Chinese Martial Arts in Chinatown
Chinese martial arts, a traditional attraction of Chinese culture, are present and are also gaining popularity in Havana. Barrio Chino offers classes in Southern style Long Fist, sword, spear, and club, and other forms of martial arts.
Roberto Vargas Lee, President of the Asociacion Cubana Wushu-Kungfu operates in an empty yard on Calle Cuchillo No. 17 e/ Zanja y San Nicolas in the Barrio Chino. His martial arts students participated in competitions and won awards in China. These classes usually attract children, teenagers, and young people. Their goals are self-defense as well as strong physique.
There are other traditional martial arts exercises that are more health oriented and usually attract older people and people with various chronic health problems. Tai Chi or Taiji, a health oriented martial art form is practiced in public parks early mornings by elderly people. A health exercise, Chi Kung or qigong, is also offered to members and to their relatives at the Casino Chung Wah.
As a practice very different from the practice in the United States, none of these classes are opened for commercial gains. All the classes offered in Barrio Chino are free to the participants. Students are welcome to give voluntarily a nominal amount of money, often a few cents, to the instructor at the end of each class.