Tue, 05 Dec 2023

Interview: A heart journey of U.S. Wushu enthusiast

Xinhua
20 Nov 2023, 11:44 GMT+10

by Zhou Yilan

FORT WORTH, United States, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- Krist Caldwell, a commentator for Sanda competitions of the ongoing 16th World Wushu Championships (WWC) in Fort Worth, U.S. state of Texas, is an American Wushu enthusiast with over 20 years of experience.

Caldwell, an American attorney in his early 40s living in Plano, a city about 50 miles away from Fort Worth, shared his journey into Chinese martial arts with Xinhua in an exclusive interview during the championships.

"My mother used to take my brother and me to the library every Sunday after church. And one day while in the sporting section I found a book on martial arts. It had all kinds of martial arts including Japanese martial arts, Korean martial arts, Chinese martial arts, and even martial arts from Thailand and American boxing," he recalled.

Caldwell came to the chapter on Chinese martial arts, where he discovered that Chinese martial arts are the first origin of all martial arts, starting at Shaolin Temple in China. "All other martial arts come from there!"

"That really impressed me," Caldwell said. He continued to explore different styles of Kung Fu, including tiger, snake, and even the drunken style, which involves pretending to be drunk. "This caught my imagination. I fell in love with martial arts when I was 13 years old," he said.

After over 20 years of practicing Chinese traditional martial arts, "it is still my passion," he told Xinhua.

Caldwell observed that Kung Fu is distinct from taekwondo or karate because each move in Kung Fu has unique names like the monkey king swings the stick, or General Kwan (Guan Yu, a general in ancient China) holds a sword. "Then you have to read the history and then you find out this is the monkey king and that is the famous general from China's Three Kingdoms Period," Caldwell said.

According to Caldwell, training in Kung Fu also involves learning about the culture and history behind Chinese martial arts.

Caldwell has had the opportunity to meet people from all over the country and the world through Chinese martial arts, having competed twice at Wushu world championships in China. He expressed pride in having visited Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, and even seeing pandas there.

"It was a very wonderful experience!" Caldwell said.

The martial arts also provided Caldwell access to historical sites like the Forbidden City in Beijing. "Those great buildings that were built thousands of years ago are still standing and they still look wonderful," Caldwell said.

"I've been very lucky to learn Chinese martial arts and it really taught me a lot about the culture and I'm very thankful for that," he added.

In his observation, Chinese martial arts were not very well-known in the United States initially. However, figures like Bruce Lee in the 1970s brought attention to them, followed by Jackie Chan and Jet Li. "Now almost everybody knows martial arts or Chinese martial arts," he said.

Caldwell noted that Chinese martial arts feature prominently in American movies, including crime and action films, and even in popular franchises like Star Wars. "If you watch those Star Wars movies, those Kung Fu stuntmen all do Woohoo!" Caldwell said.

Caldwell also believes that Chinese martial arts are spreading throughout the west, not only for entertainment but also for fitness and health. He sees a great potential market for Chinese martial arts in the United States.

According to Caldwell, cultural symbols like the cowboy represent America, while Kung Fu or martial arts represent China. He draws parallels between the cowboy and the Kung Fu master, likening them to Yin and Yang.

"The cowboy is strong, benevolent, and somewhat wild. The Kung Fu master is patient, strong and looks out for the weaker. So I think the cowboy represents the west and the Kung Fu master represents the east, but if you put them together, they're like Yin and Yang," Caldwell said.

Caldwell expressed excitement about the 16th World Wushu Championships, noting that martial arts build community among different countries.

"They can bring their culture from the east here and we can share the culture of the west with them when they come, you know, will be a wonderful exchange," Caldwell said.

This is the second time for the United States to host the tournament, with the third WWC having been held in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1995.

The 16th championships is due to conclude on Monday.

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