16-year-old Calgary martial artist portrays legendary Chinese Monkey King: ‘It’s an honour’
Working on his martial arts moves has been a big part of Jared Haines’ life for a long time.
“I’ve been doing martial arts since I was five,” Haines said.
Now, the 16-year-old Calgarian is working on a routine he’s never tried before.
“I’m the Monkey King,” Haines said.
He’ll be bringing the legendary ancient Chinese character to life at Calgary’s Chinatown Street Festival, wearing Monkey King makeup as he performs martial arts moves in the parade that kicks off the festival on Saturday, Aug 17.
He’s been practising his routine for the past month and getting insight into the Monkey King’s character from one of the festival’s organizers, Kathy Wong.
“The Monkey King actually is mischievous, very witty,” Wong said. “He’s a very vain monkey.”
Wong led several artists from a seniors building in Chinatown in a creating a mural depicting the legend of the Monkey King, which will be displayed during the festival.
“All these are immortal peaches,” Wong said, pointing to one of the panels. “And [Mokney King] will eat at least 100 a day until the whole tree [is] literally bare.”
Despite his flaws, Wong says the Monkey King is viewed highly.
“He actually is basically a hero,” she said. “He has all the magic.”
Organizers said that despite not being Asian himself, of all the members of his martial arts group, Haines was the best choice for the role.
“He has actually shown a very good example as a Caucasian to do martial arts so well,” Wong said. “Multicultural integration between the Western and the Asian should be encouraged.”
Haines says he’s excited to have the opportunity.
“It’s an honour to be able to learn about Chinese culture, despite me not being Chinese,” Haines said.
The parade to open the Chinatown Street Festival starts at 11:30 a.m, More information can be found online.
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