Ladies Get a Kick out of Boxing
Chinese ladies are taking up self-defense training that combines boxing and martial arts. They're choosing power and grace over milder pursuits and say kung fu makes them confident. Fei Lai reports.
Sweating, punching her opponent and releasing her energy, Sharon Xia feels powerful and exhilarated.
It's just the second boxing session for the 27-year-old office worker at IKEA, but already she is completely absorbed and feels she is getting stronger.
Xia's even thinking about buying a dental guard and plans to talk to her coach. She is about 1.6 meters tall and of medium build. No fancy workout duds, just a T-shirt and plain pants.
Xia practices at Longwu Kung Fu Center where she pays 500 yuan (US$73.30) a month, gets an instructor and attends different classes.
More and more Chinese women are no longer shrinking from flexing their muscles, and using their gloved fists if necessary. They are taking courses in self-defense, boxing, kung fu, kick-boxing, Wing Chun, karate and other martial arts to train mind and body.
"Classes like yoga are too soft, while kung fu is all about combat and strength," says Guo Liang, executive director and chief instructor at Longwu Kung Fu Center.
"Though going to the gym is popular, the trend is for more women to look for a different kind of workout that can sustain their interest in fitness," he says.
Women tend to give up easily at the gym after one or two months when it becomes familiar, he observes. In contrast, the diversity of women's self-defense training is fun and interactive. "Women gain real skills to protect themselves in case of danger," he says.
After doing yoga for a year and a half, Xia shifted to boxing, calling it a shift "from being mild to being strong - strong enough to face work pressure and, more importantly, to face sudden attack."