Mangaluru: Got “Tai Chi”! Do you want to “Wushu”? During the month of April 2015, on the last Saturday of that month ‘World Tai Chi & Qigong Day’, event was held in 70 nation and 100 cities in the world, including Mangaluru, ‘3rd World TaiChi & Qigong Day Mangalore 2015’ was held at Yenepoya College, Balmatta
The promotion and teaching activities of Wushu (Chinese Kung Fu) and Tai Chi by Haruka Ito has been ongoing for a long time in Mangaluru, but many are still not aware of it. But one confusion matter is, people always misunderstand Wushu as as Karate. Haruka Ito comments; “People may misunderstand Wushu (Chinese Kung Fu) and Karate are the absolutely same”. Both of Karate and Wushu have the same root origin. However, at the present both of them have been following their each own development process, they have been different each other. I had the opportunity to meet Haruka Ito during one of her training classes on Sunday at the Yenopaya College premises.
Mangalore and Japan seem worlds away-but for two Japanese – a Wushu (kung fu) expert, and a professional automobile photographer , it is their new home. Haruka Ito, the martial arts expert is from Hokkaido, has lived in Osaka and Yokohama;Satoru Komori, the photographer, is from Yokohama- both are business partners and share a residential flat in the City. Both, Haruka and Satoru say the traditions, the importance given to the family and a familiar terrain in Mangaluru, which reminds them of the Japan of their childhood, make them feel at home in their adopted city. Both of them enjoy the culture, tradition and food of this coastal city, and above all, the friendliness and courteousness of Mangalureans. “I want to live in India/Mangaluru and build our lives here, working in our fields of interest. We love India.” says Ito.
She says, “We have a responsibility towards the younger generation. We want to do something for our better future with the cooperation of other people. India is now emerging. It has huge potential to grow. We want to work together with this country.” Haruka met Komori over Twitter as she responded to a message from Komori, who was looking for company to go to India. But how did they land in Mangalore? Ito says they got to know of the city from a Mangalorean entrepreneur. “I love Mangaluru- the atmosphere here is like Bali (in Indonesia).” Komori, working with the ‘Qumarion’ robot for creating animation software, said communicating with people in the city is easy as most people including rickshaw drivers speak enough English to converse. “The people are extremely intelligent,” he says. Ito says she wants to teach ‘Taolu’ (the patterns and manoeuvres of the martial arts) as India has only a handful of such coaches. Komori has set up a business in photography and graphics design.
Speaking to mangalorean.com Spandana, (past student of Mount Carmel Central School and presently studying at St Agnes College) and a student of Haruka Ito said, “Wushu has many factors to attract the people, as a sport, as a beautiful human beings expression as exhibition art etc. It brings the health benefit, it develops your physical strength and concentration level, particularly slow motion and low pressure martial art Tai Chi is very effective for rehabilitation also. Our trainer Haruka is very dedicated and knowledgeable, and gives us good training. This art is very useful for young women like us, where we can use our techniques for self defense. You can’t learn Wushu quickly, lots of practice is needed to be thorough in this art. I love this sport”.
Also speaking to mangalorean.com, twin boys Abhay and Aditya Shah, both studying in VIth std at Lourdes Central School and also students of Haruka said, ” Wushu and Tai Chi gives us stamina, gives us confidence, its good for our health and builds good physique- we are not afraid of anyone who threaten us, we are ready to use these self defense techniques in time of any attack. Our trainer is very polite, calm and trains us step by step without yelling at us.This art increases flexibility and increases stamina, and keeps you healthy and strong. We would recommend this art to every young kids like us, and you all be glad that you learned Wushu and Tai Chi- we are thankful to our parents for enrolling us in Haruka’s classes, and we are also grateful to our trainer for giving us the best training”.
Haruka Ito wants to promote this oriental culture well in Mangaluru, for the development of demonstration sport event, lifelong studies, healthcare, rehabilitation for disease etc. Born on January 29 in Hokkaido-Japan, Haruka Ito is a Wushu(Chinese Martial Arts) Performer and Wushu Taolu (Form exhibition sport) Coach. She is the Gold Medalist of Hong Kong InternationalWushu Festival in 2005/2007-2009, and has won the Gold, Silver and Bronze Medalist in All Japan Wushu TaijiquanChampionships, All Japan Wushu Taijiquan Tournament, Osaka Wushu Taijiquan Championships etc.-her total Medal Count so far : 16 gold, 6 silver and 6 bronze. Founder, Technical Director and Coach at Haruka Wushu Culture Institute(HWCI)
Haruka has participated in various tournaments namely :1990-2011: The 7th-28th All Japan Wushu Taijiquan Championships; 1990-1992: The 1st-3rd Hokkaido Wushu Taijiquan Championships; 1997-2004: 1997-2004 All Japan Wushu TaijiquanTournament; 1995-2010: The 3rd-18th Osaka Wushu Taijiquan Championships; 1997: The 52nd National Sports Tournament; 2005 and 2007-2009: The 3rd and 5th-7th Hong Kong International Wushu Festival and 2011: The 18th Kanagawa WushuTaijiquan Championships. She was a judge at 2010: The 8th Hong Kong International Wushu Festival -Taolu Judge; and 2013: The 12th Karnataka State Wushu Championship (India) -Head Judge of Taolu.
