“LAST NIGHT I DREAMT OF A KUNG FU MASTER…” booms a voiceover-ready narrator over Kodak Black’s ZEZE. So starts the social meme catching fire across TikTok and Instagram Reels, where martial arts and kung fu has once again been thrown into pop culture.
The roughly two-minute meme, called #AwakenYourHero Challenge, is made of two shots. In the first, the creator awakens from a sleep state, having presumably dreamt of a kung fu master. With a quick cut, the creator breaks into serious martial arts moves.
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The meme has been picked up by a variety of martial artists showing the diversity of styles and creativity that exists within the form.
@immortalglobalLast night I dreamt of a Kung Fu master @geneching 🙏 #AwakenYourHeroChallenge #kungfu #shaolin #wuxia #wushu #beinspired #chinesemartialarts♬ Awaken Your Hero Challenge – Immortal Studios
The meme also shows the diversity in martial arts practitioners. Kai’mere Beard, a 10-year-old practitioner from Jade Fortress Shaolin Martial Arts Academy in Illinois, created a take that has been lauded for her authenticity – from her technique to her Feiyues – as a form of genuine cultural appreciation. Kai’mere says, “Shaolin Gongfu has been really fun, intense, and exciting since I first started training three years ago with my godfather, a Shaolin disciple. I really like the Chinese martial arts culture.”
@immortalglobalJoin the #AwakenYourHeroChallenge and show us what you’ve got! #kungfu #shaolin #wuxia #wushu #beinspired #chinesemartialarts♬ Awaken Your Hero Challenge – Immortal Studios
Originally conceived by Immortal Studios, the meme was created for the October release of its comic book “The Adept” but designed to inspire more. Immortal Studios founder and CEO Peter Shiao says, “We all have a unique persona inside ourselves that we are trying to unleash, and this is a fun way to see that process play out in a Wuxia fashion, like it does for Amy our inaugural comic ‘The Adept’. We’ll be doing more initiatives like this in the future that brings our ideas to fruition through short video.”
Kevin Kreider, an actor and motivational speaker, found the meme as an opportunity to advance one of his primary advocacies: stereotypes of Asian masculinity. “I wanted to show that you could still be Asian and masculine without knowing martial arts.”
@immortalglobalPreview: @kevin.kreider the day after thanksgiving 🙏😌💪 #AwakenYourHeroChallenge #BeKind #BeInspired #weekendvibes #thanksgiving♬ Awaken Your Hero Challenge – Immortal Studios
The Awaken Your Hero Challenge has since evolved as participants put their own stamp on it and display their individuality and creativity.
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@immortalglobal@kungfudorkstudios putting the ACTION in action figures! #awakenyourherochallenge #kungfu #shaolin #animation #beinspired #fyp #foryoupage♬ Awaken Your Hero Challenge – Immortal Studios