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#260473 - 06/05/06 11:16 PM "Mo-See" aka Lion Dancing
IExcalibui2 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 05/20/06
Posts: 961
Loc: New York City
Since lion heads are supposed to "test" and show how skillful a kungfu man is and is always a great way for income for a school, I was wondering if any of you guys out there have had any experience with a lion head.

Also, this thought has always kind of lingered in my head. Ever since I seen the inside (and used one) of a lion head, I can quickly realize how much "kungfu"/skill is needed to really really operate it well (like Wong Fei Hung good, haha). Question is, do you think that a lion head can test how good martial artists from other arts beside kungfu?? (karate, TKD, muay thai, etc.)

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#260474 - 06/07/06 11:28 AM Re: "Mo-See" aka Lion Dancing [Re: IExcalibui2]
MattJ Offline
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I don't really see the relationship between MA skill and lion head dancing.
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#260475 - 06/07/06 02:17 PM Re: "Mo-See" aka Lion Dancing [Re: IExcalibui2]
Fisherman Offline
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Registered: 07/16/03
Posts: 1656
Loc: Colorado, USA
IExcalibui2,
Can you describe how the lion head is used? What kungfu skills or techniques do you find yourself using when operating the lion head?
Personally I don't see how the lion head can test ones martial skill. Seeing as how you have used one, perhaps you could provide some insight?
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#260476 - 06/07/06 03:03 PM Re: "Mo-See" aka Lion Dancing [Re: Fisherman]
IExcalibui2 Offline
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Registered: 05/20/06
Posts: 961
Loc: New York City
sure no problem

The lion head is basically a dome over you head with 2 bars on the bottom for you to hold. 1 hand is held onto the mouth to keep it closed while the other hand is on the bar to control the lion. You can simply just wiggle the head around but inorder to twist the head this way or make it blink or a combination of the 2 you sometimes have to let go of the bar and maybe use your elbow or shoulder, even your head. So there is alot of arm work inside the head that would resemble kungfu techniques (to me it reminds me of Wing Chun since your arms are so close together).

Also the head weighs a good 15, 20 pounds so moving that thing around will eventually get you tired. And both the head and the butt requires strong stance work. If you stance is weak you wont have any balance or anything, especially the tail if he is required to carry the head guy in anyway (on his lap, on his shoulders, just lifting him, etc). The tail is pretty hard as well since hes always bent over, which is a pain for the lower back. And his stances need to be extra strong to support the head man including the weight of the head. Without the strong base, the cool tricks wouldnt be possible.

lions
if you go to this link and then to "quality production" at the top and just scroll down to the very bottom you'll see what it looks like inside.

to be continued...

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#260477 - 06/07/06 05:00 PM Re: "Mo-See" aka Lion Dancing [Re: IExcalibui2]
theoldone Offline
Member

Registered: 03/05/06
Posts: 172
IE,

That was actually quite good.
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#260478 - 06/07/06 10:07 PM Re: "Mo-See" aka Lion Dancing [Re: theoldone]
IExcalibui2 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 05/20/06
Posts: 961
Loc: New York City
hehe thnks

though lions were originally used for celebrations and what now, schools began to adopt them into their curriculum because it was a great way to make money and publicize their schools, especially during Chinese New Years. Also it was quite logical, after all many of the techniques and stances were of kungfu origin.

But of course if one school has it then all schools will have it. After some time, people began to judge a school's skill from their lion dance. After all the better your stance work and strength the better and faster you can operate the lion. So the lion dance became a symbol of the school. You hafta be good to be under the lion, otherwise you'll just get everyone embarrassed. Since this became a big representative of the school, schools began to practice more and more with it to showcase their kungfu.

to be further cotinued...

