Chinese martial arts association to apply for UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage status

By Ji Yuqiao Published: 2020/6/14 19:46:15

Bruce Lee displays his unique Kung fu skills in a scene from the film 'The Chinese Connection', 1972.Photo: VCG

China's Chin Woo association, a martial arts association made famous around the world by Bruce Lee in the film Fist of Fury, took its first steps on the journey to becoming a World Intangible Cultural Heritage on Saturday, as it approaches the 110th anniversary of its founding. 

The Chin Woo Athletic Association in East China's Shanghai Municipality announced on Saturday that it is preparing to apply to UNESCO for the association's martial arts culture to be recognized as a World Intangible Cultural Heritage. In China, the association was listed as a National-level Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2014, according to a report from Chinese news site The Paper.

Starring Bruce Lee, the film Fist of Fury hit theaters in 1972, bringing the Chi Woo association and its founder Huo Yuanjia into the global spotlight.

Fist of Fury set a new Asian box-office record in 1972. 

"It was popular in many places including Hong Kong, Japan and Southeast Asia, especially since it was seen as a strong banner against racism and colonialism around the world," Shi Wenxue, a film critic based in Beijing, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Lee's stunning performance in the movie captured the attention of audiences around the world, inspiring them to want to learn more about Chinese martial arts, Shi added.

The film tells a story of Chen Zhen, a student of Huo's who seeks revenge for his master's death and uses brilliant kung fu moves to fight for his association's honor in the face of foreign imperialism.  

Wan, a kung fu movie fan working in Beijing, told the Global Times that his addiction to the kung fu genre and admiration of the Chi Woo association started from Fist of Fury

"It will remain a classic in my heart forever," he said.

The Chin Woo Athletic Association was established on July 7, 1910. Over the past more than 100 years it has set up 76 branches around the world. 

Masters of various styles of Chinese martial arts such as the Xing Yi Quan and Tai Chi styles joined in the association to teach students due to Huo's reputation, thus increasing the influence of the association and its culture. 

Xue Hairong, current vice chairman of the association, said that they wish to attain World Intangible Cultural Heritage status to promote the spirit of the Chi Woo association to the world.

"Chi Woo was founded on the martial arts, but the core of the culture is a spirit of patriotism, cultivating morality, defending justice and helping others," Xue said. 

"This culture does not just belong to China, but is part of the common heritage of humankind. One of the best ways to have global society accept this culture is to have it declared a World Intangible Cultural Heritage."

Preparation work for the application includes building a museum dedicated to the Chi Woo association, according to the report from The Paper. 

Posted in: FILM,ART

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