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GUANGXI (Web Desk) – Ganxi Dong, a small village hidden deep in the mountains of Tianzhu in central China, is gaining worldwide attention for its unusually skilled residents. Apparently, everyone who lives in the self-sustaining village is a martial arts expert!


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The Dong people, one of the 56 recognised ethnic minorities in China, pride themselves for having shunned the outside world in favour of local tradition.

Apart from farming, every villager is well-versed in the art of kung fu, each one pursuing a different style of the ancient Chinese martial arts. They use a range of weapons including sticks, pitchforks, and their own fists.

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Images of the lush village are being widely shared on Chinese social media – they show several traditional huts nestled in the thick mountain forests.

The picturesque backdrop provides the perfect setting for villagers of all ages to practice kung fu – all by themselves and also by fighting each other.

Pic shows: Some people practicing Kung Fu. Locals in this village have every reason to be proud of their martial arts skills, after all not only have they been practising for three centuries – they even have a martial arts discipline named after them. And far from being a dying art, it's now so popular in Gundi village in Tianzhu County, in south-west China’s Guizhou Province, that even the women and the children join in as well as the men. Despite its official name the village is better known as "kung fu village", as all of its residents have a habit of regularly practicing martial arts in the mornings and evenings. The 123 households comprise Dong people, one of China’s many ethnic minorities, who have been living in the region for hundreds of years. The Dong even developed their own fighting technique known as the Black Tiger style, or "Heihuquan" in Chinese, which is characterised by its extensive footwork, acrobatic kicks, low, wide stance, and unique fist positioning. The fighting style also has a history of 300 years and has been kept alive with the regular practice sessions. As for the reason behind the popularity of kung fu in the village, locals claimed its roots lie in their ancestors’ need to defend themselves and their livestock from predators and bandits descending from the surrounding mountains. Others said it was because the Dong people were often discriminated against in the past and felt the need to stand up for themselves. In the past, only men practiced martial arts, but now women have also joined in. The tradition is also handed down from generation to generation. The villagers say they now practice the Black Tiger style for health reasons, although they also point out that it could still be useful if they ever have to fight off any ill-intentioned visitors. (ends)

The exact story behind the tradition is unknown, but the locals have two theories on how it all came about. According to one, there was a time when the villagers and their livestock were regularly attacked by wild beasts.

As a solution, a strong youth was selected from each family, to learn martial arts.

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These young men invented moves that imitated dragons, snakes, tigers and leopards, and passed their knowledge to other members of their family.

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Each family specialised and trained in a different style, giving rise to different strains of kung fu.

Another story goes that when families first began to settle in the region, they were frequently pillaged by their neighbors. So they invited a couple of martial arts experts to teach them how to defend themselves.

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They learned new skills and eventually passed them on to the rest of the village.

Nobody knows the true story of the now famous kung fu village, but the tradition of learning kung fu is still alive and thriving among the 123 households of Guanxi.

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And as the youth are now leaving to work in cities, even women are being encouraged to study kung fu in an effort to keep the tradition alive.