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#260479 - 06/08/06 11:43 AM Re: "Mo-See" aka Lion Dancing [Re: MattJ]
monji112000 Offline
Member

Registered: 12/05/04
Posts: 177
The lion dance was used for a long time as a way of “fighting” other schools without fighting. Lions would compete against each other, and schools would pride themselves on their lion dancing skill. It takes a large amount of skill (coordination, timing, rhythm, power, speed) to be good at lion dancing. I have done it many times (I am not that good though). It was said that if you had a good lion dancing team you had allot of students. This isn't really the case in the western world. Everyone has lion dancing, and it doesn't really hold the level it used to be. there are two major style of (southern) lion dancing. Its pretty cool if you find someone who is really good at it, and you can learn. Wing Chun (IP Man) doesn't have a lion dance in the style. I would like to learn it again one day and add it to my skills.

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#260480 - 06/08/06 12:22 PM Re: "Mo-See" aka Lion Dancing [Re: monji112000]
IExcalibui2 Offline
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Registered: 05/20/06
Posts: 961
Loc: New York City
thnks monji for the addition
yea many of tricks and moves for the lion can also be attacks geared towards other lions when they are in a fight, designed to knock the other lion down. Tons of relflexes are needed, especially the tail man since he has to follow the steps of the head. And like mentioned above, it takes lots of coordination, rhythm, stamina, strength, and a whole bunch of other stuff, heheh.

Yea lion dancing now in modern times no longer holds such a important role in Kungfu other than the role to bring in additional money to the school and to be used and publicized during celebrations and such.

And yes traditionally Wing Chun doesnt really have lion dancing since they do not practice horse stance and crane stances and such but many schools still do lion dancing to get some money. Its a great way to raise money. And if you are good then more people would ask for shows and demonstrations throughout the year.

Another dancing animal that is similar to the Lion would be the Unicorn, mostly used by the Hakka Chinese people. And the Kungfu arts mostly associated with it would be of Hakka origin too, for example Southern Praying Mantis (my territory) though I have never operated or seen what the inside of the Unicorn looks like. It only takes 1 person to operate, making it significantly easier to dance with than a lion. Other than that I do not know too much about it.

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#260481 - 06/09/06 03:04 AM Re: "Mo-See" aka Lion Dancing [Re: IExcalibui2]
ButterflyPalm Offline
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Registered: 08/26/04
Posts: 2637
Loc: Malaysia
Did quite a bit of Lion Dancing a few decades back.

For those not familiar with it, here are a few tips for judging a good / proper dance. Like all dances, there are rules.

--- obviously there must be proper coordination between the moves and the music and certain beats of the drum means certain steps are used; e.g. a strong fast beat signifies that the head is lifted high up and a slow rythmic one, a crouch or a walk;

--- whenever the head is lifted, the feet must be either together or a unicorn step (one leg crossed over the other with the knees straight) and when the head is down, either a horse, forward or a walking stance;

--- at all times, especially when the head is lifted, the head dancer's face must remain hidden;
therefore you need a strong back and arms to keep the head slightly forward (arms almost straight) and at an angle, with the fingers controlling the flapping of the jaw, pulling the strings for the eyes and the ears at the correct point in time with the music and the story you are telling; and all the time not missing the rythm or beat and keeping the lion 'alive' and lively with animalistic energy;

--- the eyes blink and the ears twitch only when the head is down or the lion is 'walking' and most important of all, the jaw must be closed when the head is lifted; dropped immediately and starts flapping when the head comes down;

--- sometimes to get at the money, certain obstacles with traditional, auspicious meanings are placed in the lion's way -- like needing to climb a pole, cutting up a basket full of live craps, peel some oranges or coconuts and arranging the peel/husk in auspicious chinese characters befitting the occasion, break bricks, flower pots (anything you can come up with, within reason of course) so you need to carry a knife or scissors in the head AND do all this while performing the dance following all the rules, not missing the beat and keeping it entertaining --- like using body / facial language to express surprise, shock, disgust, anger, happiness, sadness etc. and making sure the head and tail do not bump into each other with the tailman flapping the body to indicate slow breathing or panting of the lion while being in a half crouch all the time.

After copious deposits of sweat by many generations of dancers, the inside of the head and the cloth body smells exactly like a sweaty lion.

