Kung fu town to build int'l martial arts conglomerate

Updated: 2011-08-03 20:19


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ZHENGZHOU - China's kung fu town of Dengfeng, where the famed Shaolin Temple is located, aims to merge its kungfu schools into a martial arts conglomerate able to provide top-rated shows and training for the overseas market, a local official said Wednesday.

The authorities will propose mergers of small and poorly-run kung fu schools while raising the registration requirements for opening new schools, said Wang Songwei, head of the martial arts administration of Dengfeng in central Henan Province.

Wang said the number of kung fu schools in Dengfeng will be halved to fewer than 20, but the number of students will be doubled to 100,000 by 2015.

China's kung fu schools usually enroll young kids and adolescents from the countryside, providing them education with a focus on martial arts training. Top students take the sport as a profession by competing in martial arts contests and participating in shows staged at various events, including the Beijing Olympics and the Shanghai World Expo.

Graduates of the kung fu schools can get recommendations to enter the military and police. They can also easily join the country's booming private security guard companies.

The development of kung fu schools has helped Dengfeng reap profits from shows and tourism.

But these schools have started to complain of a drop in the enrollment due to the dwindling population of rural kids and the easier access to standard education. Many schools are forced to offer high school courses to prepare the students for college.

Wang said the kung fu schools will increasingly focus on intellectual  subjects and not only physical education. "We don't want our students to be masculine but simple-minded martial arts masters," he said.

The official did not elaborate on plans of the martial arts conglomerate but said such a trend of development would enable kung fu shows to expand on the overseas market. No figures of investment were disclosed.

Kung fu gained its popularity in the world through the successful screening of mainland and Hong Kong kung fu movies beginning in the 1970s. The global enthusiasm put the 1,500-year-old Shaolin Temple, cradle of Shaolin kung fu, on the world map.

The temple itself has developed profitable business operations such as kung fu shows, film production and online sales under the business-minded abbot Shi Yongxin, who has been crowned China's "CEO monk."