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Passion for Chinese martial arts grows in Turkey

Updated: 2020-11-23 08:46:56

( Xinhua )

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A teacher with Jiangsu University tutors a student from Austria in tai chi. [Photo by Xu Wei/China Daily]

ANKARA-The wushu team of Ankara metropolitan municipality practices hard to win new medals and titles in Turkey, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wushu, which means martial arts in Chinese, has grown in popularity throughout the country.

In a sports center located on the outskirts of Ankara, the Turkish capital, young athletes are training strenuously.

"We are committed to martial arts and there is a real interest in wushu, which incorporates different techniques. Our athletes are ambitious," Serkan Bakir, a well-known martial arts instructor and competitor, says.

Bakir explains that amid the global health crisis, wushu, which emphasizes quickness, power and relaxed movement, provides an excellent opportunity for people who wish to strengthen their immune and cardiovascular systems.

"There are many variations of Chinese martial arts. Tai chi, for example, can be performed by a toddler or someone who is 85 years old. It can help people stay in good shape. Everyone can benefit from it especially when we have to stay fit to fend off the coronavirus," he notes.

Standard wushu training concentrates on a core curriculum of eight major styles, whereas modern wushu consists of a variety of styles which can be divided into barehanded and weapon play.

A student with the martial arts team of the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing teaches wushu to visiting students from Russia's Confucius Institute in 2014. [Photo by Liu Hong'an/China Daily]

The team consists of bare-handed style athletes and most of them have won a local, national or an international title as part of the Turkish national team.

Beyzanur Karakaya, a 22-year-old woman, is currently seeking a master's degree in sports education at university in Ankara. Her goal is to improve in her field and eventually travel to China to master the art of wushu, which she has practiced for about 10 years.

"I have never been to China or competed against a Chinese athlete, but if I have the opportunity, I would love to go there and train with masters. That would be wonderful," she says.

Karakaya has won several Turkish and European medals and wants to take on new challenges within her team, which comprises some 100 athletes.

Wearing her traditional Chinese martial arts uniform, 13-year-old Fatma Ikra Ulukok says wushu brought mental enlightenment to her shy personality.

"Since I started practicing this, I became more confident. So it has helped me both physically and mentally, and I plan to improve my abilities in the coming years and excel in the sport with self-discipline," the young girl says.

Ulukok adds that she admires the Chinese culture and would like see it for herself in the future.

The sentiment was echoed by her teammate, 16-year-old Cetin Ciloglu, who has reached the podium at the European championships before, saying he was attracted by Chinese culture that produced such a form of combat.

"I eventually want to become a wushu world champion," Ciloglu says.

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