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Chinese martial arts schools also perform lion dance in addition to practicing their style. It is a cultural dance in which two performers mimic a lion's movement underneath a lion costume.

I've seen these things performed by different schools (in the Chinatown area) for events such as banquets and festivals. During my trip to China, I also stayed at a hotel that was part of a very large wushu school that also practiced this.

Are questions about lion dancing on topic for the site or not? There are organizations that perform lion dance that don't practice martial arts. Despite that, I feel like it would be bad to exclude that aspect of martial arts if it is a part of the culture and art of what someone is studying in his or her school.

I guess the question could be applied to dragon dance too.

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A Shaolin teacher once told me that the lion and dragon dances are meant to be performed using the body-principles found in the martial arts. In other words, the reason the lion shakes its head, for example, is because you're sitting in horse stance and properly punching from the kua (waist, hips). I suppose it is a way to show off your school's martial skills to the community without giving it away to rival schools.

He also said that many places that used to pay martial schools to perform the lion dances will now only pay professional, non-martial dancers. Singapore has professional lion dancer troupes. Local businesses there would hire them instead of martial schools for various reasons (price, marketing, look flashier, martial schools in decline, etc., I don't really know). In other words, as martial schools continue in decline, traditions strongly associated with martial arts will weaken.

I say these dances are on topic in the same way that asking questions about tournaments and cage fights are on-topic. If the people asking will perform with a martial intent, then this is on-topic. If they are asking about ways to make things flashier that will compromise or disregard martial training for the sake of performance, then the question is probably not appropriate.

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I would say it should be on topic if it relates to martial arts (semantics do matter there) and not if it does not. Same goes with dance, instrument playing, and singing: in the context of capoeria they should be on topic. In the context of the Don Giovanni opera, they are not -- yes, this is a challenge! ^_~

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    From what I know of lion-dancing (a respected acquaintance of mine is quite adept in it), it is most definitely related (as taught in wushu) to the martial arts, and is often used as a display of skill of the school. If, however, we're equating it to two guys in a horse costume, then it's definitely off-topic. – stslavik Feb 8 '12 at 16:59
  • If the style of the dance incorporates many of the techniques of the school much the same way that forms and katas incorporate basics then it should definitely be on topic. – Zephyr Feb 10 '12 at 14:50
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I think that it would be generally off topic and/or too localized.

Ask yourself: is the dragon dance performed as an integral part of the actual martial art, or is it performed as part of the culture of the region/country, or is it part of the culture of the particular martial art or school?

I doubt that it is intrinsic to the actual martial art. Even if it is part of the culture of the school, it would be too localized because it would be specific to that school. While the question would certainly have value to you, it is unlikely to have much value to other members.

  • Various schools may dance in certain ways and have their own style much like martial arts, but I think any large distinctions are more regional (Northern China, Southern China, Taiwan). I misspoke when I said lion dance it part of a school's culture. What I should have said was that it is also part of the Chinese culture and the Chinese martial arts world. – Matt Chan Feb 8 '12 at 13:24
  • That would suggest excluding Martial Arts that don't have enough practitioners. – Robin Ashe Aug 27 '12 at 5:06

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