edition of Verve, EVA's inflight magazine.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hi Steven, I want to comment on your recent Taiwan Journal piece, but I can't find your email address for some reason. Drop me a line! Dave Silver