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Kungfu Masters Finish Seclusion

ZHENGZHOU, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- Finishing a set of forms, 19-year-old American Philip Sahagun was pleased that the seclusion life in a Chinese temple made him understand Kungfu better.

    Philip Sahagun was one of 36 Kungfu practitioners from a dozen countries to have a nine-day seclusion in the Shaolin Temple in central China's Henan Province. The seclusion ended on Saturday.

    The practitioners were outstanding members of the Global Chinese Kungfu Star Competition starting March this year, which was jointly organized by the Shaolin Temple and Shenzhen Satellite TV Station in south China.

    Seclusion is a training method of Zen Buddhism which focuses on concentration and meditation. Shaolin Temple, built 1,500 years ago, is the birthplace of Zen Buddhism.

    During the seclusion, they not only learned Kungfu skills from Shaolin's 18 Lohan Kungfu monks, but had lectures on Buddhism and Kungfu history. They wore Kasaya, a kind of costumes of Buddhist monks, and ate vegetarian meals.

    To mark the completion of their seclusion, the practitioners performed martial arts, or Kungfu. But what they learned was more. "Martial arts are about self-control," said Philip. "We should fight for self-defense, not for violence."

    Dyra Sao, another practitioner from the United States, was impressed by meditation. "Kungfu is not only about fists. Mental power is also important."

    "Chinese martial arts are part of Chinese traditional culture, "said Shi Yongxin, abbot of the temple. "By holding the competition, we hope to promote Shaolin culture and Chinese martial arts to the world and enhance exchanges with foreign countries, so as to make people cherish peace and health more."

    The practitioners' performances were scored during the seclusion and the top nine - four Chinese, two Americans, one Russian, one French and one Australian - would go into the final contest later this September.

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