The Universal Attraction of Kung Fu

To heal. To forget. To breathe. Or just to have fun. People have different reasons to dedicate themselves to Kung Fu. This is the story of seven international students in Kunyu Martial Arts Academy in northern China.

The Sinner
Andronikos Evripidou”I want to become a good fighter, one with a clean mind.”

Andronikos Evripidou (22) from Cyprus. Arrived 3 months ago, staying 2 years. Style: Traditional Shaolin Kung Fu

Andronikos is here because he wants to change. He’s done bad things in his life. There are people he’s hurt and they hurt him too. He doesn’t want to live like this anymore. That’s why he’s here, far away from his life in Cyprus. In a peaceful place where he can learn to become a good fighter. One with a clean mind.

“Back home I trained with the special forces. In Cyprus every man is conscripted. The training was hardcore. Undergoing interrogation methods was part of it. It was a tough time. I’d rather not think about it. After militaryservice I worked as a barman and lifeguard. But I always felt angry and out of control. I went out almost every night, got drunk and ended up in street fights for no reason. Because of the hatred I felt, I couldn’t see clearly what I was doing. My mother and sister thought it would be a good idea to come to this place to get my life back together.”

Cage Fights
“As a kid I dreamed about going to China to learn Kung Fu. I watched almost every martial art movie. When I was fourteen I started to practice Ninjutsu and later kickboxing. I became my teacher’s best student. So when he brought a cage to Cyprus, he asked me to spar in it. My teacher is very important to me. Without him, I wouldn’t know how to fight. I was one of the few students who said yes. I wanted to know what it felt like. There are not many rules during a cage fight. I was scared, but less scared than the guys I fought. I won every fight, but I didn’t like it. It made me feel like an animal.”

More in Control
“In the beginning nobody here talked to me. I think they didn’t like me because I was aggressive in the ring. I just couldn’t stop punching and kicking. Even after the master told me to stop, I would continue. All I could think of was how to finish my opponent. But now I am different in the ring, friendlier and more in control. And I’ve made friends. Slowly I’m becoming a different person. Especially Tai Chiand Qigong help. I don’t feel as nervous or angry as I did before. There are less aggressive thoughts in my head. But I still have work to do. It’s not always easy to get up so early every morning and I miss my friends and also my mother’s kebab. But I have a mission. After my stay here I will go to Thailand to learn Muay Thai. When I go back to Cyprus I want to open my own mixed martial arts school. Here, I’m learning traditional Kung Fu, Wing Chun and Chinese kickboxing. We don’t have those types of martial arts in Cyprus, I will be the first one to teach them. And when I do, I will tell my students that they should never start a fight or fight without a reason.”