Senior citizens have a go at kung fu



The elderly people learning the karate moves from the Chinese experts

Martial arts, especially karate, have since become popular in Seychelles through the various existing karate schools which today form the Seychelles Karate Federation.

Who would have thought that one day our own senior citizens, though far from being experts as in the old Chinese films, would also have the opportunity of learning and demonstrating karate skills?
The Ministry of Tourism and Culture has made this possible through a kung fu workshop for a group of about fifteen senior citizens being held at the National Cultural Centre in Victoria.

The one-week workshop is being conducted by two Chinese experts, professors Liang Dong Sheng and Zhang Jian Yong, who practice a form of kung fu called ‘taiji’, and who are currently teaching martial arts at the Chinese Cultural Centre in Port Louis, Mauritius.

Mr Zhang, himself a senior citizen, even speaks Creole as he has been living in Mauritius for the last twenty eight years. He refers to ‘taiji’ as simple traditional body movements with each movement aimed at healing a different form of illness. Before coming to Mauritius, the two taught at the Sports University of Beijing, in the Chinese capital.
According to the director general for Culture, Marcel Rosalie, the programme falls within the cultural agreement between Seychelles and China which was signed in 2012 and which covers a two-year period. Mr Rosalie said that since the first cooperation agreement with China in 1981, the two countries share close cultural links as a result of which Seychelles has largely benefitted from Chinese technical help.

He explained that the aim of the programme is to promote ‘taiji’ among different groupings of the local population and to sensitise people further on the importance of physical activity in the buildup of a healthy nation.

One of the senior citizens who is attending the workshop, Josianne Gerry, who is also chairperson of the Senior Citizens Association, said that it was important for them to keep themselves fit, to treat health problems such as arthritis and also to be able to defend themselves in case of physical aggression.

“At a time when we elderly persons are frequently attacked and robbed of our belongings by younger people, it is important for us to learn how to defend ourselves,” she said.

During their one-week stay in Seychelles, the two experts will also be conducting sessions for rehabilitation patients at the Les Cannelles Welfare Centre as well as dancers and teachers.

With the aim of introducing the sport on a long-term basis in Seychelles, they will also be holding workshops with members of the Seychelles Karate Federation.

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