Monthly Archives: April 2011

Where Are The Practice Lions?

Are there such things as practice lions, that are made for practicing lion dancing? How does a lion become a “practice” lion? I’ve been wondering about this for some time.

As you can see from our training videos, we usually just practice a bunch of stacking. There are just a few videos where we actually practice with with Ryan’s lion. This is because there’s not really a practice lion to use. So we’re lucky when Ryan has the time and is able to transport his lion to practice.

I ask Ryan about his all the time. He says that basically there are new lions, which are performance lions. These are new and beautiful and people don’t like to get them beaten up by practicing with them. Then, as these performance lions get worn down over the course of their performance lives, they gain sentimental value with the owner/dancer. If something breaks, it is fixed. Over time, the lion may even be put through a restoration process if things get bad. Because they have sentimental value and memories attached to them, they are not sold when they are old, get worn down, or after restoration. They are retired and stashed away as a keepsake.

I guess the only time people get to practice with actual lions is when someone is generous enough to let you use their lion to practice with or if you happen to find an old lion for sale, which I hear is rare. Or maybe you can try to make one to practice with? Either that or you bite the bullet yourself and get a new lion to practice with. Or perhaps, you go with the laundry basket or chair method for practicing lion dancing.

I mean, dragon boaters don’t practice in the bath tub and then get into a real boat on race day. So how do you people do it? I think the answer here, as with most things, comes down to money. You pay for a lion to practice with.

So I’m wondering if there are lions made out there that are are made specifically for practice purposes. No need for paint, fur, or decorations. As long as the mouth and eyes work and the weight is right, it’d be a good practice lion. Or maybe there are lions made that have imperfections. You know, like the Belly Flops of lion dance lions. Or perhaps the poorly manufactured ones that are more affordable? Where do you get those? Anybody know?


How It All Started

This is the room where it all started.

I was only 9 years old when I first walked into this room to learn kung fu and lion dancing. Although the class wasn’t very strict, I still stayed to learn as much as I could. The level of discipline in the class was shown very clearly; I wasn’t a very good martial artist or lion dancer by the time I left 5 years later. Yes, I did learn quite a bit (over 10 forms), but I could not execute them well. Furthermore, within a year of leaving, I forgot 90% of the forms that took me a gruesome 5 years to learn.

Two days ago, I paid a visit to my first Sifu and Simo. The kung fu class has changed drastically. In fact, they don’t even do lion dancing anymore. In order to focus on teamwork, my Sifu bought a baby dragon set, which utilizes a group of 8 adolescents. The class has also become smaller in size, which gives a chance for my Sifu to help students individually. The quality and discipline of the class has gotten much better, but can still go for some improvement.

Memories rushed through my brain as I stood at the doorway watching my Sifu teach the students. His teaching style is very relaxed, yet thorough. In my opinion, it would be much better for him to teach older teenagers and young adults rather than adolescents. Still, you can see the joy in his eyes as he teaches the kids. I still remember the times he would walk up to me to give me individual feedback as I did my forms. Oh, how I miss those days. My interests in kung fu and lion dancing has definitely stemmed from the experiences I’ve had in that room.


Photos Page Is Up!

The new Photos page has been created. We will be adding lion dance photos there.

Currently there’s only one album from the 2011 Oxbow Performance.

2011 Oxbow Market Chinese New Year Performance

This was performance we did at the Oxbow Market in Napa for Chinese New Years on Feburary 13, 2011. Alex and Jason was dancing a lion, Elissa and Pam was dancing another lion.

We did a few new puzzles for this performance. Alex and Jason did a snake puzzle. Elissa and Pam did a giant fish puzzle. This was a long marathon of a performance, almost 30 minutes of lion dancing I think.

Thanks to Thomas Chun for taking the performance photos.

32 Photos