By Li Hang
Photo: Courtesy of organizers
The inaugural Singapore Shaolin Cultural Festival and the 2nd Asian Shaolin Games were held at the headquarters of the Singapore Wushu Dragon and Lion Dance Federation from Saturday to Sunday.
The event provided a platform for millions of Shaolin kung fu enthusiasts from around the world to showcase their martial arts skills while boosting cultural exchanges.
Over 300 participants from 12 countries and regions, including China, Singapore, Indonesia and the US competed in the games.
Twelve-year-old Li Jianbin from Singapore emerged as a star of the games, winning three gold medals. Li, who has been practicing kung fu since the age of 4, aspires to become a professional martial artist. According to Li, Shaolin kung fu has helped him develop inner strength and courage.
Within Shaolin Temple in China and various Shaolin cultural centers worldwide, people from all walks of life and all age groups have equal opportunities to learn and master the skills of Shaolin kung fu, transcending their material backgrounds and social status. Shaolin kung fu not only cultivates their physical strength and skills but also helps mold their perseverance and determination.
Sewa Khasraw Sleman, a 25-year-old from Iraq, and her husband Rekar Abubakr Abdalrahman are devoted Shaolin kung fu enthusiasts. The couple traveled a long way to Singapore to participate in the event.
"My husband has been studying Shaolin kung fu for 16 years, and his dream is to become a Shaolin disciple," said Sewa, sharing the impact of Shaolin culture on their family.
Inspired by her husband, Sewa has been studying kung fu for six years.
"I have discovered that the values taught by Shaolin kung fu, such as respect, humility, and perseverance, provide the underprivileged with the right attitude and values in life and show them the potential to chase their dreams and continuously surpass themselves. Shaolin is like a big family and we are a part of the family," she added.
Guo Zhifeng, one of the organizers of the games, said, "We hope that more people passionate about Shaolin culture can come together to contribute to the better inheritance and development of it."
Guo is also the headmaster of the Singapore Shaolin Cultural Center and founder of the Singapore Shaolin Club.
"We look forward to the extensive promotion of traditional Shaolin culture in every corner of the world," he added.
During the games, a Shaolin cultural sharing session was also held, featuring speeches by the Secretary of Shaolin Temple Yan Pei. Additionally, venerable Shaolin monks provided on-site guidance and conducted training certification for the participants.
Shaolin kung fu culture has gained widespread dissemination and development in the Asian region.
Over the years, it has made significant strides in cultural exchanges. In 1997, a group of Shaolin monks performed a charity tour in Malaysia, while Abbot Shi Yongxin visited the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, and Malaysia in 1998, 2008, and 2015, respectively.
In June, the Shaolin Temple in Zambia organized the first-ever African Shaolin Kung Fu Games and other activities to promote the sport on the African continent and cultural exchanges, according to the Xinhua News Agency.