The United States Kuo Shu Federation (USKSF; www.usksf.org) proudly hosted the 20th Anniversary, 2008 U.S. International Kuo Shu (Kung Fu) Championship Tournament on July 26 and 27, 2008 at the Marriott Hunt Valley Inn in Hunt Valley, Maryland.

From the beginning of the event you knew this was going to be a special year for the US International Kuo Shu Championships.  This was the 20th Anniversary and The Kuo Shu Tournament, as it’s commonly called, did not disappoint.  The annual Tournament hosted over 500 competitors from 15 countries, including the United States, Taiwan, China, Singapore, Nepal, the United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, Spain, Switzerland, Russia, Canada, Serbia, Italy, and Poland.  The tournament, sanctioned by The World Kuo Shu Federation (www.twksf.org), promotes friendship, unity, physical fitness, harmony, martial ethics, and peace around the world by bringing together martial artists from every walk of life.  This annual event has become one of the most highly anticipated tournaments in the United States.

The Kuo Shu Tournament officially began on Saturday morning with Grandmaster Huang, Chien-Liang, President of the USKSF, and 64th Generation Tien Shan Pai, hosting Opening Ceremonies.  This year, 8 Lucky Lions escorted Grandmaster Huang and the Tournament VIP’s into the event!  Many congressional, state, and local officials continued their annual support with representatives from U.S. Senators Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin Cardin.  Once again, the Executive Office of the President was also represented at the Opening Ceremonies.  The USKSF sponsors the only tournament to have formal participation from The Office of the President of the United States since 1994.  In addition to the spectacular Lion Dancing, there was also a special Opening Ceremony Master’s Demonstration highlighting various styles of traditional Chinese Kuo Shu.  These styles included, 7 Star Preying Mantis, Jow Ga, White Crane, Hung Gar, Wu Dang Long Men, Tien Shan Pai, and Bok Fu Do Kenpo.

The official competition began after opening ceremonies, with Adult and Youth Light Contact, Forms and Weapons, Wushu and Taijiquan divisions. Elimination rounds for the Lei Tai Full Contact fights began in the afternoon in the main ballroom, as other events continued around them.   Throughout the weekend, tournament participants would have had the opportunity to compete in over 270 divisions as well as take on-site seminars from world-reknownrenowned masters.  Additionally, 2008 saw the TWKSF sponsored International Referee Certification Training.  Fifteen participants went through a full week of grueling written and practical training for forms, weapons, and Lei Tai (full contact) sparring.  One of this year’s graduates stated, “this was some of the toughest training I’ve been involved in since medical school.” We look forward to seeing those referees honing their skills in preparation for The World Kuo Shu Tournament held in Germany in 2009.  Kuo Shu Federation Ranking Certifications and Support awards were also presented on Saturday evening.

Although it seemed impossible, the Saturday evening Master’s Demonstration was even more impressive than the Opening Ceremonies’.  This year, some of the best masters from around the world demonstrated their skills.  This list included Master An, Ji Zhang, Master Liu, Xiao Ling, Grandmaster Lu, Jun Hai, and Grandmaster Steve L. Martin to name a few.  The highlight of the evening was the return of Grandmaster Pui Chan, who has not performed at the Kuo Shu Tournament in a number of years.  Grandmaster Chan proudly stated that he would only perform again for something as special as the 20th Anniversary Kuo Shu Championships and presented a plaque to Grandmaster Huang Chien-Liang to commemorate his 35 years in martial arts.  This year, the Lei Tai (Full Contact) finals resulted in several local and regional fighters earning medals, including Robert Olsen and J.D. Carr from US Martial Arts Academy in Timonium, MD; Daniel Cabell from Traditional Wing Chun Kung Fu of Maryland in Nottingham, MD; Matt Arminio from Kevin Preston’s Siu Lum Pai Chinese Boxing Academy in New Cumberland, PA; and Patrick Brady from Little River Kung Fu in Stroudsburg, PA.

Sunday brought the remainder of the events, including more Youth events, Light Contact Sparring, Two-Man Sets, Kenpo, Shuai Jiao, Chi Sao, Baquazhang, Xingyiquan, and both Limited Step and Freestyle Push Hands divisions. Closing Ceremonies were held Sunday afternoon, where the team trophies were awarded. The Forms/Weapons Team trophies were given to Richard Lee’s East West Kung Fu (Alamo, CA) for 1st place, Canadian Cheng Style Tai Chi Chuan Association (Vancouver, Canada) in 2nd place, and Wah Lum Kung Fu (Orlando, FL) taking 3rd place. Lei Tai medals were presented to first through fourth place, with first place medalists also receiving Championship Belts. The Lei Tai Team trophies were awarded to Richard Lee’s East West Kung Fu (Alamo, CA) for 1st place, Western Hills Kung Fu (Cincinnati, OH) in 2nd place, and Japan Sanda Combat Association (Kyoto, Japan) taking 3rd place. The Grand Champion trophy, (the “Wang, Chueh-Jen Cup”, in honor of Supreme Master Wang, Chueh-Jen, Grandmaster Huang’s Shih-Fu) goes to the team with the best all around score. Once again, Richard Lee’s East West Kung Fu, from Alamo, CA won 1st place.

The weekend came to a close with the Annual “Kuo Shu Hall of Fame Banquet”. This banquet brings together competitors, Judges and other officials in a celebration of martial arts and friendship. The “Competitor of the Year” and “Judge of the Year” awards were presented from sealed envelopes, insuring surprises for all winners. All “Competitor of the Year” nominees were recognized during the presentation. The categories included Youth Female, Youth Male, Teen Female, Teen Male, Adult Female, Adult Male, Internal Female, Internal Male, Lei Tai Female, and Lei Tai Male. The winners, who each received an engraved plaque, were: Kaitlyn Yong and Zachary Chen in the youth divisions, Whitney Berch and Alex Woo in the teen divisions, Miryam Dominguez and Rodrigo Maeda in the external adult divisions, Irene Yao and Thomas Lussier in the internal adult, and Angie Dominguez and Max Osterhaus in the Lei Tai divisions.

The annual US Kuo Shu Tournament demonstrates all that is worth celebrating in the practice of traditional and contemporary martial arts. The event emphasizes martial art’s ability to unify people from all walks of life, and promote both a healthy body and moral character.  As a method of cultivating the mind and body, Kuo Shu appeals to persons of all ages and nationalities. The honor, accomplishment, and true harmony that exists when those who appreciate martial arts come together on an occasion such as this, truly demonstrates the benefits of being a practitioner of Chinese Kuo Shu.

Mark your calendars for next year’s event, which will be hosted on the last weekend in July in Maryland.  The 2009 Kuo Shu Tournament will be a qualifier for The World Kuo Shu Federation Tournament.  The World Tournament will be held  in September 2009 in Neu-Ulm, Germany – another event not to be missed!  For further tournament information,  results, and additional information on the United States Kuo Shu Federation (USKSF), visit www.usksf.org, call (443) 394-9200, or email info@usksf.org.