The Chinese martial art of Wushu isn’t just about self-defense–it’s also a kind of performance, and its popularity is growing as curiosity about China increases.
Now, a father-daughter duo who are teaching Wushu to the next generation.
CGTN’s Jim Spellman reports.
Outside Washington, .D.C, far from their native China, Anji Zhang and his daughter Olivia are spreading their love of Wushu. Olivia explains the difference between Wushu and traditional karate.
“Wushu movements are longer, are bigger, are wider, have more flow than karate,” she said.
Anji Zhang is a former coach of the China National Wushu Delegation and has competed on five continents representing China around the world. Olivia is known as “The Dragon Princess” a name bestowed upon her by the Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. after he witnessed one of her performances back in 2009.
At their studio, the U.S. Chinese Wushu Institute, where they train the next generation. Chinese and American students work side by side. Preston and Petrina Steimel are brother and sister.
“He started when he was really little and he liked it a lot so and he’s better than me,” laughed Petrina.
With a Chinese mother and an American father, they’re using Wushu to learn more about the Asian side of their heritage. They have come to appreciate Wushu’s mix of combat and performance.
“This compared to kickboxing is very different,” said Preston. “It’s like an art,” adds Petrina. “More than karate–that’s like self-defense,” said Preston. “This is self-defense but it’s pretty!” declares Petrina.
Wushu sometimes uses swords like these, or a staff carved from a tree limb. The Dragon Princess makes it look easy. Olivia said people are drawn to Wushu by the power and grace of the sport, as well as by a growing curiosity about China.
“The cool Wushu movements, as well as China’s economic growth, is attracting more people to the country’s culture,” said Olivia, “and Wushu is a major part of the Chinese culture.”
The Dragon Princess — and her father — will continue to spread their love of Chinese culture through the art of Wushu.
“There is so much to Chinese culture and being able to be a part of it, to display Chinese culture, I’m very honored,” Olivia said.