By Roger Mari
HONOLULU (KHNL) - It's a tradition that dates back to the Han Dynasty.
The Chinese lion pole dance is a way to tell stories through acrobatics.
It mixes dancing with martial arts and requires a lot of feline dexterity. The poles can reach up to 10-feet with platforms only 12 inches in diameter. At 12 years old, Thomas Cheong is the youngest performer in Hawaii.
"What makes me such a good jumper I have to have stamina my legs have to be strong enough to jump on the poles I have to trust my tail player," said Cheong.
At an early age, students are evaluated and then selected to learn this art of dancing.
"He actually trains in Kung Fu and he has natural abilities to pick up on a lot of the movements , you can see that he has the ability to be light on his foot," said instructor Ken Kang.
You need more than just a light foot to be able to execute some of the dangerous manuevers in lion pole dancing. Staring down from 15-feet up, it takes nerve.
"He has bravery in his heart too because there no one person that wants to go up there," Kang said.
Thomas continues to work hard and hopes to see the rest of his team from the Gee Yung International Martial Arts and Dance Association, reach the top.
"Just keep on practicing, be good to my friends and help them practice too," added Cheong.
For now, Thomas is training for the 2008 July High Pole Lion Dancing World Championships in Gen Ting China.
The festival will be held at the Neil Blaisdell Exhibition Hall on Saturday, October 6 from 10 AM to 9 PM. And again on Sunday October 7 from 10 AM to 5 PM.