How to play lion dance drums


舞狮 Lion Dance

The Lion Dance is sometimes named the Dragon Dance or the unicorn Dance. This is a very popular show, greatly appreciated in China. It is supposed to drive away the malevolent spirits and to bring happiness and prosperity. Our troupe gives demonstrations for important events such as marriages, birthdays, inaugurations of companies, and private festivities or events for companies.

狮子 Lions

Two dancers personify each lion, one moving the head and the other one moving the body. Their choreographed and highly coordinated moves breath life into to the mythical animal, and give to the audience the feeling of being in front of a lion instead of two disguised dancers. Besides the execution of technical movements, the dancers have to give character to the lion they incarnate, so that the lion looks vigorous, expressive and alert.

The colors of our lions’ coats are saffron, golden yellow or red. The Colors symbolize the heroes of the Three Kingdoms period:

  • Liu Bei / 刘备 the virtuous king, is symbolized by the saffron or the golden yellow lion.
  • Guan Yu / 关⽻, a general and strategist, embodied by the red lion.
  • Zhang Fei / 张飞, general whose bravery is famed, is symbolized by the black lion.

乐队 The orchestra

A drum, a gong and cymbals accompany the Lion dance. The drum stands for the pulse of the heart beat of the lion. A particular rhythm is associated to every steps and routines of the Lion. Each school has its own rhythms. The gong and cymbals stands for the thoughts of the Lion. With the drum, they accompany, they create the music of every routine.

狮子神态 Steps and routines

The Lion Dance was codified and named “dance of the three stars” / 三星 in Foshan by Wong Fei Hung. Since then, their moves have become quicker and much more tonic : “the seven stars” / 七星. The Lion may move on the ground, on benches or poles, depending on the place where the dance is executed and to the agility of dancers.

传奇 Legends

According to the legend told by Sigong Chan Yau Man, the Lion Dance was created during the Qing dynasty. Ferocious beasts repeatedly stormed a village near Foshan / 佛⼭, terrifying the population and destroying the harvest. As a counter-attack to this threat, the villagers decided to build a legendary Lion with feathers and canvas. They put it at the center of the village in order to scare the beasts. As the attacks stopped, the villagers attributed credit for
this victory to the Lion, and chose to celebrate it every year.

醒狮队 The Crew

Every Kung Fu school in Foshan must have their own Lion Dance troupe. Thus, it was evident that I had to create my own troupe when I opened my school in 2011. This troupe gathers the most assiduous learners and disciples in our school. Besides training the dancers in France, I help them to increase their level in Foshan with my Sifu, so that they can truly experience this culture. The ability to give life to the Lion and to move like a lion is not a question of jump height or of athletic performance. The most successful dances are those that create the illusion that a lion is in front of us. This is a requirement to be part of our troupe. Nowadays, we collaborate with the most prestigious brands associated to Chinese culture, namely the Guimet museum, the Chinese Business Club, town halls of Parisian districts and the palace Shangri-la. We honored our first contract in China on the 5th August 2015 when we were invited by the president of martial arts in Foshan. Furthermore, since 2012, our troupe demonstrates the lion dances every birthdays of Lao Wei San’s Kung Fu school in Foshan. More than simply honoring the contracts, my aim is to truly bring back the reputation of excellence of this Chinese tradition.

Benjamin Culos – Sifu of the LWS Pak Mei School

舞狮 Our Dances

Sigong Chan Yau Man and Sifu Benjamin Culos choreographed all our dances. Stories told by our dances vary with the challenges the lions meet.

舞狮 The two lions dances

Dances performed by several lions are festive and lively. It spotlights the good relationship between the lions, and the feelings they provide, spread because of the coordination between the dancers. The Lions move, run, play, roll and jump. The remarkable synchronization between the lions and the acrobatic tricks they perform will delight your guests.

高杠 The mast

Braving the danger and overcoming our fear to reach our goals are the ideas expressed by this stunning dance. The lion will reach the top of a five meter-mast to bring prosperity to your company.

步步高升 The mountain of benches

In this truly audacious and spectacular dance, the lion jumps over a mountain made of benches. After beginning its dance on the ground, the Lion jumps over 6, 8 our 10 stacked benches that represent a mountain. The top of the bench mountain is from 1.20 to 1.50m height. The difficulty of this performance and acrobatic tricks are highly enjoyed by the audience. This sensational and vibrant dance symbolizes the ascension toward success.

