Shaolin Warriors bring martial arts to IU Auditorium

The Shaolin Warriors punched, kicked and flipped onstage Thursday night in the IU Auditorium to deliver a martial arts-based performance. The show was part of China Remixed, a spring culture festival presented by the Arts and Humanities Council.

Martial arts helps give warriors a sense of purpose in their lives, four members said during a pre-show discussion open to the public. They explained how they train in academics and martial arts for more than eight hours each day and must reach a certain level of expertise before being allowed to perform in the show.

“Shaolin Warriors: the Legend Continues” played out scenarios in which group members could show mastery of technique and complex skills using weapons, props and their own bodies.

At one point, young audience members were brought to the stage to imitate moves one of the warriors demonstrated.

Auditorium director Maria Talbert compared the performance to Blue Man Group and shows like STOMP but said this is the first time the Auditorium has presented an event of its kind.

“It’s an honor to host these artists, who train their entire lives to become masters of their craft,” Talbert said in an email.

Like the auditorium itself, some audience members also experienced the Shaolin Warriors for the first time.

Freshman Sara Zhang, who is Chinese-American, said martial arts has played a large role in her family. She came to the show with her two sisters, who are also IU students, and said her family likes to watch martial arts movies. When he was younger, her dad even learned martial arts skills from his own father.

Zhang’s interest in martial arts has been affected by her culture, she said. She said she has known about the Shaolin Warriors since she was a child and likes that they have a spiritual connection with their practice. She said she looked forward to seeing that aspect played out in front of her.

“On TV it seems so flawless, but it’s going to be more emotional, and you’re going to see how hard they’re actually working,” Zhang said.

Sophomores Megan Arnold and Kyle Turner attended the show together to experience the thrill of the art form.

Arnold had never seen the Shaolin Warriors before and said was eager to see the suspenseful tricks the warriors performed. She said she was amazed they train their whole lives and then bring their work all the way across the world to Indiana to show what they can do.

For Turner, the warriors’ performance was more familiar.

He first saw one of their shows when he was 5 years old and said he wanted to come back to see if he could feel the same excitement as he did the first time around. He remembered watching sword-fighting the most.

“When you’re 5 years old, that’s really exciting, and it sticks with you,” Turner said.

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