Column by Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong
INSIDE KUNG-FU MAGAZINE
May 2005 Issue
Last October, the largest U.S. team and the only American team under Hong Kong registration competed int he First World Traditional Wushu Festival in Zhengzhou, China. The team returned home with a record number of medals in the hand, weapons and two-person forms divisions.
The Hong Kong Wong Gong's Hung Sing Choy Li Fut Kung Fu Association group was comprised of a team lead by coach sifu Jason Wong and this author, as well as five schools from White Dragon Martial Arts of San Diego; two schools of Eastern Ways Martial Arts of Sacramento; Golden Lion Martial Arts Center of Albany, Calif.; Concard Kung Fu Academy of Concord, Calif.; Tiger Kung Fu Academy of Reno, Nev.; and the Doc-Fai Wong Martial Arts Center of San Francisco. Fourty students from the above-mentioned schools won at least one medal. Of the 72 medals won, 20 were gold, 38 were silver and 14 were bronze medals.
The pomp and circumstance surrounding the event was amazing. Arriving in Zhengzhou, China, from Hong Kong, the team was met by reporters from the major China television and print organizations, which quickly zeroed in on our American team. Sifu Jason, my son, and I spoke to the media about how the study of kung-fu knows no boundaries. Whether you live in China or America, kung-fu can be beneficial to your health and physical well being.
The opening ceremonies rivaled anything you might see at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. A whopping 152 delegations from 62 countries marched around a stadium filled with more than 50,000 fans of kung-fu who waved, cheered and screamed when our USA/Hong Kong team appeared. The ceremonies included a concert featuring local stars; hot air balloons; a light show; music, kung-u demonstrations; and a fireworks display that could be heard and felt miles away.
Riding in a fleet of newly purchased buses, we traveled by police escort through the local streets. The birthplace of martial arts is the Shaolin Temple located in Henan province, Dengfeng, China. The teams were treated to a welcoming gala parade that stretched over 20 kilometers long and finished at the Temple steps. We were inspired along the route by the sight of more than 40,000 local wushu performers representing 83 local shaolin academies.
With more than 2,500 atheletes in attendance, the competition had to be held at two venues. Our USA/Hong Kong team of choy li fut practitioners had an unprecedented five generations capturing medals. Decisive wins by both my son and me - we each won gold and silver medals - help net the team an additonal two gold and two silver medals.
Although our team enjoyed both individual and collective success, it did not come without controversy. After the first day of competition, I was contacted at 12:30 a.m. at my hotel by the Secretary of the China competition group who said an officer of a U.S. Wushu/Kung fu Federation team had filed a formal complaint against us. The officer complained that a Hong Kong team couldn't include American competitiors. He demanded that we be disqualified from the competition and that we be forced to return our awards. While there were other Hong Kong teams with U.S. participants, we were the only team organization singled out. My organization, the Plum Blossom Internation Federation, has schools both in the United States and around the world, such as the Philippines, U.K. and Netherlands. These schools have their own identity, but participate in events under the auspices of the Plum Blossom Federation banner to support me as their teacher.
After much discussion, it was decided that we could continue to compete, but could not wear our bright yellow USA team jackets inside the competing arenas.
Doc-Fai Wong writes a bi-monthly column for Inside Kung-Fu.
May 2005 ? Inside Kung-Fu