花鼓 The course of the show

The orchestra plays several minutes to announce the festivities, allowing the audience to take place and immerse themselves and get the spirit and the energy of the demonstration. 画龙 点睛 Then, we beckon the officials to paint the Lion’s eyes. This action awakes the Lion, and according to a legend from the Qing dynasty: The Emperor Qian Long asked an artist to paint a dragon. As the painter brought his finished artwork, the Emperor noted the eyes apples had not been painted. The painter argued that painting the eyes would have given life to the dragon and that two dragons could not live in the same palace – the Emperor is considered being a dragon in China. Since then, painting the Lion’s eyes has always been used to start a Lion Dance. 舞狮 Being awakened, the Lion greets the place and begins a routine that conveys happiness, ferocity, doubt and ardor. The Lion executes a sequence of spectacular jumps until it reaches the salad 采⻘青. Then the Lion falls asleep and the troupe uses this moment to pass out the flyers that wish health for the body and the spirit. 身⼼心健康 The Lion will then finish the routine with greetings.

Learning all about Lion Dance and Drumming in just One Course


Personally conducted by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
from 13th to 19th June 2019

An invaluable old photography showing Uncle Righteousness and Grandmaster Wong in a Lion Dance performance for the public


  1. To preserve and pass on the art of Lion Dance and Drumming as part of kungfu legacy.
  2. To enable kungfu practitioners of any style, including instructors and masters, to incorporate Lion Dance in their schools if so desired.


  1. To understand the history and significance of Lion Dance in kungfu culture.
  2. To be able to perform the Lion Head and the Lion Tail.
  3. To be able to play the drum, the cymbals and the gong in Lion Dance music.
  4. To understand and perform traditional Lion Dance formations.

Course Content

  1. Historical background and significance of Lion Dance in kungfu culture.
  2. Basic traditional Lion Dance techniques and performance.
  3. Basic techniques in playing the drum, the cymbals and the gong in Lion Dance music.
  4. Arrangement and interpretation of Lion Dance formations and their meaning.
  5. Rhythm, tone and expression in Lion Dance.
  6. Lion Dance as a mean to develop kungfu skills.

Lion Dance music is lively and vibran

Expected Result

  1. Have a better understanding of Lion Dance in kungfu culture.
  2. Be able to better appreciate Lion Dance and to tell a good performance from a bad one.
  3. Have a better appreciation and control of emotions.
  4. Enhance kungfu skills like breath control, fluidity of movements, agility and solidness, mental clarity and relaxation.
  5. Enhance qualities like carefulness, cheerfulness and courage.

Time Table

  • 1st day — Arrival
  • 2nd day — Training 8.00 a.m. to 11.00 noon, and 3.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m., Welcoming dinner 8.00 p.m. to 10.30 p.m.
  • 3rd day — Training 8.00 a.m. to 10.00 noon, and 4.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m.
  • 4th day — Training 8. 00 a.m. to 10.00 noon, and 4.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m.
  • 5th day — Training 8.00 a.m. to 10.00 noon, and 4.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m.
  • 6rd day — Training 8.00 a.m. to 11.00 noon, 3.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m, Graduation dinner 8.00 p.m. to 10.30 p.m.
  • 7th day — Departure

The welcoming dinner and the graduation dinner are complimentary. Family members who come with you are invited to the dinners, but please inform the Secretary on the first day of the course to ensure that places are reserved. Places will not be availabel for those who fail to inform the secretary beforehand.


1800 euros per participant to be sent to the Secretary before the course, or paid by cash on the first day of the course.

If any course participant is not satisfied with the course, he or she can ask for a full refund and it will be refunded without question. But this must be done before the end of the course. Once the course is over, it is deem that all those who have completed the course are satisfied, and no refund will be given after that.

Sifu Wong Chun Nga and Sifu Luis Morgado practicing Lion Dance during the Special Shaolin Kungfu Course in 2002


Applicants must have some prior kungfu experience. They must be able to perform unarmed kungfu patterns and footwork reasonably well.

Both current Shaolin Wahnam members (including instructors) and non-Shaolin Wahnam members may apply for this course. After the course, the latter may choose to be associate Shaolin Wahnam members while continuing to practice or teach their own styles, or not be associated with Shaolin Wahnam at all, but they have to be abided by the Ten Shaolin Laws. Those at instructor's level and above are free to teach what they have learnt in this course in their own systems if they wish and if they are competent to do so.

From our perspective, Lion Dance is not just for demonstration. Its practice can enhance qualities like ability to relax while performing vigorous actions, fluidity of movement, stamina, mental clarity, carefulness, cheerfulness and courage, which are not only beneficial for kungfu training but also for our daily living. Participants will learn and practice these qualities at the course.

As it normally takes many months to learn Lion Dance and Drumming, those not familiar with our Shaolin Wahnam methodology may wonder how one could effectively do so in a seven-day course. Of course this can be done — otherwise the course will not be offered. The teaching will be methodical and systematic, but paticipants have to work very hard.

