ZJ Cool Guys: Farmer makes a splash with river-crossing art on bamboo

2019-07-15 09:30:42 source: 中新网英文版

  

Fang Shuyun, 54, a native of Jiande City, crosses Xin'an River using two bamboo poles in Jiande City, east China's Zhejiang Province, July 11, 2019. Fang learned the trick when he was a kid. (Xinhua)


  HANGZHOU, July 12 (Xinhua) -- On the wide, misty Xin'anjiang River surrounded by lush green mountains, a thin Fang Shuyun wears a rain cape and a straw hat, and stands calmly on a bamboo in the water like a legendary figure from a martial art novel.

  Fang, 54, is an ordinary farmer in Jiande City, in east China's Zhejiang Province. Fang does different temporary jobs to make a living, but in his spare time, he likes practicing the art of standing on bamboo in water, a hobby he has enjoyed for almost 40 years.

  "When I was little, I always loved reading Chinese Wuxia (martial arts and chivalry) comic books," Fang said. "When I was a teenager, I saw an old lady practicing the art of standing on bamboo in water, and I was fascinated."

  After that encounter, Fang spent more than three years trying to grasp the technique of keeping balance while on bamboo in water. He only managed to master the acrobatic skill after falling countless times into water and getting slashed frequently by bamboo hairs.


Fang Shuyun, 54, a native of Jiande City, crosses Xin'an River using two bamboo poles in Jiande City, east China's Zhejiang Province, July 11, 2019. Fang learned the trick when he was a kid. (Xinhua)


  Fang recently made a splash on the Internet with his amazing skills.

  The bamboo under his feet is about 8 meters long, with a diameter of 15 cm. For Fang, 167-cm tall and weighing 55 kg, the bamboo generates just enough buoyancy to keep him above water.

  "When the wind blows, I usually just stand on the bamboo, and use a small bamboo stick to push the boat next to help me flow into the river," he said.

  Such art is usually depicted in Chinese Wuxia stories. In China, the most famous person with the skill is Bodhidharma, a Buddhist monk believed to have existed during China's Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589).

  Legend has it that Bodhidharma visited Emperor Wu of Liang, a patron of Buddhism. The emperor refused to listen to Bodhidharma's words and disagreed with his interpretation of Buddhism. So Bodhidharma left. But the emperor soon realized he was wrong, and sent people off to find Bodhidharma.

  Noticing people chasing behind, Bodhidharm picked a reed at the riverside and threw it to the river. The reed was transformed into a boat and it carried Bodhidharm away, leaving the emperor behind in regret.

  In reality, however, Fang said he does not know much about martial arts, and that his skill to float on water mainly depends on the direction and power of the wind, and the water current. The most important thing is to keep the feet firm on the bamboo.

  "As long as I keep my feet firm, even if there is a strong tide, I can still keep my cool on the bamboo," he said.

  But it is not easy to be that cool. The bamboo's round shape means it rolls in the water easily, even if the water is still. In Xin'anjiang, which has strong water currents and is more than 10 meters deep, the art of standing on the river can easily turn into a disaster.

  "You must keep your weight on the front foot, and use the other foot to grasp the bamboo firmly," he said.

  

Fang Shuyun, 54, a native of Jiande City, crosses Xin'an River standing on a bamboo pole in Jiande City, east China's Zhejiang Province, July 11, 2019. Fang learned the trick when he was a kid. (Xinhua)


  After years of practice, Fang's skill improved greatly. These days, he can not only stand on the bamboo, but also do push-ups and even jump on the bamboo.

  "This is my hobby, and whenever I sail across the river with the bamboo, I feel excited," he said. "I will continue to practice, and hopefully I can find someone who is genuinely interested to help pass on the art."

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