Standing with his feet apart and bent knees, Benson Kuria raises his hands in a claw shape as he gets ready to execute the dragon move.
The 26-year-old is practicing Chinese martial arts Kungfu at the Kiambu community hall which is located about 16 kilometers east of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. The part-time teacher trains on the weekends together with other Kungfu enthusiasts. Kuria is among a growing army of Kenyan youth who have embraced the sport due to its myriad benefits like improving physical fitness.He told Xinhua during a recent interview that since he began participating in Kungfu, his strength and endurance have greatly improved. “Kungfu involves a lot of dynamic stretching where most body muscles are engaged,” said Kuria.
Ngaruiya Njonge, chairman of Kenya Kungfu Wushu Federation said that there are currently eight clubs in the country that are actively involved in the Kungfu. He is keen to popularize the sport among the youth because it will improve their confidence to deal with life’s numerous challenges. He is currently training children as young as ten years in Kungfu in order to inculcate the sport among school-going pupils. And Njonge also trains adults in the evenings where he holds one-hour sessions. Larry Kamau is a member of Nairobi’s Kayole Kungfu club that also conducts weekly session training at a local sport ground. He was drawn to the martial arts because it advocates for self-defense and non-aggression.He said that he likes practicing the horse stance which involves standing with feet apart in a squatting position while swinging the arms in the air. “The sport has helped to improve my stamina,” said Kamau.
Nelson Ikiara, a member of the Dragon Kungfu club has been practicing martial art for the last four years. The 30-year old used to watch Chinese movies during his childhood days which depicted scenes of Kungfu masters practicing their craft. “I used to practice the moves in the martial arts films at home and when I completed my university studies I decided to join a Kungfu club,” said Ikiara.Edward Naliaka, a member of the Muthurwa Kungfu club located in downtown Nairobi was drawn to the martial arts because it combines physical training and promotion of values of courage and tolerance. “These are qualities which I can apply in my work and social interactions,” said Naliaka.
The 28-year old martial arts practitioner said that through participation in the Chinese martial arts, he has cultivated willpower and mental strength to achieve his goal of graduating from the university with impeccable grades. According to local legislator Jude Njomo, kungfu is gaining popularity as a sport, particularly among school-age children. Njomo said that more schools will begin to nurture the sport due to its role in promoting Sino-Kenya ties. In addition to the Chinese language, kungfu skills will be taught in schools. – Xinhua