Nevertheless, no one can be proficient in Lion Dance or Drumming by merely attaining an intensive course. The purpose of the course is to provide you with fundamental knowledge, skills and techniques; subsequent diligent practice is necessary. The main lessons of the course will be videoed, and a complimentary copy will be given to you to help you in your own practice.


Apply to The Secretary, stating:

  1. the name of this course, i.e. Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course
  2. your full name
  3. your sex and age
  4. your occupation
  5. your e-mail address
  6. your postal address
  7. your phone and fax numbers, if any
  8. your health problems (briefly), if any
  9. your kungfu style(s) and experience
  10. your attainent level, e.g. instructor, master, grandmaster

If you are accepted, details will be e-mailed to you.

You do not have to pay any application or booking fees. The course fee of 1800 euros (which is the only fee you have to pay) is payable during the course only if you are satisfied.

One essential condition is required for participating in this course, and that is to uphold and practice the Ten Shaolin Laws. Please read and understand the Ten Shaolin Laws carefully. Application for the course is taken to be an indication that you have accepted this condition

Food and Accommodation

You have to pay for your own food and accommodation. You can have your meals or stay wherever you like. But it is recommended that you ask our Secretary to book accommodation for you for better co-ordination.

A public performance of Lion Dance by early students of Sifu Wong many years ago


The Ten Shaolin Laws

Courses and Classes

  • Intensive Chi Kung Course
  • Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course
  • Intensive Taijiquan Course
  • List of Certified Shaolin Wahnam Instructors
  • List of Chi Kung Healers

Why do you think Shiva is holding a drum in his hand? — Leo Slepner's School of Rhythm — lessons on the development of a sense of rhythm in Moscow

According to the Hindus, Shiva, the creator and destroyer of the worlds, creates each new Universe with his dance. One of the names of Shiva, widely known outside of India - "Nataraja", which means "Lord of the Dance." The music for the dance is the vibrations of his magic drum, which first create our world and then destroy it. Even the very words "creation" and "destruction" are only metaphors for the two extreme rhythms of this drum. And the music of Shiva is our Universe.

Hindus believe that Shiva invented 108 types of dance and the same number of types of rhythm. These rhythms can be both calm and terrifying, and are rooted in the hoary depths of antiquity of the first Indian shamans. Dancing to endlessly repeating rhythms took place to a state of ecstasy, often for several hours. It was believed that such a state opens the way for the dancer to another world of demons and dead people, and the dancer himself is internally transformed by music and ecstasy, imbued with sincere love for Shiva, and therefore will fulfill religious rules without coercion.

Repeated repetition of the dance rhythm caused real euphoria among Shaivites. What can be said about Shiva, who endlessly creates and destroys entire universes with only rhythm?


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Reaction is directly related to Rhythm. As soon as we talk about syncopations or weak beats, it is the Reaction that will help us to perform them exactly in time. If the reaction to the execution of syncopations or displacements is not fast enough, then they will be out of Rhythm and executed inaccurately. We develop the reaction with the help of physical exercises (playing with a ball, playing in an ensemble of different rhythms)

Within each musical phrase there is a pulsation, i.e. the smallest figures that make up this phrase. If you know and understand what the pulsation of a given musical phrase consists of, then you can always control the rhythmic movement of this period. To determine what kind of pulsation in a certain period of time, you must first understand what figures the accompaniment or melody moves with. For example, in a style such as swing, very often the pulsation consists of triplets. If you cannot determine the pulsation, then Connacol will help you with this. Pulsation is directly related to speech. If you can clearly hear the pulsation and can speak with Konnacol, then you will definitely be able to sing it or play it on any instrument.

Speech is directly related to Rhythm and, as a rule, people with slow or undeveloped speech will also have lags in Rhythm!
In order to develop Speech and, accordingly, improve performance in Rhythm - we use the Indian rhythmic system - Konnakol.
Konnakol (vocal percussion - see video) is one of the most convenient and simple forms for improving the sense of rhythm: it is a self-sufficient form with which you can read the rhythmic structure of any complexity. For this reason, it is studied as part of the Rhythmic Solfeggio discipline in many European and American jazz colleges. Such a course will allow you to easily cope with complex rhythmic phrases, polyrhythm, and also feel comfortable in complex musical time signatures.
And that's why we start diving into Rhythm from Konnacol. Our course necessarily includes a lesson in stage speech, with a teacher Donskaya Maria Borisovna.

