Upon a signal from her master, seven-year-old Mphoentle Tabengwa suddenly appears holding a broadsword in her hand before changing her movements quickly in the dazzling glint of the sword.
As the sword eventually emitted a gust of wind as it sliced through the air, Tabengwa, a resident of Francistown, Botswana’s second-largest city, is showing off the Kung Fu skills she learned at the Red Dragon Martial Arts run by Bethuel Chillito Mmoloki.
Mmoloki, a local enthusiast of Chinese culture, is teaching young Botswanan citizens Wushu, or Chinese martial arts in Francistown. Red Dragon Martial Arts was established in 2016 and is affiliated with the Botswana Wushu Federation.
Chinese martial arts has over the years slowly become a global sport. Wushu is expected to make its debut as an official sport in Youth Olympic Games in Dakar, which was postponed to 2026.
Young people like Tabengwa were excited when they received the news of Wushu to make its debut as an official sport, Mmoloki said. “It is a good chance to make more people aware of this wonderful sport.”
Soon after the announcement by the International Olympic Committee in 2020, Mmoloki said more and more youths are engaged in martial arts competitions nowadays and their competitiveness is improving daily.
“In Francistown, the youth championship was held early last month. The category for children aged between 7 and 12 accounted for 55 percent of all competitors,” Mmoloki told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Tabengwa started training Wushu at the age of three. Her parents are fond followers of the Chinese culture and dream that Tabengwa would study in China and have an opportunity to learn Kung Fu.
“My parents want me to go and study in China. They want me to stay in Henan Province where there is a strong tradition of teaching Kung Fu,” Tabengwa said.
Unabatsho Maluke, born in a village on the outskirts of Francistown, was introduced to Wushu at the age of six because his parents wanted him to learn to live alone and take care of himself.
“They (my parents) told me that they introduced me to Kung Fu in order for me to be independent and disciplined,” said Maluke, adding that the Wushu lifestyle has taught him to be strong-minded and innovative.
Maluke said he will try his best in every event. “My goal is to become an ambassador of the Chinese culture and tradition in Botswana.”
A rising number of people across the world are engaged in martial arts, to some extent thanks to the influence of Chinese Kung Fu films and stars.
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