2008-05-24 02:22:57 GMT 2008-05-24 10:22:57 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English
BEIJING, May 24 -- In an indoor stadium of Shanghai University of Sports, Alex Roger is doing vigorous stretching exercises in preparation for his four-hour Chinese wushu workout.
"The intensive training usually leaves me exhausted," said Roger, a 28-year-old Frenchman. "But I am usually very happy afterward too."
Having practiced wushu for eight years, Roger has found that it even influences the way he thinks. Wushu is closely associated with Chinese culture and philosophy, especially Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism and traditional Chinese medicine.
"Wushu is like Chinese calligraphy, simple but meaningful," Roger said. "You can find internal peace through this martial art."
Roger's daily training includes kicking, punching, throwing, controlling, hitting and practicing taolu routines (another martial art) with knives and sticks.
Roger was first introduced to Chinese martial arts through the action films of Bruce Lee, Jet Li and Jackie Chan. "I was massively impressed by their kung fu. I imagined that I could become a hero like one of them," Roger said. "Once I started to learn wushu, however, I realized the rather large gap between the movies and real life. Wushu is about both culture and martial arts, it's not simply about who wins."
Before coming to Shanghai, Roger learned wushu in France with a Chinese tutor. "I like having goals in relation to my learning wushu," the young man said. He came to China four years ago with the hope of enhancing his physical strength and his spiritual understanding of wushu. He planned to stay for one year but, like many others, found himself staying considerably longer.
"The more you learn, the more you find that you don't know." Roger enjoyed the arduous practice sessions and regards this as a period that has greatly developed his self-discipline. "What's fascinating about wushu is that it teaches you to learn to control your body and mind," said Roger.
Taolu emerged in the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Over time it gradually developed into a number of exercises including taijiquan (a slow tempo Chinese shadow boxing), yijinjing (a muscular exercise) and qigong (breathing exercise).
Those who are also fascinated by Chinese wushu will enjoy the wushu competition at the upcoming 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.