The 19th Asian Games: A Celebration of Culture, Sports, and Technology
A Grand Opening at Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium
The 19th Asian Games, an esteemed multi-sport event, unfolded its grandeur on 23rd September 2023 at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium. The centerpiece of the opening ceremony was the unique martial arts program ‘Nanhu Boat Boxing,’ a traditional Chinese martial art form that captivated the audience with its charm.
Nanhu Boat Boxing: A Testament to Traditional Chinese Martial Arts
The three-minute performance of ‘Nanhu Boat Boxing’ set the stage ablaze, winning applause from all corners of the stadium. The performers, thrilled and honored to perform on such a grand stage, expressed their excitement despite the nervousness of facing a packed audience. This memorable performance added an unparalleled chapter to their university life and left a deep impression on the spectators.
Behind the Scene: Preparation and Execution
The performance was meticulously prepared and executed by the Nanhu District Propaganda Department, Nanhu District Culture and Tourism Bureau, Nanhu District Wushu Association, Jiaxing Haihua Wushu Museum, Jiaxing Nanhu College, and Nanhu Ethnic Home. The team of 42 performers, leaders, and directors arrived in Hangzhou on the day of the performance. They went through two rounds of strict security checks before reaching the rest area to prepare for their act.
‘Nanhu Boat Boxing’: Symbolizing Jiangnan Boat Martial Arts Culture
‘Nanhu Boat Boxing’ was the only martial arts program in the pre-ceremony performance of the Hangzhou Asian Games opening ceremony. The unique style involved the use of long benches as boats and whips as cables to simulate practicing martial arts on a boat. This unique form of martial arts, using boat paddles and cables as weapons, is a reflection of the boat martial arts culture of the Jiangnan water town.
Relentless Rehearsals and Perfection
Since receiving the selection notice in July earlier that year, more than 40 participants from Haihua Wushu Museum and Nanhu College had been rehearsing day and night. They trained their physical fitness and made changes to the formation, timing, background music, costumes, makeup, etc., to provide the best stage performance for the Asian Games.
‘Nanhu Boat Boxing’: A Cultural Legacy
‘Nanhu Boat Boxing’ originates from the Wu and Yue culture and is the essence of Jiangnan ship boxing. It was highly evaluated by Mr. Jin Yong, who based the ‘Jiangnan Seven Monsters’ in his works on Nanhu Boat Boxing. The aim is to promote boat boxing through the Asian Games as it embodies the Jiangnan culture, canal culture, and tide culture. Han Haihua, the curator of Jiaxing Haihua Wushu Museum, who has been practicing martial arts since the age of seven, is determined to pass down this traditional martial art.
‘Nanhu Boat Boxing’: A Living Intangible Cultural Heritage
Thanks to the tireless efforts of Han Haihua and others dedicated to this art form, ‘Nanhu Boat Boxing’ was listed in the fourth batch of Zhejiang Province’s intangible cultural heritage list in July 2012. In November 2013, Han Haihua was rated as the representative successor of the fourth batch of Zhejiang Province’s non-heritage ‘Nanhu Boat Boxing.’
A Grand Showcase at the Asian Games
The performance of ‘Nanhu Boat Boxing,’ a beautiful blend of the softness of the Jiangnan water town and the brave and progressive sports spirit, was showcased splendidly at the Asian Games. It presented the new era style of the children of Nanhu to the world, symbolizing the strength and resilience of the new generation.
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