The 33rd Annual Can-Am International Championships, Wushu and Qigong Festival

(CNC TV report from Vancouver, July 10, 2012)

Those past the age of 50 are always looking for ways to maintain their mobility and to stay healthy.

Ever since 64-year old Sandy Brewer was introduced to qi gong eight months ago, he has been hooked on the practice ever since.

And the practice appears to be catching on, as Vancouver’s 33rd annual Can-Am International Martial Art Championships has included the 1st Canada International Health Qi Gong Invitational Tournament.

Brewer is from the neighboring Washington state and he has no major medical ailments to speak of. Even though, he connected with qi gong immediately after his tai chi instructor Guo Cheng introduced it to him for the health benefits the movements provide.

“We’re all older people and that in itself helps because you can gain coordination. Guo has some people with Parkinson’s doing parts of qi gong and it’s really aking inroads with them.”

While Brewer is older in age, there were many young competitors who performed at the opening ceremony, including 16-year-old McKenna Jolly.

Jolly is an extreme martial arts practitioner whose discipline involves many different styles. She performed an exciting routine at the opening ceremony with her brother Eli (EEH-LIE).


“Extreme martial arts is a blend of traditional hard style and soft-style martial arts. So it’s kind of the best of both worlds thrown together. You do a lot of flips, a lot of tricks, a lot of kicks, it’s very intense, there’s a lot of yells. It’s kind of fun to watch, it’s like the Power Rangers and the Ninja Turtles, it’s that kind of a grade of martial art.”

Jolly, who also teaches martial arts to young children, said she was drawn to this growing sport as it is very much a show of athleticism.

“I’m very much a physical person. I love to run, swim, bike, all that stuff, and martial arts, what’s nice about it is you got the intense side of it, the jumping, the kicking, the hard training, upper body, lower body core, everything, and you also got the very calming tai chi, qi gong, soft-style stuff, very spiritual. So it’s the mind and body. It’s always said that way, but that’s exactly what it is.”

With the majority of the competitors coming from Canada and the neighboring United States, Ken Low, the tournament promoter, said it was his goal to create an event that would attract international participants with world-class skill levels.

This year’s tournament also added the 1st International Wushu Festival.

Participants who traveled the furthest for the tournament included two Chinese groups who came from Beijing and Shandong province, respectively. About 600 participants in total compete.

“Because I want to emphasize the fact that martial arts has no boundaries and it’s international. We can practice Chinese wushu, or tai chi or taekwondo or hapkido. Any martial arts is a good martial arts, so that’s why it’s called the international wushu festival. Wushu in effect means martial arts in Chinese.”

Low, a Hong Kong immigrant who is known as Mister Martial Arts in Canada, said qi gong and wushu were included in this year’s tournament as they are forms of martial arts exercise that are good for everyone to practice.

“Because all the qi gong movements are designed to help the human body to strengthen the inner organs, the joints, the ligaments, the focus, the balance, everything, so it is indeed an exercise to improve your health.”

Low said he was very encouraged by the support for the wushu festival and he wanted to make it an annual event.

“When you practice martial arts, you get healthy, you stay in focus, and that’s why I want to provide an opportunity here for martial artists from not just the Chinese kung fu or wushu, but from all nations. American karate, Korean hapkido, Chinese kung fu, Brazilian jujitsu, everybody has a chance to get together to communicate and to exchange techniques and develop friendship. I think that’s a wonderful thing and we want to make sure that these different cultures, we live in a country of multiculture and this fits in with this particular direction. Many countries and many martial arts have their own cultures and I think they’re all valuable. We should know, we should learn and understand each other.”

The 33rd Annual Can-Am International Championships concluded on Sunday.

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