Chinese netizens call martial arts summit a "cosplay convention for old people"

Dramatic pictures of Chinese martial artists have emerged online, drawing internet ridicule

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 August, 2013, 6:50pm
UPDATED : Monday, 05 August, 2013, 7:05pm

Photos of middle aged men dressed in lavish martial arts costumes have emerged online, and Chinese netizens have jokingly referred to the pictures as “cosplay for old people.”

The pictures, which were originally released by China News, were taken on 3 August at the Tianshan Wushu Symposium, a summit in China’s western Xinjiang province. The symposium, located on the Kalajun grasslands of Xinjiang, is a large-scale meeting for enthusiasts and practitioners of Wushu, or Chinese martial arts. According to organisers, participants at the symposium will not necessarily engage in combat, but instead come to learn, exchange views and promote their respective martial art styles.

The symposium’s visitors come from different Wushu sects, and the photos show them in various poses, sometimes with weapons in hand. One particular photo shows many participants standing side-by-side in costume. After the picture was taken, all of the men reportedly began to exchange business cards with great enthusiasm.

Chinese netizens have raised their eyebrows at the photos. Most Sina Weibo users commented that the symposium was a “cosplay convention for middle-aged and old people.”

Cosplay, which originated in Japan, is the popular trend of dressing up as characters from television shows, anime and comic books, and tends to be practiced mostly by younger fans.

“These guys are that old and they’re still dressing up for cosplay?” one surprised Weibo user wrote. “What a loss of face!”

“What kind of Wushu masters are these?” another asked. “They sort of look like the old people who practice tai chi out in the park every morning.”

Others were not nearly as critical, and pointed out that the men were legitimate Wushu practitioners who were only trying to promote their art.

“In this day and age, having people that support traditional Wushu culture is really something,” one netizen wrote. 'Their support is genuine."

Wushu, which was developed in China after 1949 as a means of streamlining disparate martial arts styles, has been recognised by the International Wushu Federation, which organises World Wushu Championships every two years. In the championships, which are separate from the Tianshan Wushu Symposium, fighters show the same sort of enthusiasm for Wushu as the men in the photos – although they do not wear lavish costumes as they do so.