by Yosley Carrero
HAVANA, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- The Cuban School of Wushu and Qigong celebrated its 25th anniversary on Saturday evening with a massive demonstration of Chinese martial arts at its popular venue in Havana's China Town.
During the celebration, thunderous applause filled the air as students wearing face masks performed different Qigong movements and the traditional Chinese lion dance.
"We have worked very hard over the past three decades to see this dream become true thanks to many people's efforts. The school has done its part to continue spreading Chinese culture among Cubans," said Roberto Vargas Lee, director and founder of the school.
Vargas Lee said that the practice of Chinese martial arts on the island has extended outside Havana, helping people improve their health and find a new way to be in harmony with nature.
The Cuban School of Wushu was founded in 1995 to promote values and principles of traditional Chinese culture and provide people of different ages with a variety of health benefits.
"It is a legacy of our ancestors that we will continue sharing for the decades to come," he added.
The school recently reopened after being shut down for seven months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It now has more than 8,000 students, 2,500 of whom are in Havana.
While Wushu and Qigong practice on the island continues gaining ground among children and young people inspired by Chinese martial arts films, senior citizens also find in the school a productive way to spend their leisure time.
Among them is 88-year-old Ana Lee, the school director's mother. "I have taught my son many things about Chinese martial arts and now he is sharing his knowledge with thousands of people nationwide. It is an endless cycle," said the octogenarian, who also took part in the demonstration in central Havana.
One of the attractions of the martial arts display was the performance of dozens of children and adolescents moving in perfect harmony to the rhythm of Chinese traditional music and Cuban songs.
School director's son, Hailong Vargas, 12, was one of them. "I began to practice Chinese martial arts when I was four years old," said the boy. "My father is my role model. When I become an adult, I want to be the director of the school."
On the occasion of its 25th anniversary, the school received recognitions by social organizations and local authorities.
Addressing the audience, Havana Deputy Governor Luis Carlos Gongora said that the school has worked as a bridge between the Chinese and Cuban peoples by spreading Chinese culture, martial arts and health from generation to generation.
"The school has had a huge impact on education, on the training of younger generations, and on the improvement of health conditions of people living in the surroundings of Havana's China Town," he said. "It is a clear proof of the strong relations between Cuba and China." Enditem