Lilly recently sat down with our friend, HI acting alum and Wushu World Champion Hussain Sadiqi. Hussain has been working hard to inspire and educate the young men and women of Afghanistan through his Shaolin School for Kung Fu. Enjoy this inspiring interview from this remarkable man.
Hussain, I have known you now for many years. Whatever you turn your hand to you seem to achieve. You are a world champion in Kung Fu, you have opened a Shaolin School in Afghanistan for young men and women giving them so much joy and hope and you are also doing everything in your power to make sure the people of Afghanistan have a bright future. Where does this drive and determination come from?
My father was a blacksmith, and as a child and teenager I worked in his shop. Within his tiny small poor shop he taught me to make a sharp, steel knife. You have to put the piece of iron into a very high temperature fire and then hammer it many, many times to turn that iron into steel, and then shave it into a nice sharp knife. My father in his tiny small blacksmith shop, shaped my inner strength and my personality. In my life I went through many hardships since my childhood and I learned everything the hard way and that’s why I don’t take things for granted.
It’s no secret that you love Bruce Lee – how much has he inspired you to live the life you are living now?
Bruce Lee for sure was one of my great heroes and idols. As a child in the remote mountain area of Afghanistan, just by seeing his picture I entered into the world of Martial Arts. Martial Arts formed my goals and achievements in my life. However later on in my life, I learned that I have to be myself rather than somebody else like Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan. They are my role models and I admire them, but they are not me.
You joined us on HI right back when we first started in 2010. Tell us what that experience meant to you and what you gained from it?
As Martial Arts set the goals and dreams in my early life, HI opened a new gate of dreams on a greater stage of my life where I could use everything I learned in the past with all my dreams and turn them to reality. I wish I stayed in LA to pursue my acting dreams but there were bigger plans for me.
It’s so inspiring and huge what you are doing for the young men and of course the women of Afghanistan. I can imagine it’s also very risky for you. Can you explain how you feel about this and what it means to you?
This past few years here in Afghanistan were so challenging for me in so many different ways but I stayed and faced all those challenges. It was so hard to deal with many difficulties such as security as the main problem, in which 3 times I was 15 seconds to 1 minute away from the suicide explosion with over 50 people killed in each of them. Here people are very tight with their old culture and in many families girls are not even allowed to study at school. But with hard work and persistence I was successful to make those families send their girls to school to get education, and attend my academy to learn martial arts.
What is one piece of advice you would give to young people striving for their dreams today?
Set a goal and a big goal for their future, and work towards it with hard work and persistence and never listen to when people say NO, as NO for me was always Next Opportunity.
What has been the highlight of your life so far?
Firstly, when I was 6 years old one morning I saw other kids we used to play amongst each other and they were wearing their nice clothes with their nice bags and they were ready to go somewhere. I went with them too but with my pyjamas and an old shirt I had on. That day we all went to school and they were enrolling at school with their parents amongst them but I was alone – and when the person who enrolled the kids asked me why I was there I replied, “I want to be in school too.”
So he asked me what my family name was and I said, “I don’t know.” Until that time I didn’t know I had a family name. I told that person my name is just Hussain. That night I asked my father what our family name was. My father asked me why I am asking about my family name? I replied that I enrolled into a school.
My father just looked at me with silence. Many years later I found out what it meant, that look and silence meant I’ve done the first big, good and unexpected work in my life.
My father was very against my martial arts but he was very supportive of my education. I actually hid my martial arts training for 6 years from him until I got into the National Team and then he found out. That’s why in 2012 when I won the International Gold medal the first thing I did was call my father and told him that I have become the World Champion. To earn my father’s satisfaction was worth more than the gold medal I got.
Going to L.A with Hollywood Immersive was great for me every moment of it. From the time I was selected to the team, traveling, studying, living and learning and meeting the stars all was magnificent memories and experience in my life. HI opened a new gate of my dreams in the highest acting industry anybody could dream of.
What is your ultimate dream for the future?
I have a few dreams to fulfill:
First, I want to build a school – 2700 meters above the sea level village.
As a small boy from that village who recognize an international level I owe them. Especially when I returned to my village there many kids who came to see me with my posters in their hands and they study in ruins under the sun, I was ashamed.
Secondly, I would love to expand Shaolin School to the National institute of Martial Arts (NIMA) and gather sponsorship to help so all the boys and girls who have a dream in martial arts. Then NIMA could produce the top International martial artists from Afghanistan.
What is one piece of advice you would give to a 19 year old Hussain Sadiqi?
In this case I always remember what my father was telling me to do was to continue my studies and get my degree.