KRISTA MILLS / FOR THE SUN
Time To Fight- The second battle for Chibi where the forces of China clashed the foreign invaders represented by me. What is not shown are my broken sunglasses.
Nearly 2,000 years ago, the warlord General Cao Cao (Tsaotsao) tried to conquer all of China. The attempt failed. He was resisted in the south by the Han supporters, Liu Bei and Sun Quan. Heavily outnumbered, these two men brought their tiny army to bear against more than four times their number at a place called Chibi. Through superior tactics, they won and what began afterwards is known as The Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
Watch your step- The Dragon Dance performed atop a series of metal posts is carried out by trained professionals and should not be tried at home. (KRISTA MILLS / FOR THE SUN)
Performance- The Chinese Dragons chase away the Fan Dancers and get ready to perform for the Emperor. (KRISTA MILLS / FOR THE SUN)
Fast-forward to the present day where a TV set devoted to shooting this event was built and remains as a tourist attraction. With most of my Grade Five class I explored the faux ancient city and helped my students buy things.
The first thing we saw was Imperial Fan Dancing. Groups of women would dance for the Emperor as he held court over his vassals. It ended suddenly when they rushed off stage at the approach of dragons held up by gymnasts. They climbed up on poles and performed a Chinese Dragon dance, dazzling everyone. We watched for a while but it was not long before we were rushed to the next event in the giant arena.
What followed was a display of horsemanship between the generals Zhang Fei Guan Yu and Liu Bei against the terrible warlord Lu Bu. The students were awed at this demonstration and cheered when Lu Bu was chased from the field. Foot soldiers rushed in and a battle between two armies ensued as the three sworn brothers’ rode around and through the fighting men. The battle fired up my students so much that every single one of them immediately bought a fake weapon from the numerous pavilions.
Normally this would not be so bad. That is, until they found a target for their frustration and ire.
That would be me.
What followed was yet another imitation battle with me playing the terrifying General Lu Bu and the students attacking with all manner of toys. Outnumbered, I ran until backed against the river where they proceeded to fall all over each other in their pursuit. Twenty minutes and 30 broken swords later we had lunch on the grass nearby. FYI fake crossbow bolts hurt.
The rest of the day was spent wandering and listening to the tour guide recount the deeds of various generals from the time of the Three Kingdoms. The kids took pictures and we watched a wire strung Kung Fu fight that ended with fireworks and water jets. It was all very dramatic and my students ate it up while I huddled and protected the camera from the water. Sweaty we returned to the busses for the three-hour ride back to the school.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition April 28, 2012