A HISTORICAL PUNCH

Researchers are using 3D motion capture to document kung fu before it disappears

The art of kung fu is thousands of years old. But the methods to document it haven’t developed much. Knowledge of kung fu is traditionally shared orally, or with simple illustrations. But these old, basic methods are no longer sufficient to preserve this ancient art form, which is dying out because of a dwindling number of practitioners.

So a team came up with a modern way of documenting kung fu, using 3D motion capture. International Guoshu Association, a non-profit organization, launched the “Hong Kong Martial Arts Living Archive” initiative, in collaboration with City University of Hong Kong, to document and study kung fu using digital technology. As you can see in the video above, they’ve started with the Hakka style of kung fu, which is prevalent in southern China. They say the technology can be applied to studying other schools of the practice.

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