Different strokes for different folks: A Dragon Boating book for culture buffs and rowing pros

Different strokes for different folks: A Dragon Boating book for culture buffs and rowing pros

Posted on December 13 by admin
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A few weeks ago, we wrote about Arlene Chan’s eye-opening book The Chinese in Toronto from 1878. That volume brings readers a depth of understanding about the physical and cultural spaces of Toronto’s Chinese communities, and their growing place in the city’s identity. What you might not know is that Chan and coauthor Susan Humphries have also brought their trademark sense of cultural history to another field which is a landmark in Toronto’s heritage: Dragon Boat racing.

Her book Paddles Up! starts with the sport’s ancient history, stretching back 5,000 years. For a sport that is both a serious athletic pursuit and a part of a rich history, Chan’s overview is invaluable and enlightening. She begins with the sport’s development to commemorate the drowning of the poet Qu Yuan, an event inextricably wrapped up in the people and politics of the emerging ancient Chinese state. Fast-forward to the present day and dragon boating is a pursuit that captivates teams around the world, without giving up its roots.

Paddles Up! doesn’t limit itself just to the bookish side of things, with many chapters contributed by top coaches and athletes, and much of the book spent discussing techniques and the modern history of the sport. There’s even a section discussing the often overlooked role of “dry-land” physical training outside of the boat. With contributions from such experts, as well as a generous collection of photographs, bios, and a detailed glossary, Paddles Up! speaks to beginners as well as seasoned pros and people who enjoy Dragonboating for its modern, multicultural side or its ancient history.