Cutting-edge ideas delivered

Local | Bernard Charnwut Chan 3 Mar 2021

The martial arts are a world-famous Hong Kong cultural heritage. Who hasn't heard of Bruce Lee and kung fu or Ip Man?

And while many traditional cultural practices are fading or threatened, martial arts are very much alive here. Students from all over Asia and the world come because of the many opportunities for training and schooling in combat arts.

Until recently I'd never thought much about the martial arts of Europe. That's why a new exhibition at Tai Kwun, Way of the Sword, was such an eye-opener.

It looks at Chinese and Italian warrior traditions, focusing on the use of batons and swords.

I learned that Italian weaponry traditions are considered the oldest in the world since they go back to the days of ancient Rome.

The Romans developed highly sophisticated blades and techniques for using them.

These traditions endured and flourished during the Renaissance, when everyone in Europe began looking for Italian sword-fighting masters to guide their training.

Back then the weapon of choice was the rapier, a long thin sword that is tricky to manage and requires skilled and swift hand.

The Italians, fans of style then as now, disdained crude sword-slashing techniques, preferring lightning quick thrusts and stabs.

It's fascinating to see and compare the Italian weaponry and antique instruction manuals side by side with our Chinese ones. I highly recommend a visit to this unique exhibit. It runs until April 4 and admission is free.

Bernard Charnwut Chan is chairman of Tai Kwun Culture & Arts Co Ltd.

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April 2021

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