Chinese martial arts flourish in Ethiopia


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In a sports center located in the heart of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, a burst of screams burst from trainees practicing Chinese martial arts.

The trainees, aged 7 to 65, practice Chinese martial arts, Kung Fu and kickboxing at the Dave Dan Wushu and Kickboxing Training Center.

“Martial arts are not aimed at harming others but at teaching respect, humanity, sincerity, self-defense and the search for inner peace,” said master Dawit Terefe, who works as a coach at the training center.

“Impressed with the incredible fighting skills of popular Chinese film actors such as Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, I started learning Chinese martial arts at the age of 12 in 1993,” Terefe said in a recent interview. with Xinhua.

“Chinese martial arts teaches a great way of life,” Terefe said, adding that the sport helps people become strong, healthy, stay in shape and develop excellent concentration.

In Ethiopia, children aged 7 to 16 have a real passion for martial arts while adults prefer kickboxing.

Terefe pointed out that Chinese martial arts are lifelong physical exercises and are performed with balanced movements between the legs and hands, which makes them preferable to other exercises.

Terefe’s career as a Chinese martial arts instructor began 20 years ago, but he became more popular after returning from China’s Henan Province where he underwent nearly four months of intensive training in Martial Arts.

“I was one of four Ethiopians who received a scholarship from the Ethiopian Minister of Culture and Sports in 2013 and obtained the rank of master of Chinese martial arts from Shaolin temple in China,” Terefe said.

“I first learned Shaolin Wushu, then I started to learn other forms of martial arts with a particular emphasis on Sanda or Kickboxing”, recalls the master.

After returning home, Terefe took part in 25 martial arts competitions, the majority of which were in Chinese kickboxing, and he managed to win them all.

Representing his country, Terefe also competed in the Afro-Asian martial arts competitions held in Egypt and won a bronze medal in kickboxing, the first medal the Horn of Africa nation won in an arts competition. martial arts.

According to a recent report by the Ethiopian Martial Arts Federation, there are more than 800 martial arts training centers in Ethiopia, the second most populous country in Africa.

Of these, 60 are in Addis Ababa and each appears to provide martial arts training to around 70 students each season and at least one Wushu club exists in every small town in Ethiopia, the report says.

Sixteen-year-old Haleluya Dawit is one of Master Dawit’s more than 70 students, striving to acquire superior martial arts belts, standards that are given to students to encourage them to take their training to the next level. .

“I love learning Wushu because it combines different techniques and enlightens me,” said Dawit, who practiced Chinese martial arts and a range of physical activities, including lunges, bow pose. high, high knees, horse stance and kicking with classmates. .

“Since I started training in martial arts, I have developed my self-confidence and defensive skills,” said Dawit, as she aspires to become a world champion in martial arts competitions. .

Matiyas Belete, another student at Dave Dan Wushu and Kickboxing Training Center, said learning Chinese martial arts has helped him promote self-discipline and let go of bad habits.

“After I started attending martial arts classes, I enjoyed improved strength, speed, power and flexibility,” Belete said.

Known for health and other benefits, Chinese martial arts are gaining popularity across Ethiopia as parents are ready to let their children learn Chinese martial arts, Terefe said.

Terefe pointed out that Chinese martial arts are winning the hearts and souls of the Ethiopian youth and have become popular over time.

The government should consider sending more Ethiopian students to China for martial arts training to further promote martial arts nationally, the Chinese-trained master said.

Fulfilling his long-held dream of becoming a martial artist, Terefe has appeared in nine locally produced action films, including as a lead actor.

Prior to his return, Terefe played an actor in one of the action films produced in China. He has also played a role in locally produced romance films and documentaries as well as dramatic television series.

“Chinese martial arts is a philosophy through which one can understand the world,” Terefe added.

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