Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Gaethuse the Shaolin master ploughs back to the community

There is a popular philosophy that for one to be successful in all their endeavors, they need to aim for the stars so that when they fa1l or fail, they land on the moon. 

This seems to resonate with Maclean Gaethuse’s determination whom despite uncertainties managed to become one of the few ninth degree black belt or “Sash”  Shaolin Kung Fu masters in Botswana. 

“I was born in Francistown and grew up in Monarch township. My father relocated to Shakawe due to a job transfer when I was only five years old. That was the time when my life took a different twist as I met a Chinese national, Hing Wang Kimm, who introduced me to Shaolin Kung Fu training,” the 38-year-old said last week in an interview.

Gaethuse has since established an institution called White Tiger Kung Fu and Children Positive Discipline Academy in Francistown.

According to history, Shaolin Kung fu or “Wushu” as it is popularly known was established by Bodhidharma, an Indian Buddhist Monk. 

Kung Fu which is martial arts is mostly taught in the Shaolin Temples in some Asian countries. It has existed in China for centuries and has gained popularity throughout the world. 

This form of martial art has even made an impact in the movie industry with stars such as Jackie Chan, Jet Li and the late Bruce Lee.

Gaethuse says that although he was captivated by the sports from watching it in the movies, he never really believed that he would someday become one of its masters and instructor. 

“In Shakawe there some Chinese nationals who were undertaking a government construction project. Every morning they would pass by our yard and at times I would see them practicing and exercising. I was thrilled by their daily exercises and practices and I soon developed interest,” he says.

“To be honest, the training was tough as it involved acrobatics, spinning and twisting of the body. Kung Fu also involves usage of swords. This Chinese national who we referred to as our teacher would also show us Kung Fu movies and teach us about Shaolin Kung Fu. All of my friends ended up quitting and I was left alone. I almost quit but my mother encouraged me to continue and I carried on,” he said

“The instructor encouraged me to achieve a black belt or “Sash” in Shaolin Kung Fu. When I was doing Standard Seven I was already a black belt. I had covered advanced the form of Kung Fu such as “Taichi” and “Wing Chuan”,” he said as he proudly showed off some of his photos.

Gaethuse says that among the various techniques he learnt are Tiger Fist, Drunken Fist and Praying Mantis. Contrary to the popular belief that martial arts is all about fighting, Gaethuse explains that Kung Fu is all about discipline, mental and spiritual strength, avoiding fights, exercise, healthy living and most of all making sure that you do not hurt or physically harm other people.

“Kung Fu teaches you how to deal with tensions, conflicts and violence. My instructor taught me that sometimes you just have to run away from conflicts and avoid fights at all costs,” he said

“Kung Fu also teaches one to overcome evil which is often within one. My instructor told me during my training that by the time I reach 35 years of age I should be able to change lives by teaching Kung Fu and instilling discipline especially among children who are the future leaders. He believed that through martial arts children could be disciplined at a very tender age which would help them become responsible, morally upright and law abiding citizens,” added Gaethuse.

Over the years, Gaethuse graduated February 15, 2012, he was graded 9th Degree Black belt at a ceremony in Namibia.

In 2013 Gaethuse registered White Tiger Kung Fu and Children Positive Discipline Academy in Maun where he had relocated. 

He said unfortunately in Maun people do not take interest in martial arts. His spirits were, however, never daunted as he returned to his home town of Francistown. He said although he currently charges for his services, he is not really profit oriented as Kung Fu is all about instilling discipline and morals on children. He currently employs 16 instructors who are all local citizens and were trained by his academy.

“We charge for our services obviously because we incur some costs in my endeavor. I believe the training it can help the youth desist from ill habits,” he said

Although the academy also trains adults, Gaethuse says that martial arts training is best for children at a very tender age. He added that he is currently targeting to introduce Kung Fu training in Nursery Schools countrywide. He also looks to train more Kung Fu Instructors to join his academy. He aspires to train children from as young as three years of age.

“We have already begun training some students and we are based at Leseding Hall in Francistown and Nyangabgwe Hill. On March 8, 2016 I adopted Lekgaba Primary School. I felt that it was a way of giving back to the community,” he said

He said that he was currently working with SOS children in Francistown to offer his training services for free as they are under privileged and vulnerable kids.

“My instructor said that I should share my skills with the under priviledged children more so that he trained me for free,” he said.

White Tiger King Fu Academy currently charges P150 to train pre-school children and P350 to train those who are in the age range six to 14 years. 

“Those who are above 14 years are trained for free provided they come in a group of not less than 10. He said they have over 1 000 students and most of the lessons are conducted at Pre-schools and Primary School in Francistown and the surrounding areas

“The reason why I train the elderly for free is that I want them to pass these martial arts skills to the young children and help discipline them,” he said.

The academy also has a programme that trains women on self defence as well as weight loss. Both of these programmes are charged at P200 per person.


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