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Singaporean Chinese Coach Put Teenage martial arts on the World Stage

WACCCE 2023-04-04

Just after Chinese New Year, Hu Gang, chairman of Singapore Youth Cultural Arts Centre, couldn’t wait to get busy. He was actively preparing for the 5th Singapore International Wushu Culture and Arts Festival with his team members. Previously, the Festival, which was originally held once every two years, was delayed until this year due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Now, Hu Gang and his teams are very energetic because they can hold offline Wushu cultural exchange activities again.

Since moving to Singapore in 2007, Hu Gang, a martial arts practitioner, has never left the martial arts scene. Over the past 16 years, he has been working tirelessly to promote Chinese martial arts culture and has been actively involved in facilitating international martial arts cultural exchanges. He became the head coach of a rookie Wushu school, led students to participate in major international Wushu events, served as the first Wushu coach of the Singapore Ministry of Education Youth Wushu Team, founded the Singapore International Wushu Cultural Exchange Center, organized the Singapore International Wushu Cultural Festival and served as the technical advisor of the Myanmar National Wushu Team. Wu Gang confessed that he is happy and fulfilled doing what he loves. The following is his explanation of how he became a Wushu coach and the popularization of Wushu culture.


Become a Wushu coach

I am a native of Anhui province and, at the age of nine, I was sent to a full-time Wushu school to study under Xu Shuzhen, a famous Chinese martial artist, because my parents were always working outside my hometown. Two years later, I was selected to join the Hefei City Martial Arts Team in Anhui province and became a professional martial artist. In 2007, I went to Singapore to substitute for a sister at a rookie Wushu school by coincidence. In my spare time, I wandered around and slowly fell in love with the living environment in Singapore. It is a place where Chinese people gather and is a highly international city-state. In Singapore, Chinese culture has deep roots and there are a number of people who love Wushu. Hence, I decided to accept the invitation of the rookie Wushu school and officially became the head Wushu coach of the school.


Popularize Wushu culture

I organized the first Singapore International Martial Arts Cultural Festival in 2013, inviting famous martial artists from Anhui Province to Singapore for Wushu performances. In 2020, the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic forced the festival to stop. The previous four International Wushu Cultural Festival events have attracted tens of thousands of participants from over 100 countries and regions, and have become a cultural and sporting event brand in Singapore. The event has received strong support from the Singapore Ministry of Education, the Singapore Ministry of Culture and Community Sports, the Chinese Embassy in Singapore, the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre, as well as national Wushu associations and Wushu groups from Southeast Asian countries such as Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. Our activities have not only had a wide social impact in Singapore, but have also drawn attention among the world's Wushu colleagues and the youth of Southeast Asia.

In each International Wushu Cultural Festival, we try to innovate the arrangement of activities and expand the audience of the event. For example, we invite martial arts movie stars to support the event, invite martial arts champions from all over the world to perform, divide martial arts competitions into professional and non-professional categories, hire first-rate Wushu masters to serve as professional judges for the event, and set up lecture forumsfor famous martial artists. In order to better reflect the desire to inherit Wushu culture, I have renamed the Singapore International Wushu Cultural Exchange Centre to the Singapore Youth Cultural Arts Centre.

Now, my team and I are preparing for the 5th Singapore International Wushu Cultural Festival to be held in August this year. As the first international Wushu cultural festival held since the outbreak of pandemic, we hope to implement some original ideas. Firstly, to invite athletes from participating countries and Singaporean cultural and travel experts to shoot videos of their respective hometowns, and select some excellent works to be promoted on platforms such as iQIYI, TikTok and Kuaishou. Secondly, to increase the technological content by selecting one of the cultural heritagesof participating countries, and asking KDDI to make an AR video to enhance people's awareness of understanding and protecting the world cultural heritage. Finally, to increase the content of activities, such as calligraphy, dance and Chinese classical musical instruments, to turn the International Wushu Cultural Festival into a Chinese cultural carnival.

Recently, cooperation and exchange between Singapore Youth Cultural Arts Centre and various national martial arts associations, groups and schools have gradually returned to normal. In the future, our cooperation with Wushu associations in China, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines will be back on the agenda. We will definitely insist on our work of popularizing Chinese Wushu culture!

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