In the recent 2022 (7th) NTD International Traditional Chinese Martial Arts Competition, almost all the contestants expressed one understanding—the competitors in this contest are “not enemies,” but “friends,” or even “family members.”
Some contestants said that this was an “invaluable” and “precious” gain for them from the competition. Others said that by participating in this competition, they became more in love with traditional Chinese martial arts. In particular, many agreed that the spirit of using martial arts as a way to learn from each other, rather than being rivals or enemies, is exactly part of the “grand virtue” of martial arts.
Non-Chinese Contestant: Friendships Built Among Contestants is Priceless
In this competition, there was a bald “monk” in a Buddhist cassock, who performed the aptly named “Great Arhat Boxing.” He made people think that he might really be a monk. However, he admitted afterwards that he is just a believer in Buddhist philosophy, and so he practises the Buddhist style boxing. He is not a monk in the usual sense.
The “monk” was Venezuelan Daniel Hernandez, who emigrated to the United States in 2021. Hernandez started learning martial arts at the age of 6 and has been practising for 22 years. When he learned about this competition through the internet, he was moved by its mission and concept of “reviving the true, divinely inspired, traditional Chinese culture (via martial arts).”
“Get rid of the modern-day martial arts elements (keep the traditional), that’s far more important,” said Hernandez. In fact, he just finished a competition in August in Florida where he was beaten by a man who fought in the same style as him but who added some modern martial arts (MMA) elements. That guy did not come here to compete this time. Because what is required here, is pure “traditional Chinese martial arts,” nothing more,” he said.
Traditional Chinese Martial Arts Is More Than Just Movement
“Once your thoughts reach a certain level, it will help improve your spirit, and make your movements and even your life better.” He said that his mentor told him that Kung Fu (Chinese martial arts) involves the union of people’s “body, mind, and spirit.” “When these three are combined in the right way and then realized as motion, you can really appreciate the difference between yourself and those who practise only physical movement.”
After training day in and day out and years of continuous practice, Hernandez said he is able to enter a state of natural “meditation.” At that time, he does not need to think about movement anymore, the energy drives his body to move naturally on its own. “This is real art,” he added.
On a spiritual level, Hernandez learned from traditional Chinese martial arts such qualities as self-control, persistence, not giving up easily, and doing your best without asking about results. These qualities have led him to obtain a double degree in philosophy and psychology, as well as achievements in the martial arts.
Hernandez said that what he liked most is the family atmosphere among the contestants in this competition, which leads to continued contact and more friendly exchanges with the contestants even after the event is over.
“Friendship among the players is so important. Even though we are competing, we still really hope the other party can do well and win. And we could also expect the same from the other party.” “This is what the competition can offer as the ‘true inherent energy,’ which is the most invaluable gain for me,” he said.
Chinese Contestant: This Makes Me Love Traditional Chinese Kung Fu Even More
Ye Zhiming, a Chinese American contestant and a first timer to the event, participated in the second round of the “Wuxing Quan (5 style boxing, Cai Lifo faction)” Southern Style Boxing group. He said he fell in love with the competition almost immediately.
“First of all, the most outstanding thing is that this competition does not give ratings to the contestants. That I really like. I am also grateful for this competition because the judges only focus on traditional martial arts skills, nothing on modern martial arts, which I have never encountered before,“ Ye said.
The second thing he likes is meeting contestants from all over the world who participated in the competition and shared their own views on martial arts and understanding of Chinese culture. “This is really a beautiful thing,” he said.
“The contestants in this competition are like they are from the same family. We really learn from each other via friendly exchanges and operating together. After so many rounds of competition, we understand each other more and my love of traditional Chinese martial arts [has grown].” “This is exactly what the organizer emphasized from the beginning, that they are promoting more on the “Wu De (the virtue embedded within martial arts),” Ye said. At the same time, he realized that “Wu De” could also play a positive role in all aspects of his life, including his university studies and work.