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Martial Arts Gala: Wulin or Cosplay?

'Kung Fu Masters' dress up and get on with wuxia action at a kung fu convention


The mysterious wulin (武林, martial arts circles), where practitioners of martial arts train in their specific schools, have long thought to have disappeared. Wulin Dahui (武林大会), the martial arts gala, where masters of these martial arts schools come together to compete, have also receded into wuxia (武侠, martial arts hero) novels and kung fu films. However, “sect leaders” (掌门人 zhǎng mén rén, head of the school) of the long lost martial arts community gathered in Urumqi on August 6th to take part in the “Tian Shan Martial Arts Gala” (天山武林大会).

A convention where reality meets fiction, leaders of ten legendary schools, such as 武当 (Wǔdāng, a Taoist kung fu sect, the protagonist from 《倚天屠龙记》 The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber belongs to this school), 崆峒 (Kōngdòng, a Taoist kung fu sect), 昆仑 (Kūnlún, a Taoist kung fu sect), 华山 (Huàshān, a Taoist sword sect, the protagonist from 《笑傲江湖》 The Smiling, Proud Wanderer is from this school), and 峨嵋 (Éméi, a school for female martial artists, such as depicted in 《神雕侠侣》 The Return of the Condor Heroes), met to compete, practice, and exchange Kung Fu knowledge and skills.

The Wulin revival has been met with enthusiasm online, as netizens exclaimed: “Master Wang Lin has left, but these masters have stepped up!”, “Is this really not a middle-aged cosplay convention?”, and “How dare they not have invited chengguan!”

Here are some pictures of these masters, and a video of the extraordinary event where they engage in one-on-one kung fu matches at the bottom:

wulin masters


Image courtesy of Weibo and caijing.

Up for some martial arts cosplaying yourself? Learn how to speak kung fu language.

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