Haruka Ito achieved participation of 50 Tournament Competition in “The 25th All Japan Wushu Taijiquan Championships” which was held in July, 2008.
This number is counted by Participating Tournaments Competitions except for Taijiquan (Tai Chi) Events.. At the same “The 25th All Japan Wushu Taijiquan Championships”, updated the record(informal) of the oldest age participation? of Women Three Events Comprehensive. She has obtained Authorization Qualification: [Japan Wushu Taijiquan Federation]; The Grade 2 Certified Judge (Expired); The 1st class of Taijiquan (Tai Chi) Proficiency Measurement; The Class [B] Certified Instructor; The 1st Class of Changquan (Long Fist) Proficiency Measurement; and The Certified Instructor of Spreading Taijiquan (Tai Chi)
She is also the past Director of Board at Lions Club Mangalore (Region 6, Dist 317D). Apart from other Features and Lifestyle, Hakura wants to carry out business in Asian countries. Her favorite food includes Rice Menu, Fruits, Chinese Tea(especially Pu-er, Jasmine and Woolong ones), Cao Pat(Thai Style Fried Rice), Four(Vietnamese Noodles), Tea with sugar and milk; and her Indian dish favorites are Masala Dosa, Butter Chicken, Parota, Paneer Kurma, Shawarma tc.
Following are the excerpts from the exclusive interview with Haruka Ito:
Q. What made you to come to India, and land up in Mangaluru?
The present Japan has no hope for the future, because everything has been getting worse continuously. On the other hand, India has been in the development phase now, such a place has something opportunity to develop for the future. When I had decided to leave Japan in 2011, one Mangaluru origin NRI had introduced Mangaluru to me, so I decided to come here. I landed in Mangaluru on January 31st, 2012.
Q. Being a born Japanese, how do you experience living in a different country? How do you encounter this in everyday life?
Not only in India but also almost everywhere, Japan is misunderstood as ‘All Japanese folks are rich’. But, at present 62% of total population live in very hard and tough life. Japan is also a country which has both rich & poor, both good & bad, both safe & danger issues like another countries. However, once we Japanese land in other countries, we are considered as very rich people. From my personal view, most of Japanese people in Asian countries are never millionaires or rich, they select Asian countries to grab the ‘opportunity’ for challenge in their lives. Understanding of this point is not easy sometimes for local people, because they can not imagine we are not so rich, such a mismatching of thinking has happened often.
Q. Could you give us a short explanation on what Wushu exactly is, where it’s origins and what it’s main philosophy is?
Wushu means ‘Martial Arts’, a pronunciation by Mandarin Chinese language. In the ancient time,Wushu was considered only for fighting skills & techniques, but Chinese people are very hard working and sincere to learn & well researched people, they have found out the factors to understand this whole world from the aspects of Wushu. The origin of Wushu might have come from India, it might be Karalipayattu. Karali went to China, Chinese people modified and brushed up to hundreds of variation of Wushu. Then, one kind of Wushu reached Japan, it has changed to Japanese Karate. Now, these three martial arts have each of their own technical methods and own world, but they have each great culture, and development of these martial arts has made a big history, also beyond any border.
From my personal understanding, main philosophy of Wushu is; “Understanding of myself, understanding of the world, realization of our un-accomplishment things in our everyday lives. I learned these things through training during my past 25 years of life. Wushu teaches me what is the human being’s life and how important humble is for everyone.”
Q. Could you give us a broad overview of what all is considered Wushu?
As overview, Wushu has three main stream of its activity. One is a traditional style martial arts training, from Grandmaster to disciple, generation to generation. In this field, everyone should not call themselves as grandmaster without other’s recognition, because it is not appropriate. Traditional martial artists have training in their whole lives for more development of this great traditional culture for the future.
Second one is for healthcare & fitness. Training in Wushu is good to develop both body & mind, particularly slow motion form ‘Tai Chi’ has high level benefit for healthcare. Tai Chi practice as health care program is used for many kinds of fitness & rehabilitation institutions around the globe. Tai Chi is one of the most effective exercise for almost any kids of disease’s rehabilitation.
Third one is for competitive sports. Wushu consists of exhibition routine event-Taolu and free sparring event-Sanshou(Sanda). Taolu is very attractive artistic visual sport, because we can see the attractive beauty factors with the combination of defense & offense techniques. Traditional events demonstration bring us to feel how the people’s discipline history is great, and Modern events demonstration bring us to feel how the people’s unlimited challenges are beautiful.
This exhibition routine training has the development of choreography for movie action, for dancing, for stage art also. Now,Wushu is the worldwide great culture, which originated from Asia towards World.
