Over the course of 25th and 26th of September 2015, Beirut showcased several performances by different groups from around the world, of Shaolin, Wushu, Taekwondo, Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu, MMA, as well as humorous fight/dance entertainments. A beautiful exhibition of martial arts, for the sake of anti-drug awareness, this show definitely had a lot to give to those who are unfamiliar with the different forms of martial arts.
The crowd was filled with a lovely amount of children, parents, military, athletes, and more, as they intensely watched the exotic and ancient cultures of combat sports which hold with them the practices of self-discipline, respect, self-defense, mental and physical fitness and development. Over the course of the two days, many martial arts practices tweaked for entertainment, inspired and enlightened the youth of Lebanon.
Among some of the performances well worth the mentioning, there was group of young Shaolin practitioners dressed in orange robes used all corners of the blue matted floor of a stage to express their incredible flexibility, and synchronicity, gymnastics based routine telling a story of warriors fighting amongst themselves. This act ended with interesting almost playful sword fights.
A couple of acts in there was a karate performance by 3 high driven females from Spain dressed in white Kimonos. These three started out with intense dragon like breathing heard across the open air built stadium. With precise and rigid movement they moved through different formations and techniques of karate, fighting one another and demonstrating a high caliber of skill. Surely this type of performance sparked the interest in more than ones heart to look into available karate classes!
The following act was of a Wushu world champion accompanied by 6 members each dressed in different colored Kimono like outfits. The emphasis was of a performance, not so much the detailed demonstration of techniques, which began with the Adonis, the world class champion and his female partner using swords from the middle of the arena while the others lightly danced and fought around the rest of the floor. It may have been one of the shorter acts of the night, but with the elegance and flow of colors, clothing, and swords, it was refreshing and vibrant to watch.
Another highly exciting act from the two days was a big group exhibition of taekwondo, by the Moroccan winners of Arabs Got Talent. Comprised of many different ages, from tiny little ones to teenagers, the captivation of the crowd was at its highest with a vast display of acrobatic back flips, kicks, splits and Parkour. Not only were there 3 flexible girls, one who can’t have been older than 7 years of age, who stopped the crowd with their synchronized one leg in the air rhythmic kicks to a snippet of Arabic belly dancing music, there was also multiple human pyramids constructed as other members flipped and twisted in the air to kick wooden slates and apples. At one point, even roses were kicked in mid-air which gave the beautiful visual of the colorful burst of red rose petals raining down, leaving the whole place clapping and cheering with thorough entertainment.
In light of the current situation of Lebanon, the struggles of the army couldn’t keep some from showing their support for the anti-drug campaign, and allowing the Lebanese public the honor to view a realistic demonstration of military skill. Perhaps a group of 20 or so military men marched into the area and went through multiple commando techniques of fights, throws, weapons including knifes, handguns and rifles all to the sound of the James Bond movie theme. They too constructed a human pyramid in order to raise the Lebanese flag, to the joy of the gratified audience.
Of course there was one special performance by one of Lebanon’s youngest champions; Shogun’s little Ramadan. This little boy has already made news for being a champion in and outside of Lebanon, and is becoming famous on youtube for his skills in Muay Thai. In an incredible display of strength and speed, Ramadan worked pads with his brother Ondi Ondash and gave the crowd a demonstration of real Muay Thai fighting techniques. He received an unexpected celebration for his talents by several world known fighters who were called onto the floor with the organizer of the event, to give a few heart-warming words for Lebanon and its young talented fighters along with a gift of new gloves and belt. This was followed by an authentic Muay Boran demonstration by his big brother Ondash and fellow team mate Yussef Aboud, also from Lebanon’s Shogun.
There were numerous other acts that entailed fight show mixed in with a dance act to the soundtrack of the movie Matrix, a brief mix of MMA and Jiu Jitsu, and one rather strange performance by a group of people in robes with face guards sword fighting, all of which played a part in keeping the audience positively satisfied throughout the whole festival.
It did seem as if perhaps not all the performers had enough time to perfect the whole routine to world class standards, but it didn’t take away anything from the show. This was an amusing night that can only have inspired and enlightened all those who had the chance to attend. Let’s wish for more fun filled festivals like this take place throughout the year, to give the opportunity for the Lebanese youth to learn, experience, and spark their interest in the deep disciplines of the martial arts that carry with them great values, culture, and lessons.