April 7, 1997: Headlines: COS - Mali: The Daily of the University of Washington: Mali RPCV Mae G. Monsanto writes about the martial art of a Chinese nun

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Mali: Peace Corps Mali : The Peace Corps in Mali: April 7, 1997: Headlines: COS - Mali: The Daily of the University of Washington: Mali RPCV Mae G. Monsanto writes about the martial art of a Chinese nun

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-115-42.balt.east.verizon.net - on Monday, May 31, 2004 - 1:33 pm: Edit Post

Mali RPCV Mae G. Monsanto writes about the martial art of a Chinese nun

Mali RPCV Mae G. Monsanto writes about  the martial art of a Chinese nun

Mali RPCV Mae G. Monsanto writes about the martial art of a Chinese nun

Learning the martial art of a Chinese nun

Defense | Students of a 300 year-old kung-fu form find it useful for defense, concentration

Mae Monsanto
Daily Staff

The students are still and attentive, watching the man talk animatedly in front of the room. He turns to the man next to him and speaks a few sentences. Suddenly, the mood changes and they are now deadly serious as they face each other. Both strike the appropriate poses.

They are ready to fight.

The art of Wing-Tsun kung fu is what instructors Walter Schmidt and Joe Perry are now teaching UW students.

The chief instructor in Wing-Tsun for Washington state, Schmidt has 15 years of martial-arts experience under his belt.

Besides Wing-Tsun, Schmidt has skills in Shotokan karate, Viet Vo Dao kung fu, freestyle wrestling, Latosa Escrima and Tactical Combat Escrima.

He has taught for 14 years in various places, including Australia and his native Germany. He has also taught in Seattle and Renton, Wash. Besides the UW class, he also teaches in Tukwila, Wash.

Schmidt explained that the discipline teaches the students more than physical movement. “Wing-Tsun is a life philosophy that anyone can learn and can apply in any situation,” he said. “It teaches you to face problems and work with them for your benefit.”

Students participate in Wing-Tsun for personal reasons as varied as the aspects of Wing-Tsun itself. Two classmates, however, share a similar motivation in signing up.

“It prepares you not to panic,” said Peter Gould, a senior majoring in art. “It allows you to defend yourself in a fight.”

Caren Hayes, a senior psychology major, takes Wing-Tsun “because Iím scared to live in Seattle.”

“Women are victimized and raped everyday, and I want to be able to defend myself,” she said.

The history of Wing-Tsun kung fu extends back 300 years. It is relatively young compared to other forms of martial arts.

It was originally designed by Ng Mui, a Chinese nun who wanted a way she and the other nuns could defend themselves against raids on their abbey.

Authentic Wing-Tsun is based on four rules: giving up oneís force, letting go of the opponentís force, utilizing the opponentís force and adding oneís own force. Everything a fighter does is centered around these principles.

Wing-Tsun also combines both a sensory and mechanical approach to fighting.

Chi Sao, the sensory approach to fighting, is essential and must be learned before furthering instruction in Wing-Tsun.

It involves using the nervous system and its ability to sense through feeling. Students learn how to react faster according to pressure, rather than just using their eyes.

The second important part of Chi Sao teaches students how to use the pressure or the “force” of their opponent against them.

The mechanical part of Wing-Tsun involves applying a variety of principles. Learning where the studentís “center line” lies is an important issue. The center line can be found by drawing an imaginary “X” from the waist to the head. The point at which the “X” crosses is where the center line extends outward.

The rest of the body must line up and follow through this extension. The center line will be used as a point with which to target the opponent, but it must also be adjusted according to the opponentís height.

Schmidt explained, “The center line is principal because every target you hit will have the exact distribution from all points.”

Whatever direction a fighter strikes from his or her center line should take the same amount of reaction time.

Other steps inherent in the mechanical aspect of Wing-Tsun involve the actual fighting that takes place in an area called the “middle field.”

“This is the point where one enters the fighting mode,” Schmidt said.

In the middle field, the student of Wing-Tsun enters only after their opponent makes the first move.

A fighter trained in Wing-Tsun will move just as fast as the opponent who entered the middle field, and strike him or her down before the opponent can do any harm.

“Like a magnet, they will collide,” Schmidt explained.

Hayes said she feels that Wing-Tsun kung fu possesses a new and unique attack approach.

“I really find the movements are applicable,” Hayes said. “I can immediately get out of class and show someone what Iíve learned.”

The movements are not the only thing that makes Wing-Tsun unique.

“It combines geometry and physics,” said Matt Jones, head administrative organizer. “It also shows how to process those steps quickly in the brain.”

Wing-Tsun also allows students to experience the cultural differences between China and the United States, Jones added.

For Schmidt, the most important thing students should know before starting Wing-Tsun classes is consistency.

“You canít build this overnight,” he said. “You need a foundation to start from.”

“Everything comes in time,” he added.

Wing-Tsun demonstrations will be held today at 3 p.m. in the Hall of Fame Room in Hec Ed Pavilion and 6:30 p.m. in McMahon Hall, Tuesday, April 8 at 6:30 p.m. in Haggett Hall, Wednesday, April 9 at 6:30 p.m. in Terry/Lander and again Thursday, April 10 in Hec Ed at 5:30 p.m.

Students who sign up for the Wing-Tsun class at a free demo will receive a free month of instruction.

Copyright © 1997 The Daily of the University of Washington

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