There are various traditional scenarious to look out for at the beginning of the dance -- like a waking lion, lion coming out of a cave, lion testing the waters of a river (deciding whether to cross or not) looking for food and finding, tasting it, eating it and spitting out the husk, peel or skin.

Finally always look for good strong stances, crisp footwork, for without it, the lion is just dead.
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#260482 - 06/09/06 09:32 AM Re: "Mo-See" aka Lion Dancing [Re: ButterflyPalm]
IExcalibui2 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 05/20/06
Posts: 961
Loc: New York City
yeap Butterfly hit up alot of good points too

well now that we're all kinda acquainted with the art of lion dancing, back to my original question. Since lion dancing does in a way test your skills in kungfu, is it possible that it could test the skills of a person from a different MA??

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#260483 - 06/09/06 02:49 PM Re: "Mo-See" aka Lion Dancing [Re: IExcalibui2]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3219
Loc: Derry, NH
My friend/instructor, Ernest Rothrock, teaches the Lion Dance as part of his schools Northern Eagle Claw instruction. He studied this under Slum Leung in NYC.

The Lion Dance takes at least 3 people, 1 drummer and two for the Lion (1 for the head, one for the body). Somewhere I have a video he sent me of their effort. The head portion seems a very vigorous workoug, but he told me the most difficult part of the study was to learn the drumming to get it right.

Off hand I think the two people performing the lion change places but it's been a while snice I watched it.

I believe it is retained more for tradition in the Chinese community than for its pure martial application. The Chinese schools were more than just fighting emporiums. They were and are community members, and the public performance of the Lion Dance, is maintaining history of tradition in the art.
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#260484 - 06/09/06 06:33 PM Re: "Mo-See" aka Lion Dancing [Re: Victor Smith]
IExcalibui2 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 05/20/06
Posts: 961
Loc: New York City
Yea drumming is a very hard thing, not as simple as just hitting it with a stick. Your music has to have a lively sound to it otherwise it'll sound kind of dead. And drumming is a workout all in itself, forearms get hella tired.

The switching part depends on the pair thats dancing. Some pairs dont switch at all. For example, the professional competition teams, they dont switch because the head guy is specifically good at using the head, while the tail is good at that so they stay in their places. While other people would switch midway during their acts since its tiring.

And yea its more prone to Chinese and Kungfu people but it still takes a good deal of MA to work it. I'm just saying that you can take those priciples of lion dancing and apply it karate, TKD, whatever you want and see how well they can move the head and balance and such.

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#260485 - 06/10/06 09:25 AM Re: "Mo-See" aka Lion Dancing [Re: IExcalibui2]
Fisherman Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/16/03
Posts: 1656
Loc: Colorado, USA
Thanks for all of the info!
Very infomative.
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Chris Haynes

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#260486 - 06/11/06 10:10 PM Re: "Mo-See" aka Lion Dancing [Re: Fisherman]
IExcalibui2 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 05/20/06
Posts: 961
Loc: New York City
yea i love lion dancing..so cultural and it gives you a work out too! I'm pretty fascinated in my own culture (probably why I post so much here) and kungfu is part of it which leads to lion dancing.

Lion dancing is almost just becoming an art form of its own. Alot of new aged teams and dancers aren't trained in kungfu rather they just learn what is needed to do the lion dance. So they learn how to do a horse stance but not like shaolin monks do. Very much acrobatic dominated now in the competition levels..but kungfu dominated when it comes to parading in the streets.

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#260487 - 06/12/06 10:42 AM Re: "Mo-See" aka Lion Dancing [Re: IExcalibui2]
Fisherman Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/16/03
Posts: 1656
Loc: Colorado, USA
Definately seems more wushu/perfomance oriented.
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#260488 - 06/13/06 02:34 AM Re: "Mo-See" aka Lion Dancing [Re: Fisherman]
IExcalibui2 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 05/20/06
Posts: 961
Loc: New York City
well the lion dance has always been sort of a show for the public. Its for tradition and also for entertainment. So now alot of places arent even kungfu schools rather its a lion dance group who just train and learn to dance, not MA.

well wushu would help since its more of an encompassing art of most of kungfu. But different types of kungfu may give you different types of lion dances. Though of course most of it will be the same or similar, each type of kungfu is also different from one another and I guess if you're good enough you might be able to pick up on the subtle differences. Say a Tiger guy would look different from a Crane guy.

