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Little Miss Kung Fu

Girl power in a Shaolin martial arts school

Shaolin Epo Wushu College in the Shaolin Mountains is among China’s top martial art schools. Nearby is the famous monastery, where monks have practiced the ancient martial art of wushu (also known as kung fu) for centuries. The school now gives children the chance to learn too. There are around 8,000 students, some as young as three.

Related:Wudang Wushu: Chinese monks perfect the ancient martial art

Although the boarding school only accepted boys at first, it now welcomes girls as well. Shaolin Epo schoolgirls have no time to play with dolls. Instead, they train with fists, knives, swords, and other weapons every day. The girls practice just as hard as the boys and live under the same Spartan conditions. With several people assigned to a room, very modest dinners, and only one day a week for parental visits, the girls have to toughen up and learn to focus on their goal of becoming skilled warriors.

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Life at the school can be hard. In order to stay, the girls must pass every exam with flying colours, so they try their hardest to meet the required standard. The bar is set high and there are no allowances for those who fall behind. Despite the hurdles along the way and the unrelenting schedule, every girl soldiers on, determined to make her parents, teachers, and country proud.