COVID keeps lions and dragons away for another Chinese New Year, but Hawaiian band keeps dancing

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — From a deadly pandemic to widespread protests, 2020 has been a tumultuous year that has seen enough major events to fill a history book of its own. COVID-19 triggered a global recession as countries locked down. Deadly wildfires have erupted along the west coast, displacing hundreds of thousands of people. To top it off, the year ended with a deeply contentious election.

While most people will consider 2020 the worst year ever, a local group says those in the Year of the Rat were considered the luckiest because it was the last time they were able to produce.

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“I believe in the months that followed, Hawaii was going through a government shutdown to control the spike in cases,” Ken Kang said. “It’s 2022, and it will be year number two that we won’t be able to participate in the Chinese New Year festivities.”

Kang is the assistant instructor of Harlan Lee, owner of the sports association Gee Yung Martial Arts Dragon & Lion Dance, the second oldest martial arts association on Oahu.

The 48-year-old instructor has spent most of his life in school and says the majority of what they present on stage directly reflects what is taught in their classes.

“As Sifu Harlan Lee would point out in any situation you have to be ready, whether it’s self-defense, life’s challenges or a presentation of our lineage – we must always be prepared and ready “, did he declare.

As the Chinese New Year approaches, Kang and his team spend more time perfecting skills and techniques so people can see the effort the members put into their performances.

“It goes without saying that we are always proud of each of our members because they are always prepared and ready,” Kang said. “The lows are obviously the cancellation of events and performances.”

During the pandemic, students took the training so they could create wonderful memories when showcasing their hard work, but Kang says such events have been limited — and they miss the excitement for them sorely.

Although CDC rules prevented Chinese New Year celebrations, Gee Yung’s team continued to perform at various venues on a much smaller scale.

“But, to be honest, many of our events and performances have been canceled,” Kang said. “We have had multiple weddings, graduations, birthdays, business openings, all canceled due to this pandemic. We too, as a small business, can really relate to the situations we are all facing due to the consequences of this pandemic. »

Despite the challenges, Kang is grateful to the members, parents and other instructors who have helped keep the school open.

“One of the great things we’ve experienced is that just like martial arts, you find ways to adapt and build with every circumstance,” Kang said.

During the past Chinese New Year, Gee Yung members visited many schools and adult daycares to share their cultural experiences. But since the pandemic hit, any in-person events have been halted.

“So to adapt, we used and leveraged technology. We have adapted a virtual Lion blessing for these facilities,” Kang explained. “Of course, it is not the same, however, each school, as well as their students and each adult daycare, with their residents were able to experience a virtual blessing from the Lion as if it were happening in their classroom. So it gave a bit more personal feel as if the Lions were in their rooms.

This year, Gee Yung hoped to have a chance for the events to be welcomed, but in mid-January, notices went out to participating groups. They will no longer be able to show their talents. For Kang, he understands that with the increase in cases, it’s in everyone’s interest.

“The Gee Yung Sports Association would like to express its gratitude to the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and all the members and decision-making committees regarding the Chinese New Year events,” he said. “We know it was a very difficult decision to delay the Lunar New Year celebrations.”

Find more COVID-19 news: cases, vaccinations on our Coronavirus News page

Although there is no virtual option to view their Chinese New Year performances, people can follow Gee Yung’s Instagram page @geeyungsportsassociation for any updates on future events.

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