Wushu class is valuable cultural experience for Vancouver family

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Kerrisdale Community Centre offers classes in Wushu – a Chinese martial art. Photo: Cheryl Whiting
Kerrisdale Community Centre offers classes in Wushu – a Chinese martial art. Photo: Cheryl Whiting

Reported by Cheryl Whiting

Judy Chuk connects to her Chinese heritage, along with her son and daughter, by attending Wushu martial arts classes at the Kerrisdale Community Centre.

Wushu encompasses many styles of martial arts, and is divided into two disciplines; external and internal. External is more forceful, while internal is comprised of soft and circular movements, such as Tai Chi.

Chuk’s children are involved in a variety of sports, but Wushu has had a strong impact her kids. “I was born here so I just wanted them to feel connected to their culture in some kind of way,” she said. “I think it’s because it was completely different from the regular sports they’re involved in.”

Instructor says children benefit

Candice Wong, the instructor of the Wushu course teaches on Wednesday to Friday evenings for ages five to 19.

“We learn animal forms like mantis, tiger-that’s something that’s really interesting to them,” she said. “We do jump kicks, spin kicks, acrobatic movements, things like that.”

Wong said the children develop self-confidence as well as physical fitness.

“They learn how to stretch properly, learn how to work out properly, flexibility.”

External and internal styles

Helen Liang, vice president of Shou-Yu Liang Wushu Taiji Qigong Institute, said “So-called external styles are ­– you see people doing what we call forms routines with power, speed and fancy movements; jumping, flipping, weapons and internal styles,” said Liang, who has achieved mastery of different styles within Wushu and released DVDs on the discipline.

“[External styles are] the softer, gentler type of style but they share the same purpose and the same goal as a philosophy.”

Liang said the most important aspect of Wushu is morality, or virtue – the essence of Chinese culture. “When you go out into the workforce or anything you do out there, you know how to be there for somebody; how to respect people and help, and have hard work ethics and discipline,” she said.

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