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#260489 - 06/14/06 01:16 PM Re: "Mo-See" aka Lion Dancing [Re: IExcalibui2]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!
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Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
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"In case you ever wondered what it's like to be knocked out, it's like waking up from a nightmare only to discover it wasn't a dream." -Forrest Griffin

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#260490 - 06/14/06 03:52 PM Re: "Mo-See" aka Lion Dancing [Re: MattJ]
Fisherman Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/16/03
Posts: 1656
Loc: Colorado, USA
nice find
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#260491 - 06/14/06 10:11 PM Re: "Mo-See" aka Lion Dancing [Re: Fisherman]
IExcalibui2 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 05/20/06
Posts: 961
Loc: New York City
some cool stuff I found, dont know if you can understand some of it though, its in chinese

drumming explained

buddha explained
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"you're going to work till you wish you were dead and then keep going.." -Sgt Slaughter

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#260492 - 06/16/06 06:47 AM Re: "Mo-See" aka Lion Dancing [Re: IExcalibui2]
songmei Offline
Newbie

Registered: 06/16/06
Posts: 8
i spent this years chinese new year in a small rural village (about 2500-3000people) in central china. and i saw lion dances, a lot of them. of course they were not professional, it is just local villagers who do this once a year. anyway, there were two larger groups of drummers (one from the west side of the village, one from the east). each group had about 8-12 people on the big drums, a few on small ones and others had cymbells. the lions were all hand-made, the head out of wood and iron and it was rather heavy. the bodiew were made out of clothing rags and animal fur. additionally to the 2 lion dancers they had one person teasing/fighting the lions, either with a type of ball or a pudao (horseknife). all age ranges participated, passing the lion costune on. there was an old gentleman, around 70 i'd guess who was amazying. jumping kics, low stances, everthing. and oddly enought everybody who participated (i'd say about 15-30people) seemed to know how to use the lion or the pudao (horseknife), without formal or proper martial arts training. it is sth that just gets passed on.

as for the other groups of martial artists doing lion dance... i think anybody can do it if they practice it. farming is different to martial arts, but it gives you strenght, co-ordination etc.

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#260493 - 06/16/06 10:13 AM Re: "Mo-See" aka Lion Dancing [Re: songmei]
IExcalibui2 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 05/20/06
Posts: 961
Loc: New York City
yup, lion dance isn't restricted to the martial artists anymore..just about everyone does it from common people, to kungfu people, to acrobats and gymnists, to whatever. There has to be someone to do the lion dance otherwise the village is never going to get any fortune or blessings. The people need to their new years so kung fu or not there will be a lion dance..or unicorn dance..or dragon dance...depends on where you're from.

Lions and Dragons are pretty much common to everywhere. Though northern lions (the gold fluffy, dog like ones) are not generally used for scarying away spirits, more like entertaining the emperor. So villages in "northern" areas (meaning non-Canton) would most likely have a dragon, though that is not always the case since Lion dancing has been around for a looooong time and has had lots of time to spread out. So a village would have either a dragon or a lion or both!

Unicorns are more common in places where Hakka people live. Hakka people are one of the many different ethnic groups in China. Kungfu arts such as Southern Mantis, Dragon, and Bak Mei come from them. A Unicorn is considered one of the mystical lucky animals along with the dragon, lion, tortoise??, and I think a few more. Its just that Hakka hold the Unicorn in higher perspective and so the Unicorn dance came to be. I dont know too much about it though, besides the fact that it has more Hakka like stances, its 1 person, and the music is different.

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