In the 2012 Olympic Games, China won 38 gold medals, 27 silvers and 23 bronzes; placing second overall. Some argue that just due to the sheer size of the country, and the rigid discipline they have, China can easily groom Olympic winners. I think it goes beyond that. Part of it belongs to its culture and way of life as well. The Chinese always have some level of fitness or exercise on their minds. Walk into any public park in the early mornings or early evenings and you will see groups of people both young and old exercising away.
They sway slowly to the music, or in the rhythm set by the leaders. Somehow it seems like they instinctively know what steps to take. There are groups of tai chi and wushu practitioners, fan dancers, and even waltz learners. Walk along the Bund in Shanghai and watch as old men take out their kites to fly, some slow and not so slow runners jog by. Walk along the Beijing Olympic Stadium arena and see similar groups, some even Lindy hopping!
The history of tai chi and wushu can be linked to old Chinese history, fan dances as well. Lindy hopping? I think that’s a brand new thing.
There are some unwritten understanding when it comes to these, you can’t just join in, unless I guess the group is big enough that you can slip in un-noticed. Some of them collect funds to pay the instructors, some just have instructors selected by the group. Whatever it is, don’t just try to slip away. Smile, thank the instructor and the team when you leave.
Perhaps it is a combination of things. With a one child rule, perhaps it is in the parents best interest to remain as fit as they can for as long as they can. Perhaps it is communal, a way to get together with old friends. Perhaps it is the need to find balance – peace and tranquility in a country of a billion. Perhaps it is all of the above.
As an outsider, it has never ceased to fascinate me. Running along the Bund in Shanghai, or walking through the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, even walking through the Beijing Olympic Park, I always enjoy watching the locals concentrate and immerse themselves in their daily routine.