Girls training at the school in Henan. Photo: Chinanews.com
A coaching base for young footballers has been set up near the Shaolin Temple in northern China with pupils who have learned kung fu taking up soccer training, according to a news website report.
The soccer base is at the Shaolin Tagou Martial Arts School in Dengfeng in Henan province, the China News Service reported.
“This is a bold attempt by the province to bring Shaolin kung fu into soccer to deepen football reform and promote the Chinese martial art,” Zhang Wenshen, the director of the government sports bureau in Henan was quoted as saying. Monks at the Shaolin Tempe are world famous for their martial arts skills.
Three experienced football coaches had been sent to the training base by the bureau since last week, the report said.
The school has set up two classes of 50 pupils for boys and girls aged 10 to 12.
The children were chosen from pupils attending the kung fu school.
The article did not say how knowledge of martial arts might be applied to football.
The government set out plans earlier this year to set up a national system of training bases to try to raise the standards of the game in China.
The national team has only reached the finals of the World Cup once and they failed to win a match.
The Tagou Martial Arts School was built in 1978 in response to the revival of kung fu in China due to the popular Jet Li film Shaolin Temple.
The original Shaolin Monastery, on land above the school, was built by a Buddhist abbot who came to China from India in 464AD to spread Buddhist teachings and has been destroyed and rebuilt many times throughout history.
The physical training of monks at the Shaolin monastery during the 5th or 6th century by a Buddhist monk named Bodhidharma is said to have been the origins of Shaolin Kung Fu, or Wushu, and is among the oldest institutionalised styles of Chinese martial arts.
Shaolin Kung Fu has evolved into many different styles, but its core content usually consists of the basic skills of stamina, flexibility and balance, qigong meditation and combat skills.
Shaolin Soccer is the title of a 2001 Hong Kong martial arts comedy film written and directed by Stephen Chow, in which a former Shaolin monk reunites his brothers after their master's death and applies their exceptional skills to play soccer and bring Shaolin Kung Fu and practices to modern society.