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Wushu Strengthens Ties Between Iraq and China

In the city of Sulaymaniyah, within Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, a unique cultural bridge is being built through the practice of Wushu, a traditional Chinese martial art. Over 100 local enthusiasts, dressed in traditional training attire, practice Wushu routines with dedication and intensity, their efforts underscored by the traditional short yell, “he-ha.”

(240623) — SULAYMANIYAH, June 23, 2024 (Xinhua) — Burhan (front) demonstrates Wushu movement at a Wushu club in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, June 12, 2024.
TO GO WITH “Feature: Wushu brings Iraq, China even closer” (Xinhua/Duan Minfu)

Passion for Wushu
Despite the oppressive midsummer heat, with temperatures soaring above 40 degrees Celsius, the fervor for Wushu among these practitioners remains undiminished. Leading them is Burhan, the founder of the Wushu club, who moves among his students, correcting their techniques and offering guidance.

Burhan’s journey into the world of Chinese martial arts began like many others — inspired by Bruce Lee’s movies. His fascination led him to devour books, watch DVDs, and seek out local masters, starting his martial arts training at the young age of eight. Over time, this passion grew into a deep appreciation for Chinese culture.

(240623) — SULAYMANIYAH, June 23, 2024 (Xinhua) — Chinese martial arts enthusiasts practice at a Wushu club in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, June 12, 2024.
TO GO WITH “Feature: Wushu brings Iraq, China even closer” (Xinhua/Duan Minfu)

Journey to China
In 2011, Burhan traveled to Henan Province in China to immerse himself in the study of Chinese Kung Fu. This journey provided him with comprehensive training in various Wushu styles and a profound understanding of the cultural and philosophical foundations of Chinese martial arts.

“Shaolin Kung Fu emphasizes both internal and external cultivation. Tai Chi embodies the wisdom of overcoming the unyielding with the yielding, and Wing Chun balances hardness and softness,” Burhan explains. “Every move in Chinese Wushu reflects ancient Chinese philosophy.”

(240623) — SULAYMANIYAH, June 23, 2024 (Xinhua) — Burhan (back) corrects a student’s Wushu movement at a Wushu club in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, June 12, 2024.
TO GO WITH “Feature: Wushu brings Iraq, China even closer” (Xinhua/Duan Minfu)

Establishing the Shaolin Wushu Club
Burhan’s dedication led him to establish the Shaolin Wushu Club in Sulaymaniyah in 2017. Here, he not only teaches Wushu but also shares Chinese culture with his students. Since its inception, the school has enrolled over 3,000 Iraqi enthusiasts, ranging from children to elderly adults.

Among them is Soran, a 59-year-old who has practiced Wushu for 15 years. He emphasizes that Wushu is not about fighting but about overcoming inner fears and cultivating confidence, independence, and strong character. “This aligns with China’s image in the international arena,” Soran notes.

Seventeen-year-old Daniel, who lived in China for five years before returning to Iraq, finds a connection to his memories of China through Wushu. “Learning Wushu is challenging, but it has taught me discipline and perseverance,” he says.

(240623) — SULAYMANIYAH, June 23, 2024 (Xinhua) — Chinese martial arts enthusiasts practice at a Wushu club in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, June 12, 2024.
TO GO WITH “Feature: Wushu brings Iraq, China even closer” (Xinhua/Duan Minfu)

Cultural Exchange Through Martial Arts
Burhan is gratified to see the growing interest among Iraqis in Chinese culture and development through Wushu. He believes that Chinese Kung Fu serves as both a bridge connecting Iraq and China and a window into Chinese culture for Iraqis.

“The Chinese often say ‘making friends through martial arts,’ which reflects the broad-mindedness of Chinese civilization towards cultural exchange,” Burhan states. “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.”

This unique cultural exchange underscores how martial arts can transcend boundaries, fostering understanding and friendship between diverse cultures.

 

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