Stay fit and disciplined with Kung Fu

By Dhananjani Silva, Pix by Sanka Vidanagama

Looking for something new and different in terms of fitness or recreation? How about Kung Fu? If all you know of Kung Fu, is Carl Douglas’ hit song from the 70’s ‘Kung Fu Fighting’, think again, for this famous Chinese martial art is all about discipline and fitness.

“Let alone the physical benefits, it also gives you a number of psychological benefits as it increases your ability to focus and concentrate,” says Prasanna Rathnayake, the chief instructor of the Kung Fu School Colombo branch which is affiliated to the Sri Lanka Shaolin Kung Fu school in Ratnapura. The Colombo branch located at J.C. Hall, Gregory’s Road, Colombo was established in 2004 while the school in Ratnapura was started in 1972.

“We are the only school with connections to the Shaolin Temple in China -- the founder Principal of the Sri Lanka school Master Sivalee Wickremaarachchi had the privilege of undergoing training at the Shaolin Temple in China- the birthplace of Kung Fu. Usually, only monks are trained at this Shaolin temple. However, Master Sivalee, having had the opportunity to be trained there, was the one who first introduced martial arts to Sri Lanka in 1974,” explains Mr Rathnayake.

Kung fu training is two fold--for it includes external and internal training. External training consists of hands, eyes, body and the stances while internal training focuses on heart mind, spirit and strength. The traditional Chinese schools of martial arts, for example the Shaolin monks -follow this not just as means of self-defence but also as a system of ethics.

An Assistant teacher at the Colombo Kung Fu branch Sandy de Alwis said although it would not give you instant benefits, what is achieved is more effective and lasting in the long run.

Sandy, a student who turned instructor recalling how she was inspired to take up martial arts says it was her three-year-old son who first followed the lessons. “I only used to sit in the corridor and watch them perform. However, I was so pleased by the fact that those students were obedient and disciplined and that made me want to learn this art. It was a life-changing experience. I moved on to becoming a teacher,” she says.

Faheem Farook, a student at the class who is employed in the private sector said that it has been about five months since he started the lessons. This form of martial arts is not just the physical aspect but it also builds up one’s confidence and thereby increases one’s capacity to face ‘challenges.’

Classes are conducted for beginners and advanced students. The Kung Fu school branches are also located in Balangoda and Eheliyagoda and another two are to be established in Gampaha and Kandy in the future.

Classes in the Colombo branch are conducted during weekends.

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