Groove is the repetitive movement of rhythmic figures. This concept can be developed with the help of a metronome, but there are also natural Grooves, for example in ethnic music. (Afro, Latina, etc.) The basis of a Groove is to repeat any rhythmic phrase in exactly the same way. If the phrase is played “crookedly” relative to the metronome, then each time it is repeated it must be played exactly the same “crookedly”, then there will be a feeling of Groove and the result of this feeling is the desire to dance.

"Rhythm is time taken under control"
Time in music is the movement of rhythmic figures in general relative to the metronome. (You can play ahead of the metronome, behind the metronome, or together with the metronome)
Similarly, when we talk about internal time, we mean that a musician can play smoothly for a long time without a metronome.
With the help of the author's system of circles, we develop inner time.

To develop a sense of rhythm, we need to develop coordination of movements, which involves hands, feet and voice. With the help of special exercises, we achieve freedom in the rhythmic performance of each of the parties. Without coordination of movements, it is impossible to achieve the performance of different rhythmic patterns.

National dances of

Han Chinese make up approximately 93.3% of the total population of China. Since ancient times, Han Chinese dances have been distinguished by their richness and variety of forms and styles.


Chinese Spring Festival - New Year's Day according to the agricultural calendar is the most important traditional holiday of the Han people. Many types of dances are dedicated to this holiday, the most common and also the most beloved are the DRAGON DANCE, LION DANCE and YANGE.

DRAGON DANCE is performed everywhere during the Spring Festival. Usually the dragon is made of multi-colored silk, it can reach 10 meters in length. Under the deafening crackle of crackers, a dozen men holding the dragon's body on sticks run and jump, forcing the dragon to take various poses, such as "the dragon rolls on the ground", "the dragon beats with its tail", "the dragon crawls along the pole". In addition, in some places, "dragons" have their own characteristics, in Zhejiang Province, for example, the "dragon of a hundred leaf lotus" is very common. In this dance, the girls hold images of clouds and lotuses in their hands and, following the leader, form the figure of a long dragon from the leaves, so that the impression of a dragon floating in the clouds is created. In some places, the dragon is knitted from straw, into which burning incense sticks are stuck. On a festive night, the "straw dragon" wriggles in a dance, spewing flames and smoke. There are also "dragons of the earth" that spew water from their mouths in all directions. And in some provinces south of the Yellow River, images of small dragons are tied to a bench, three men, holding on to the legs of the bench, run and dance to the thunder of timpani and drums. There are also “dragons from separate links”, “dragons from five links” and others. There are also "paper dragons" that are controlled by one person.

LION DANCE has a thousand year history. Apparently, this dance is associated with the ancient beliefs of the Han people, who wished to expel evil spirits on New Year's Eve, bring happiness and prosperity to their home. Lion dance gives great aesthetic pleasure.

The dance of the lion is usually performed by two, the front dancer holding the head of the beast in his hands, the legs representing the front paws of the lion, the other dancer representing the body and hind legs of the lion. The body of the "lion" is covered with a shaggy golden fabric. Both dancers must work very well in order to successfully imitate the movements of the beast. Sometimes the lion dance includes a playful and cute lion cub performed by one dancer. The lion dance involves a warrior who holds a colorful ball and teases with it the “lion”, who jumps, bends and “plays with the ball”, as it were. The whole dance takes place under the thunder of drums, gongs and other percussion instruments creating a cheerful festive mood.

The lion dance is performed in a different manner. In one case, the “lion” stands on the ball, jumps, runs, “stands on its hind legs”, in a word, does acrobatic tricks designed to show the power and flexibility of the beast. In another, the "lion" scratches, licks its fur, rolls on the ground, shakes its mane, showing an affectionate and playful character.

The dance of the lion requires strength and endurance from the dancers, and in addition, the skills of traditional wushu gymnastics, in order to show the strength and grace of the beast in its entirety, he must be able to do somersaults, jumps, somersaults.

YANGE is a mass dance performed on the days of the Spring Festival. A typical dance pattern consists of a range of folk dances. Usually Yangge is a long procession of tens or hundreds of people dancing through the streets and alleys, after which they gather in the square, where the main performance takes place. The procession is led by a dancer with a huge umbrella, symbolizing the new prosperous year, followed by the Dragon Dance, Lion Dance groups, then groups of people with multi-colored silk ribbons on their belts who perform the Yangge dance. Next comes a squad of drummers, with red drums on their belts, they dance, knocking out a fraction, now in a fast, then in a slow rhythm. Next come men and women riding "donkeys" or "in boats" (props made of silk and bamboo sticks), they depict the return of the spouses to the relatives of the newlywed. Behind them is a troop on stilts, all the performers dressed as opera characters with painted faces.

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