LOS ANGELES, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- The North American Shaolin Kung Fu Games took place Saturday in San Gabriel, a neighboring city of Los Angeles, hosting 1,200 participants, with their teachers and loved ones there to cheer them on.
Reconvened after its initial launch in 2013, the event featured performances and competitions for all ages from 4 to 60. The atmosphere buzzed with excitement as Kung Fu lovers from across the United States met to compete for medals.
Originating in the Shaolin Temple of China, this ancient martial art has found a new home in the United States, where it continues to impart invaluable lessons to its students.
"Shaolin Kung Fu and Tai Chi are something the West can learn from the East," said Grandmaster Sin Kwan Thé, who is the leader of a number of Shaolin centers across the United States.
One of the best effects of Shaolin Kung Fu is physical fitness, he told Xinhua, adding that regular practice can increase cardiovascular fitness, improve muscle tone, enhance flexibility and even better one's posture.
Matthew Banks, the owner of a fighting and healing center in the state of Arizona, said that Shaolin Kung Fu is "very good for holistic health."
Some participants of the event came for sheer joy though a medal or two are always welcome.
"It makes me happy!" said Zoya and Ceadda, both 6 years old from the Shaolin Tai Chi Cultural Heritage Center in Las Vegas.
Patrick Clark was there to watch his nieces compete. One of them, Mila Nguyen, 11, pulled in two gold medals and a silver while the other was preparing for her turn in front of the judges. "They're amazing," said the proud uncle.
"They've always been interested in martial arts," explained their mother Danvo, who takes them to train at a Shaolin center.
Practitioners said the benefits of learning Kung Fu include not only physical fitness, but also reducing stress and anxiety, increasing a sense of calm and mental clarity and getting a better understanding of themselves.
"It makes us more calm and collected and more focused during intense moments," said a young competitor.
"Our Shifu teaches us about respect, discipline and how to really listen and treat people better," said Allison, a 14-year-old competitor from Las Vegas.
Shaolin schools in the United States often infuse cultural elements into their curriculum. Students can learn about Chinese philosophy, history and traditions, gaining a broader perspective on the world.
"Chinese Shaolin martial art is a legacy that continues to shape the lives of its practitioners and contributes positively to the world," said Grandmaster Sin Kwang Thé. ■