Lions and Tigers and Bears
The 10th Annual U.C. Berkeley Chinese Martial Arts Tournament

By Gene Ching

Ten Year Anniversaries are certainly going around this year. On April 13th, U.C. Berkeley held its tenth annual tournament under the direc- tion of Sifu Bryant Fong and his team of eager Cal collegians. Berkeley's Haas Pavilion echoed with the clang of wushu swords, rousing cheers of "jia you!" and percussive slams of staffs and bodies upon its basketball-court floor.

Wushu has enjoyed a long relationship with Cal Bears. Cal hosted one of the earliest performances of the Beijing Wushu Team (BWT) in 1976 and founded one of the earliest collegiate Wushu clubs, Cal Wushu, in 1983. It has made this event one of the largest wushu-dominant tournaments in the nation. So it most was fitting the father of the BWT (and teacher of Jet Li,) Master Wu Bin was the honored guest to start things up. He woke the Lions, dotting their eyes with real blood in a time-honored kungfu ritual.

Nearly 500 competitors took to the field. Cal used "backstage-style" laminates to keep the competitors organized and the competition floor uncluttered. Competitors were only allowed on the floor during their event, clearly marked on the back of their laminates, plus they had to run the gauntlet of the crowded warm-up floor just behind the entrance. All seven rings followed the International Wushu Federations judging rules. Competitors matched skills in wushu, traditional and internal styles but no sparring except for push hands.

The eagerly awaited Master Demo had a heaping helping of wushu luminaries with a sprinkling of traditional masters in a thrilling exhibition of martial tigers. There's nothing like seeing wushu's best explode on stage - their power, speed, acrobatics and grace is truly awesome. Former BWT demos included Zhuang Hui's beautiful double straight swords, He Jingde's powerful southern fist and double broadsword, Qiu Dong Xing's soaring long fist, current men's champ Jian Zenjiao's frantic 3-section staff and Cal Wushu alumni Li Jing's wicked spear. Patty Li's Wushu West students, Colin Lee, Cheri Haight, Jen Haight and Jerry Taing showed that they were the young champs to watch. Could these be the 2008 Olympians? Time will tell. More dazzling wushu came from Liu Yun Yin's circuitous Bagua, Jenny Tang's elusive Mizong, Kenny Perez's break-dancing ditang, and three masters from the O-Mei team: Li Xue's high-flying long fist, Zhang Jiatao's slamming staff and Chen Fei's crowd-pleasing monkey style. And the traditional arts were certainly represented by Bay Area masters Janet Gee, Dr. Johnny Jang, David Chang, May Lee, Wing Lam, Lester Wong, Chen Xiang, Tony Chen and of course, Bryant Fong.

As wushu marches towards Olympic status, Cal Wushu has led the way, not only with collegiate wushu but also for the kungfu community as a whole. Today, so many begin their warrior's journey in college. Always radical, we hope we can look forward to many more martial pioneers from Cal Wushu for decades to come. Go Bears!

Click here for Feature Articles from this issue and others published in 2002 .

Written by Gene Ching for KUNGFUMAGAZINE.COM

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