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Yoga catches the fancy of Chinese soldiers

December 23, 2007 12:02 IST

As much as learning anti-terror skills from the Indian Army, Yoga too has caught the fancy of the Chinese troops as the first-ever Sino-Indian joint military exercise entered its third day on Sunday in Kunming in the Yunnan province in southwest China.

As one group of Indian soldiers learn martial arts from Chinese soldiers at the Kunming Military Academy in the chill morning, another of People's Liberation Army is totally immersed in learning and practicing the Yoga skills.

In an anti-terrorism drill, the Chinese soldiers were on Sunday exposed to Room Intervention, an exercise showing rescue of hostages held in a building after neutralising the terrorists. The Chinese closely followed the movements and accurate positioning of Indian soldiers in carrying out such operations of storming the building after lobbing grenades and entering room by room to clear the place of terrorists while being fired at.

Each Chinese soldier was assisted by his Indian counterpart in familiarising himself with the operational skills, as senior PLA officials also heard keenly and watched with avid interest.

Observers note that the Chinese side is expected to draw much upon the experience of Indian soldiers hard-boiled in anti-terrorist and counter-insurgency operations.

On another front, the PLA men seemed to have been swayed by Yoga. As part of the drill, they are learning pranayama, which is believed to do wonders in physical and psychological performance, and asanas from instructors of the Indian Army.

"They like Yoga very much. It is the first time they have experienced this. They are excited," Capt Zhou Ming said as he kept a watch on the performance of his men at the class starting at 6.30 am.

Asked how the Chinese army men were adapting themselves, he said, "Initially, they feel it is difficult for them because they are not flexible. But they will learn it and they want to learn much more".

Capt Param Harsh, Medical Officer of the Indian Army and an instructor, said, "Every body is participating in full spirit". He said apart from pranayama, vajrasan, bhujangasan, sarvangasan, halasan, chakrasan and nak padungushtaasan were also being taught.

These Yoga exercises would basically relieve mental stress, build internal stamina and enhance immunity of the body, he said.

Some overzealous Chinese army men stretching their body too quickly were gently reminded by the instructors to learn to do it gradually or they could land up with a muscle pull.

Indian soldiers are undergoing training in martial arts from Chinese experts in exercises, which would be helpful in an unarmed combat and self-defence.

Col. J S Budhwar, the battalion commander, said, "Martial arts is taught as part of the regular training to the Indian Army, but they (Chinese) lay more stress on it".

"Some of these techniques are not there in India. We will request the authorities to introduce them to us also," Krishan Kumar, member of the Indian troops, undergoing martial arts training said.

The joint exercise, 'Hand in Hand' began on December 21, with 103 troops drawn from the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry and an equal number from the Chinese side, as part of confidence building measure between the two armies, upgrading their ties to a new high.

Apart from the rigorous anti-terrorism drills, it has been fun and frolic for both the troops at the training, marked by a soaring spirit of bonhomie with each passing day.

The troops had a tug-of-war with both sides mixed on Saturday night amidst beating of drums and delirious shouts to cheer up the teams, with senior military officials from both sides seen admiring their boundless spirits.

The army men from the two sides are also practicing for a cultural show to be held at the conclusion of the exercise. The joint exercise between the troops of the two largest armies of the world has been hailed as a 'landmark development' in bilateral relations by the state-run Chinese media.

The Chinese government has said the training was aimed at building mutual trust and deterring 'the three evil forces of terrorism, separatism and extremism'.

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