In recent months, early risers seeking to enjoy the splendour of Hout Bay beach will have encountered small groups participating in tai chi classes shortly after daybreak.
What many may not know, however, is that the man leading these groups, Xia Ke Hxiong, counts none other than martial arts legend and Hollywood film star Jet Li among his acquaintances and has regularly served as his stunt double in motion pictures.
Known to his students as “Sifu” or “Master”, Mr Xia moved to Cape Town from China in 2001, settling in Hout Bay on account of its serene setting.
He met Jet Li, known for his roles in Romeo Must Die and Cradle 2 the Grave, while a student in Beijing, and after winning nine martial arts competitions in the Chinese capital, collaborated with the star on a number of Chinese films as his stunt double.
As a master in both tai chi and Shaolin kung fu, Mr Xia views martial arts as a practical tool to help his students get what they want out of life.
“Kung fu is more than a defence, it is a way of living. You can use it in everyday life to accomplish your goals,” he said.
He said Hout Bay offered the perfect setting for tai chi.
“You have the mountains and the ocean. It is good scenery, and provides a good energy. Tai chi is good for children and the elderly, because you do not have to be strong to do it. Yes, it is good for the body, but, importantly, it teaches you to quiet your mind.”
“The ultimate goal is for everyone to achieve fitness, longevity, self-cultivation and to be free of illness. There are more than 100 million practising tai chi in the world, and there is lots of scientific research to prove that tai Chi has many benefits.”
Other benefits included improved memory and concentration, and improving a person’s mood and patience, he said.
Mr Xia, who was born in Sh’en Yang City in the Liao Ning province of Beijing, also teaches kung fu at Hout Bay’s Edge Gym.
“Kung fu makes a person’s body healthier, improves intelligence and is excellent physical exercise,” he said. For further information, contact Mr Xia at 074 939 9710.