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Shaolin pivots to a future beyond kung fu

Updated: 2024-03-19 06:26 ( China Daily )
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[Photo by Lu Ping/China Daily]

Russian disciples

While changes are happening on the ground, Shaolin culture is also strengthening its foothold overseas.

In January, Russian Oleg Gizatullin, or Shi Yanfu by his monastic name, returned to Shaolin Temple to participate in a Shaolin Kung Fu examination. The 56-year-old has practiced kung fu for more than 30 years.

Gizatullin was accompanied by his 36-year-old wife Svetlana Vsemirnova, or Shi Yanbin, who has practiced Shaolin Kung Fu for 13 years. The pair have established the St. Petersburg Shaolin Culture Center at a sports school in St. Petersburg, which currently has over 30 students.

"Every morning we practice Shaolin Kung Fu by the banks of the Volga River, starting with qigong and meditation," Gizatullin said.

Vsemirnova, who spent four years studying at the Harbin Institute of Technology and is fluent in Chinese, said Shaolin Kung Fu culture has helped her spiritual cultivation. She said everyone encounters different issues and finds their own way to heal themselves.

"Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, practicing qigong regularly has been greatly beneficial in improving our lung and heart functions, enhancing our immunity and alleviating anxiety caused by the pandemic," Vsemirnova said.

"Now, every friend around us has been influenced by Shaolin culture. They come to us for help when facing problems, and we teach them qigong to relieve depression and stress, promoting self-cultivation."

She said she hoped to eventually live in Dengfeng for a lengthy period and further her studies of Shaolin culture.

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