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Expats Kick up Kung-fu Interest

(SHANGHAI)©Kung-fu has experienced a limited revival £¬ but most Chinese prefer to have other pursuits£¬as Shanghai Star newspaper reported.

"Kung-fu helps boost people's self-confidence £¬ assertiveness and concentration £¬ and teaches them a certain degree the personal defence.

FOR Johnathan Davis £¬kung-fu means acrobatic fighting films starring Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan.

"I would sit for hours in my armchair to enjoy these movies £¬" said the sales manager of a local business. "But I never tried to learn because I knew it would cost so much time and perseverance before I could become a master."

But for B. Edward Marti £¬ a Swiss businessman who has lived in Shanghai for almost four years £¬ learning the martial arts is a challenge worth the effort.

Though he has just started learning £¬ Marti is serious about his training and tries to do every movement to the satisfaction of himself and Xia Dexin £¬ his teacher.

Zainil Lee also enjoys kung-fu as she follows Xia's lead in a lesson at Citigym.

Because Lee has practised a great deal£¬ Xia praised her progress.

Xia's words did not discourage Marti£¬ who believes practising kung-fu is a good way to broaden his understanding of Chinese history and culture£¬ in which kung-fu has an important position.

Besides satisfying his thirst for knowledge £¬ his specific interest in kung-fu was ignited by a nine-year-old Swiss boy who lives in his parents' house in Switzerland.

The boy started to practise kung-fu when he was five£¬ under the supervision of his father who has been practising this art for many years £¬ Marti said.

"Living here£¬ I have a great opportunity to learn from outstanding Chinese local masters £¬" Marti said.

Beside physical training and control£¬ his interest in kung-fu also focuses on the spiritual aspects.

Kung-fu helps boost people's self-confidence£¬ assertiveness and concentration£¬ and teaches them a certain degree the personal defence£¬ he said.

Unlike Western boxing £¬ kung-fu is not based on sheer power alone.

Marti said he plans to visit Jiuhua Mountain and Shaolin Temple where the saint monks practised kung-fu.

"Kung-fu requires much more than interest £¬" said Chen Junyan£¬ a master in Shanghai Martial Arts Institute. "And it builds up much more than a strong body."

Kung-fu is believed to have originated thousands of years ago through imitating animals' self-defence movements.

Kung-fu has become popular in many countries£¬ primarily through films which feature martial arts stars.

Because of this growing popularity£¬ an exchange programme has developed in which students from the institute go abroad to practise or teach £¬ and students from other countries come to Shanghai to learn at the institute.

Some prefer the slower taichi while others favour Chinese boxing or even weapons such as knives £¬ swords £¬ sticks or spears.

The institute has classes for interested foreigners in their spare time£¬ but few people have joined. Sometimes the master teachers will give home lessons.

"Only people with perseverance will stick with it because kung-fu is not so easy in practice or as exciting as the films."

Xia has turned his attention to practising tuina£¬ which is like massage but more effective in relieving tiredness and disease. In his spare time£¬ he teaches his patients kung-fu. He considers this a makeshift arrangement for his devotion to kung-fu.

"Kung-fu is a poor trade in Shanghai unlike other places of China where kung-fu schools mushroom£¬" Xia said. "But cultural treasure shall be preserved and passed down."

But he wonders how strange kung-fu will be to the city if only foreigners learn it and Chinese children turn to other pursuits such as singing£¬ dancing or playing musical instruments.

-- source: xinhuanet

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