(East-West Question) Dialogue | Why did kung fu become a distinctive symbol of Chinese culture in the West?

  China News Agency, Beijing, April 13th, Question: Dialogue | Why did Kungfu become a distinctive symbol of Chinese culture in the West?

  Author Zhao Xu

  Chinese martial arts has a long history, extensive and profound, and is the crystallization of the wisdom of the Chinese nation.

It not only pays attention to the combination of rigidity and softness, and both internal and external cultivation, but also contains the Chinese nation's understanding of life and the universe.

Overseas, people refer to Chinese martial arts as "Kungfu".

  Why did kung fu become a distinctive symbol of Chinese culture in the West?

Wu Dong, director of the International Wushu Development Research Center of the Chinese Wushu Academy of Beijing Sports University, and Ghinolfi Luca, the head of the Italian Wushu Federation, recently held a dialogue in the "East and West Questions" column of China News Agency to interpret them.

China News Service reporter: Chinese martial arts has a long history and has become a window for people around the world to understand Chinese culture. Many people fell in love with China because they fell in love with Chinese Kung Fu.

Why is Chinese martial arts so attractive overseas?

What work did you do in it?

Genofi Luca:

The wide spread of Chinese martial arts in the West is due to the kung fu movies that began to circulate in the 1970s, including some movie actors such as Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li and others, who brought Chinese martial arts to all parts of the world and made martial arts "Soil" was found in the West.

Westerners are fascinated by the profound cultural value of Chinese martial arts. It respects people and nature, and is a way of self-cultivation, in which people can find many answers to life.

  I have been engaged in various sports since I was a child. I have won the Italian weightlifting youth championship, and I have also studied various martial arts such as judo, karate, and Indian martial arts. Because of my love for traditional Chinese culture, I learned Chinese martial arts from a Chinese teacher.

In 1963, I founded the Chinese Taijiquan Club in Italy. Later, I trained many athletes and participated in the World Wushu Championships on behalf of Italy, and achieved many good results.

Genofi Luca with his "apprentices".

Photo courtesy of the interviewee issued by China News Agency

Wu Dong:

Chinese kung fu movies have indeed promoted Chinese martial arts to the world, but the popularity of Chinese martial arts stems from the profound culture it contains. Chinese martial arts have made many people who were originally strangers to China know more about China and fell in love with Chinese culture.

  I started practicing martial arts with my family when I was 6 years old. I was admitted to Beijing Sports University in 1988. After graduating in 1992, I stayed at the school to teach Chinese martial arts. It has been 30 years.

During this period, I have done many Chinese martial arts world tour exhibitions and overseas teaching and dissemination activities. In teaching, I have been trying my best to explore and innovate, because I want every student to "really gain" through learning.

Now my students are all over the world. The oldest is 84 years old and the youngest is 6 years old. They all fell in love with Chinese culture because of learning Chinese martial arts.

Wu Dong teaches Chinese martial arts.

Photo courtesy of the interviewee issued by China News Agency

China News Agency reporter: In the process of learning and teaching Chinese martial arts, what is your greatest achievement?

Genofi Luca:

In the process of studying martial arts, I found that it gave my life more meaning.

Chinese martial arts advocates the unity of man and nature, and pays attention to the harmonious coexistence of man and nature. Through martial arts, I have learned to get along better with the world.

And, it also has very important health value in itself.

  At the same time, in the process of teaching others, martial arts has also allowed me to indirectly influence and change the lives of others, as have many of my students.

For example, one of them once expressed this to me. He said that because of martial arts, he has learned to work hard and respect, cultivate patience and perseverance, and learn how to face life.

Wu Dong:

I love martial arts, practice martial arts, and teach martial arts. The influence of martial arts has changed me, and I have gained a lot of friendships because of martial arts.

I have also brought health and happiness to my students through my own teaching, making them fascinated by Chinese martial arts, falling in love with Chinese culture, and even changing the trajectory of their lives, which makes me the most gratified.

  As a teacher, my biggest dream is to actually benefit my students through my teaching, so that they have strong bodies and smart thinking skills.

In fact, how to bring the essence of Chinese martial arts culture to overseas students from multinational and cross-cultural backgrounds is a challenge.

But when I worked hard and saw that they had gained something and changed, and I identified with Chinese culture from the bottom of my heart, I felt that all my efforts were worth it.

Many students told me that they would recommend Chinese martial arts, which benefited themselves physically and mentally, to every friend around them.

In June 2021, Ma Ke, an international student from Taiyuan University of Technology from Mozambique, performed Chinese martial arts.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Wei Liang

China News Service reporter: What kind of different experiences do Chinese and Western martial arts bring to you?

In your opinion, how consistent are they with each other?

Genofi Luca:

The history of martial arts is complex, and influenced by factors such as region, culture, customs, traditions, ideology, and living habits, different countries have different characteristics.

Because of their different cultural connotations, Chinese and Western martial arts also show different national characters.

But whether it is Chinese martial arts or Western martial arts, students can gain confidence in their own body, ability and understanding of their own limits.

