Lord of the dance

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 March, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 March, 2005, 12:00am

Ha King-man is a member of an 80-year-old martial arts club set up by his great grandfather.

He has won a number of local and international lion dance competitions. He also teaches lion dance in six schools.

Young Post: How did you start?

Ha: I was born in a kung fu family. My great grandfather, grandfather and father were all kung fu and lion dance performers.

After seeing my father's students perform a lion dance, I asked him if I could join the class. I was only four years old.

I started with kung fu to build up strength in my legs, which is very important for lion dancers who have to balance themselves on stilts. Then I slowly moved on to lion dance.

YP: How did you pick lion dance as your career?

H: My father is the head of the family's martial arts club. Many companies and organisations invite us to perform lion dances at their celebrations.

I started to perform when I was in secondary school and sometimes helped my father train lion dance students. After Form Five, I became a master and set up my own lion dance team.

Now I teach lion dance in six secondary and primary schools. Also, I help my father run the club.

YP: What are the requirements for a lion dance instructor?

H: I had to take a training course organised by the Hong Kong Chinese Martial Arts Association. Only those who graduate can become instructors. I took the course when I was 17, but under new regulations, applicants have to be 21 or older.

YP: What is your position in a lion dance?

H: I'm the tail. I used to be the head, but as I became taller and heavier, I had to move to the back.

YP: How long have you performed with your current partner?

H: Seven years. My partner is like my brother. We work together very well and support each other.

I won all my international champion titles with him.

It is very important to find a good partner in lion dance.

YP: What difficulties have you come across?

H: I've hurt myself many times during practice, especially when jumping on high poles, which are about three metres tall.

One time my back was so badly hurt I couldn't perform for a few months.

Although lion dance is harsh on the body, I get a great sense of satisfaction when the audience applauds after I've completed a difficult move. I feel I've achieved something.

This is what keeps me going.

Name: Ha King-man/Age: 23/Occupation: Lion Dance Master