Chinese martial arts thrive in Ethiopia

Image Courtesy: Getty Creative
Image Courtesy: Getty Creative

In a sports center located in the heart of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, a salvo of cries rises from apprentices practicing Chinese martial arts.

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

“Martial arts are not intended to harm others but to teach respect, humanity, sincerity, self-defense and the search for inner peace,” said master Dawit Terefe who works as a trainer at the center of training.

“Impressed by the incredible fighting techniques of popular Chinese movie 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 teach a great way of life,” said Terefe, adding that the sport helps people become strong, healthy, stay fit 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 graduated as a Chinese martial arts master from the 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 participated 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 participated 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 has won in a contest. 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 said.

Haleluya Dawit, 16, is one of more than 70 students of master Dawit, striving to acquire higher martial arts belts, standards which are given to students to encourage them to move on to the next level of training .

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

“Since I started doing martial arts training, I have developed my confidence and defensive ability,” Dawit said, 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 helped him promote self-discipline and let go of bad habits.

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

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

Terefe pointed out that Chinese martial arts are winning the hearts and souls of 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 domestically, the China-trained master said.

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

Prior to his comeback, Terefe played an actor in one of the Chinese-produced action films. He has also had roles in locally produced romance films and documentaries as well as television drama series.

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

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