Q. What motivates you to start with Wushu, and when did you start practicing Wushu?
The first time when I had became interested in Wushu was in 1983-1984, the first booming of Jackie Chan has started in Japan. I have watched his movie, ‘Drunken Master (Part 1)’ and ‘Snake Fist’ on TV, – I was really impressed with his splendid motions. Honestly speaking, I’m never interested in any kind of fighting, even now, therefore I was not interested in learning fighting from his movies also. What I thought was, ‘I want to be able to do this motion!’, that’s all.
At this time, I did not start to learn anything, because I thought there were no classes or no teachers in Japan.
This first encounter had happened in my Junior High student age(12-13 Yrs), instead of starting Wushu training, I started to think to become action actress during my Senior High student age(15-17 Yrs). Because one TV drama series which is the origin of American ‘Power Rangers’ has many action scenes like Jackie Chan movies- I wanted to do something similar thing to his movie. In my childhood, I was a weak physical conditioned child, but I tried to develop my physical strength to pass the audition of action actors agency while I was a senior high student, which I completed in three years.
Then, in 1987, I had encountered one actor who was a champion at All Japan Wushu Championships on TV drama, that year’s ‘Super Sentai (Japanese Power Rangers) Series’. He performed Wushu performance in the serials, I thought ‘Oh, it was there in Japan also!!’. I had known that there would be a possibility to learn Wushu in Japan also, so I started to search for classes information. In 1980’s, of course the Internet was not there. However, I could find out one class with a Chinese Wushu champion in my hometown. This Chinese gentleman was my first Wushu teacher, he was a member of China’s Beijing Professional Wushu Team, as movie star Jet Li, Jet Li was in same team also when he was a competitive Wushu player.
I still remember the date when I started to attend the class at first. It was September 9th, 1989. I can not forget this date for ever.
Q. Which aspect of Wushu attracted you the most and why?
In the ancient time, Wushu must be just fighting technique. But time to time, it has developed so well in many kinds of field. The multiple development itself attracts me so much. Besides, exhibition routine of Wushu itself has its original unique beauties, it attracts not only me but also others. We can feel how the human being body is full of sense of wonder from Wushu training and demonstration.
Q. How does Wushu benefit in your life?
My life was full of sadness and bitter experiences. Before I started to learn Wushu, what I did was only cry alone in my room. Although the same kind of situations and conditions continued as long as I was in Japan, at least Wushu always helped my sadness feeling & life. I always felt this feeling in my past quarter century, it saved me from suicide attempts many a times. Someone can take my money or item from me, but nobody can take my experience itself. This fact itself is the big benefit for me. Wushu gives me the life for the future.
Q. You have also been training Wushu in Japan. How and where did you experience that?
My hometown is Sapporo, Hokkaido. When I started to learn Wushu, Chinese teachers & coaches always lived in big cities only, like Tokyo and Osaka. But coincidentally, my first teacher stayed in my hometown when I wanted to attend Wushu classes, it was really a fortunate thing! For first 2 and a half years, I got trained in my hometown, then my first teacher went back to China.
After then, I decided to move to Osaka, to obtain better training situations of Wushu. For almost 17 years, I stayed in Osaka alone, by myself.
Fortunately, there were many real Chinese Wushu great masters, teachers, coaches in Japan. It brought me many studies and reflection on myself also, because I was not a good girl when I was small & young……..
Q. Does Wushu help you to immerse yourself in the India/Mangaluru? Has Wushu been popular in India? How about the response in Mangaluru?
I often get many inquiries/questions from Wushu people across in India through Internet. Wushu is a recognised sport from Sports Ministry in India, it is in a priority category of Indian Olympic Association. Many Indian people love the movies of Jackie Chan, they are interested in his action very much, but most of Indian people misunderstand ‘Karate and Wushu (Chinese Martial Arts) are absolutely same’, this point might help to promote Wushu in India.
All states in India’s have State Wushu Associations, India send their national team for Asian Games, World Wushu Championships, Asian Wushu Championships, World Games etc. SAI training centre provide national camp for Wushu also. So, I feel that Wushu is now booming in India. However, more appropriate promotion should be required, with the best angle of view to show the people.
Q. Would you recommend Wushu to other people? And how can they benefit out of it?
People want to recommend something which they love. From this view, yes. I would recommend Wushu to other people.Wushu has many variation of events, people can select what they want to, which they can do on their capacity of their conditions.
Particularly, Tai Chi is a very universal event around the globe. Practicing method is a slow motion with low pressure, above 60’s senior people can join it. In many other countries, even 60-80’s senior people enjoy the training of Tai Chi, they participate in the exhibition competition also. I want to promote Wushu , such like ‘Universal sports, universal lifelong study activities’ in India.
Q. What’s your message to the readers of Mangalorean.com?
We people often misunderstand that martial arts is just for combat activity, I too had the same thinking and feeling before I started to learn Wushu. But I learned there are other attractive things in it through my training experience. Learning itself brings us many kinds of huge benefits. Learning Wushu made me feel the same.
Therefore, I hope I can share this kind of experience & worthy feeling with the people as much as possible. I would like to share of feeling with the people; ‘Learning is the precious’.