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Campus gets a kick out of martial arts
Posted on Wed, Nov 17, 2010 at 9:02 am
by IDMA Editor

High kicks and hands-free somersaults ushered in the 2010 International Education Week at SF State as kung fu masters performed in front of Malcolm X Plaza on Nov. 15.

Top-notch martial artists were part of the Chinese Cultural Day event hosted by the Confucius Institute at SF State, which seeks to encourage and promote the Chinese language and culture. The two-hour event, which the Institute hosted for the third time, demonstrated the rich history of the ancient Chinese art.

"Kung fu is part of a splendid Chinese culture," said Institute Director Jiaxin Xie. "Martial arts have a thousand year history in China and it's very welcomed by the people around the world."

Liu Ying performs Kung Fu during Chinese Culture Day at San Francisco State University - photo by [X]press - staff photographer

As people made room in front of the stage, kung fu masters Leo Wang, 25, and Liu Ying, 24, came out and performed synchronized, choreographed martial arts moves for the crowd.

"I might have the title of a master and can teach kung fu, but seriously, my understanding of the art is still extremely small in comparison to some of the grand masters," Ying said.

Anthony Garcia was eating lunch and waiting for the start of his next class when the event began. The 23-year-old labor studies major saw the performance as a reflection of appreciation of the Chinese culture.

"The performers loved everything about their culture," he said. "You can see it by their display and how they perform their activity."

The act switched into high gear when the performers did various acrobatic kicks and flips from side to side. At one point, a performer broke a piece of steel with his head.

"I don't watch a lot of martial arts movies, except Jackie Chan. I definitely see him out there," Garcia said.

The masters then demonstrated the use of swords and sparred to demonstrate the power and grace of traditional kung fu. Onlookers were mesmerized by the intricacy of their skills as they watched the demonstrations.

"I was surprised to see this kind of performance out here," said Audrey Roberts, a 30-year-old student in the geography master's program. "I don't normally see many Asian martial arts. It's nice to see it here where I study."

The particular type of martial arts performed is derived from the style of Shaolin kung fu, which is considered the most well -known Chinese martial art. According to Ben Xzhang, the performance coordinator, kung fu originated as a form of bodybuilding for Shaolin monks.

"The history traces back to 1,500 years ago," said Xzhang, who has been practicing kung fu since the age of eight. "It was an art that was brought over by (the Buddhist monk) Bodhidharma from India to China. Now, we adapted the philosophy that we want to spread the wonderful culture across the world."

But the concept of kung fu extends beyond learning martial arts. There are various elements within the art of Shaolin ranging from the performance aspect to a deeper level of artistic expression.

"We chose Shaolin kung fu because it's the most globally known Chinese martial art and the oldest," Xie said.

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