Feature: Wushu brings Iraq, China even closer

By Li Jun
  • World
  • Saturday, 22 Jun 2024

BAGHDAD, June 21 (Xinhua) -- In a Wushu club located in the city of Sulaymaniyah in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, over 100 local Chinese martial arts enthusiasts clad in traditional training attire are diligently practicing Wushu routines, with each strike executed with power, precision, and a thunderous short yell "he-ha."

Despite the midsummer heat of Sulaymaniyah, where the temperature has soared to above 40 degrees Celsius, their passion for Wushu burns even hotter.

Amidst the intense training, Burhan, the founder of this Wushu club, weaves through the lines of students, correcting and guiding their techniques.

Like many foreign enthusiasts of Chinese Kung Fu, Burhan's fascination was sparked by Bruce Lee's movies. He devoured books, bought DVDs, and sought local masters, starting his martial arts journey at the age of eight.

As he delved deeper, his interest in Chinese culture grew stronger. "To master Chinese martial arts, one must understand the culture and philosophy behind it," Burhan explained.

"Just like an Arab proverb says, 'Seek knowledge even if you have to go as far as China.' the same applies to Wushu," he added.

In 2011, Burhan embarked on a journey to China's Henan Province to pursue his Chinese Kung Fu dream. This dream-fulfilling journey provided Burhan with comprehensive Wushu training and a deeper understanding of the cultural logic and traditional spirit behind various Chinese martial arts styles.

"Shaolin Kung Fu emphasizes both internal and external cultivation, Tai Chi embodies the wisdom of conquering the unyielding with the yielding, and Wing Chun balances both hardness and softness. Every move in Chinese Wushu embodies the essence of ancient Chinese philosophy," Burhan said.

Over the following years, Burhan returned to China multiple times for advanced training. In 2017, he established the Shaolin Wushu club in Sulaymaniyah, where he not only teaches Chinese Wushu but also introduces Chinese culture to numerous Iraqis.

The school has since enrolled over 3,000 Iraqi Wushu enthusiasts, ranging from children to elderly adults.

Soran, a 59-year-old Wushu lover, said that his 15-year Wushu journey made him realize that the essence of Chinese Kung Fu is not about fighting but about challenging one's inner fears.

"Learning Wushu has deepened my understanding of Chinese culture. The purpose of Wushu is not to dominate or intimidate others but to cultivate confidence, independence, and a strong character with a large heart and tolerance," Soran said, adding that this aligns with China's image in the international arena.

Seventeen-year-old Daniel, who was born in China's Shenzhen and lived in China for five years before returning to Iraq with his parents, often reminisces about his childhood in China.

"I always sought ways to reconnect with my memories of China, and then I found this Wushu club. It has reconnected me with China. Although learning Wushu is challenging, it has taught me discipline and the perseverance to never give up," Daniel said.

Burhan is pleased to see that so many Iraqis have developed a strong interest in China's development and culture through Wushu. In his view, Chinese Kung Fu is not only a bridge connecting China and Iraq but also a window for Iraqis to understand Chinese culture.

"The Chinese often say 'making friends through martial arts,' which reflects the broad-mindedness of Chinese civilization towards cultural exchange," Burhan said.

"Wushu not only strengthens the body but also brings people's hearts closer. Despite the great distance, Iraq and China have become closer with the help of Wushu," Burhan said.

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