Global Times: Shaolin Temple Holds Martial Arts Competition and Cultural Event

发布日期:2017-08-07   字体大小:   

A martial artist performs at the Shaolin Wuzhe Dahui on Saturday.  Photo: Li Hao/ GT

A Tieshazhang practitioner breaks bricks. Photo: Li Hao/ GT

Originally a fictional event often appearing in martial arts novels, the Shaolin Wuzhe Dahui (lit. unrestricted assembly), a demonstration and competition event for Chinese martial arts, kicked off in real life last Saturday at the Shaolin Temple in Central China's Henan Province.

The event exemplified the spirit of wuzhe, which means completely open and unrestricted, by welcoming any martial artists regardless of background or social status.

In Buddhism, a Wuzhe Dahui is a religious event in which the faithful gather together to pray, fast and debate about scripture. The week-long Shaolin event, in addition to its focus on martial arts, also includes Chinese chess competitions, Buddhism seminars, traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy exhibitions as well as lectures on Chinese tea ceremonies, exercise regimens and the benefits of a vegetarian diet.

According to a report from the Beijing News, this year's Wuzhe Dahui has over 2,000 participants from both China and abroad.

"We set up such a platform because we hope people with dreams, aspirations and willpower can show off their talents here," Shi Yongxin, abbot of the Shaolin Temple, said as quoted by Henan TV.

The part of the event that has attracted the most attention has been the Chinese martial arts competitions, which gave viewers a chance to see famous martial art styles they only know from movies or novels in real life.

Practitioners of Tieshazhang (iron sandy palm), for example, do not train using heated sand as is often portrayed on TV, but with sandbags. Tieshazhang competitors at the event competed in a brick breaking competition, with the winner, 44-year-old Zhang Longxiang, breaking a pile of eight bricks with a single hit from his bare hand.

Thirty-three-year-old Wang Lei is one of the 50,000 visitors that came to watch the events at the Shaolin Wuzhe Dahui. Traveling all the way from Beijing, Wang said that he felt a little disappointed.

"The competitions were kind of simple, and not as mysterious as I thought it would be," Wang told the Global Times. Yet he added that the martial arts performances were still exciting and many visitors, especially expats learning Chinese martial arts, seemed to enjoy the event.

While the name of the martial arts competition section is The Seventy-Two Arts Competition, only four styles took place in the event. According to a report from Chinese news site The Paper, this was mainly due to the fact that not many people outside the Shaolin Temple practice the 72 martial arts styles and also because this was the event's first year.

According to Yanqiao, a Shaolin master, many of the 72 martial art styles have been lost over the years.

"As an era develops, some things no longer fit the time period," he told The Paper, pointing out how the use of concealed weapons is no longer practiced.  

According to Yanqiao, the Shaolin Wuzhe Dahui is an opportunity to rediscover some lost arts as well as learn something new from outside Shaolin Temple.

"There is a saying, 'All kung fu under Heaven came from the Shaolin Temple,' but that does not mean that only Shaolin kung fu is the only true marital art. The Shaolin Temple is willing to welcome martial art forms from around the world," he added.  


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