Judges evaluate the performance of more than 5,000 competitors who are tested via video, as Shaolin Temple in Henan province kicks off its online kung fu games on Wednesday. CHINA NEWS SERVICE
As millions of global sports fans are cheering on the athletes at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, Chinese martial arts lovers across the world are watching online kung fu games via the Shaolin Temple channel on YouTube.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, for the first time in history, Shaolin Temple in Henan province, a renowned temple recognized as the birthplace of Chan Buddhism and the cradle of Shaolin Kung Fu, has kicked off its online tests.
Under the theme of "peace and friendship, health and happiness, inherit and share", more than 5,000 competitors from 89 countries and regions are being tested via video.
The seven days of tests will end on Tuesday with awards given to the winners in various groups, and they will be invited to study at the temple.
Boasting over 1,500 years of history, Shaolin Temple is an internationally renowned religious and cultural institution. Shaolin Kung Fu is accepted and recognized by people of different nationalities, beliefs and cultural backgrounds due to its unique values.
According to Henan provincial bureau of culture and tourism, Shaolin overseas cultural centers have been set up in 26 countries and regions.
During the games, netizens can see not only the competition videos but also the offline scoring site. In the grand Meditation Hall of the temple, 11 national-level judges and representatives of warrior monks sit in front of large screens, giving scores on the performance of each participant. The scores immediately appear on the scoreboard during the live show.
"The Shaolin Kung Fu test is an important part of the regulation system and tradition of Shaolin Temple," said Shi Yongxin, abbot of the temple.
"It aims to review Shaolin disciples' technical achievements, spiritual wisdom and social responsibility. It is a significant way to improve well-being and make breakthroughs."
Before the start of the pandemic, the temple's leaders would tour around the world and hold tests at Shaolin cultural centers in foreign countries.
The temple launched the Shaolin Kung Fu Online Games in December to share the values of Shaolin Kung Fu and enhance communication among Shaolin disciples around the world, the abbot said.
According to Shi Yange, one of the organizers of the event, the participants range in age from 3 to over 70, including several generations of many families.
"The temple has a solid foundation both at home and abroad, so the response to the online games has been very positive," he said.
Marta Neskovic, 29, a Shaolin Kung Fu practitioner in Serbia, was very excited about the games and submitted a video immediately.
In her competition video, she performed Shaolin Xiao Hong Quan, a basic boxing routine of Shaolin Kung Fu, standing in the snow and dressed in a red sweater. The anthropology scholar lived at the Shaolin Temple from 2018 to 2020, doing field studies and learning kung fu.
"I think the temple found a wonderful and practical way to engage the enthusiasts and practitioners of Shaolin Kung Fu and other martial arts during the pandemic," she said.
"This is not only an opportunity for experienced practitioners to meet virtually, but to introduce Shaolin culture and make it more approachable to people all around the world."
Shi Yanzhuang, chief of the warrior monks, regarded this test as a platform for the practitioners to exchange their experiences of their studies.
"It is not about the score. It's about sharing and happiness," he said.