And by practicing martial arts, you can also change your health.

Therefore, in my opinion, there is no difference in principle between Chinese and Western martial arts, they are all ways of pursuing a better life.

Wu Dong:

Chinese and Western martial arts are similar in physical fitness.

However, Chinese martial arts integrates fitness, self-defense, and self-cultivation, and at the same time integrates medical theory, philosophy, and boxing theory.

In the West, people pay more attention to being taller, faster and stronger.

In Chinese martial arts, you are higher and I am lower, you are faster and I am slower, and you are stronger and I am softer. This is also the difference between Eastern and Western cultures.

  For example, taking Taijiquan in Chinese martial arts as an example, it is not a confrontation but a dialogue; it is not as slow as the appearance sees, but can control the body and mind; it is not just a martial arts movement, but a self-awareness A good way, a Chinese way of understanding the world, is a kind of cultural fine product that Chinese people summarize and convey to the world, and it is also a carrier that can perceive Chinese culture with the body.

Stephen (left) from Australia learns Taijiquan in a traditional Taijiquan gym in Guilin in February 2021.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Yu Jing

China News Service reporter: With the exchange and dissemination of Chinese and Western martial arts, what inspiration has Chinese martial arts, which contains the Chinese nation's understanding of life and the universe, brought to the dialogue between the East and the West?

Wu Dong:

Chinese martial arts is a bridge for dialogue between the East and the West.

In my opinion, culture must not be empty words or myths, it is a real way of life and form, just as I understand Chinese martial arts culture, it must be visible, tangible and practiced Yes, it works.

  In martial arts teaching, I have always advocated body sense, recognition, and understanding, which is also the "magic weapon" of my teaching.

First, you need to experience the magical power of martial arts movements; second, when you feel the rigidity and softness of power, you need to recognize its laws and principles; third, you need to realize how the Chinese are behind the laws and principles. thinking.

Let the learners get in touch with Chinese martial arts from the perspective of fitness, because they have experienced different effects, and then they identify with Chinese culture, which has become a daily life, and has become a recognition of value, realizing the benign "going out" and "coming in". interactive.

I think this is the effect that cultural exchange and dissemination should have.

Genofi Luca: In

my opinion, Chinese martial arts is not only a form of exercise, but also allows its practitioners to truly understand and realize the search for peace and harmony, and to experience the happiness and beauty of the symbiosis between man, society and nature.

It is just as described in the ancient Chinese Lao Tzu's "Tao Te Ching": "The highest good is like water. Water is good for all things without fighting, and it handles what everyone hates, so it is almost like the Tao. Living in a good place, with a good heart, with good benevolence, good words, good faith, good governance, When things are done well, when they act well. The husband only does not fight, so there is no special."

Photo by China News Agency reporter He Penglei

China News Agency reporter: How do you understand that Chinese martial arts should be communicated and spread in the world with the awareness of "civilization achievements"?

Genofi Luca:

Now, in my old age, I am grateful to recall my life experiences.

In the past few decades, I have learned different cultures and religions through learning martial arts. I am grateful for everything I have now, and I am very fortunate that I have the opportunity to learn Chinese martial arts and culture.

  There is a lot of Chinese wisdom and an open-minded way of life behind Chinese martial arts, just like the song by Zen Master Wumen Huikai that my teacher often mentioned to me: "Spring has hundreds of flowers and autumn has the moon, summer has cool breeze and winter has snow. In my heart, it is a good time in the world."

I now often pass on this life experience of "contemplation of freedom" to my students.

  When it comes to the spread of Chinese martial arts in the world, I think it is very important and necessary to let more young people learn through education and let more people understand the culture behind martial arts.

Russian teenagers learn Chinese martial arts in Beijing.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Liu Guanguan

Wu Dong:

Chinese culture is a culture of "harmony". Just as the essence of Chinese martial arts culture is not attack but defense, Chinese martial arts is a microcosm of Chinese culture.

I believe that the Chinese people's understanding and interpretation of life will give mankind new thinking in the future, and this thinking is not imposed, but shared.

Share the Chinese culture represented by Chinese martial arts to the world, so that more people can be healthy and happy because of martial arts, and at the same time understand Chinese culture, fall in love with Chinese culture, and use Chinese culture, so that Chinese culture can truly make a unique contribution to the well-being of mankind, And provide them with a Chinese perspective, Chinese thinking, Chinese wisdom, the beauty of beauty and the harmony of the world for them to understand the world.


Interviewee Profile:

  Wu Dong, director of the International Wushu Development Research Center of the Chinese Wushu Academy of Beijing Sport University, researches on the history of Wushu, the philosophical thinking of traditional Wushu, the standardization of Taijiquan, and the teaching of Wushu.

  Genofi Luca, head of the Italian Wushu Federation, has long been committed to the promotion and research of Chinese Wushu, founded the Italian Taijiquan Club, won the Italian Taijiquan Team Championship for 12 consecutive years, trained athletes to win the European Championship, and represented Italy in participating World Martial Arts Championships.