The United States Kuo Shu Federation (USKSF; www.usksf.org) hosted the 2012 U.S. International Kuo Shu (Kung Fu) Championship Tournament at the Hunt Valley Inn in Maryland, July 27-29, 2012. This year’s tournament marked the 24th year of this annual event, which is sanctioned by The World Kuo Shu Federation (www.twksf.org). For over two decades, the USKSF has dedicated itself to the mission of promoting friendship, unity, physical fitness, harmony, martial ethics, and peace through the principles of Kuo Shu. This annual event has been the cornerstone of carrying out that mission.

This year in particular bore great significance for everyone involved in the annual Kuo Shu Tournament, as it is fondly called. Not only was it the Year of the Dragon, but it was also an opportunity for martial artists from across the United States to qualify for a spot on the U.S. National Lei Tai team. This team went on to compete in the Fourth World Kuo Shu Tournament, held at the Genting World Resort in Malaysia from October 15-18, 2012. Click here for more information on the World Tournament. Throughout the weekend, tournament participants had the opportunity to compete in over 250 divisions including forms, weapons, and group sets, as well as empty hand and weapons sparring across various martial arts styles. On-site seminars were offered by Master Zhao, Guo-Shun (Taijiquan Push Hands) and Sifu Mark Small (Shuai Jiao). This year’s tournament also hosted a special guest from China, Master Meng, Qing-Shun. Master Meng is the formal student of Chen Xaioxing and the 20th successor of Chenshi style Taijiquan. In addition to the amazing competition, spectators were also treated to an array of items from the Tournament Vendor Fair.

The 2012 International Kuo Shu Championship Tournament officially began on Saturday morning with Grandmaster Huang, Chien-Liang, President of the USKSF and 64th Generation Grandmaster of Tien Shan Pai, hosting Opening Ceremonies. This year, VIP’s were escorted into the event by the Lion Dance Team from Troy Williams’ Jow Ga Academy. The national anthem was once again presented by the Honor Guard from the U.S Customs and Border Protection Agency. Many congressional, state, and local officials also continued their annual support with representatives from the Congress, Senators, and Maryland State Governor Martin O’Malley. The USKSF was also greatly honored to have representation from President Barack Obama. The USKSF sponsors the only tournament to have had formal participation from The Office of the President of the United States since 1994.

The competition events began after the Opening Ceremonies, with Adult and Youth Light Contact sparring, Forms and Weapons competition, Wushu forms, and Taijiquan divisions. Lei Tai Full Contact competitors were fighting to earn a coveted spot on the U.S National Lei Tai team, and the action was fast and furious throughout the evening. The Saturday evening Master’s Demonstration is always a highlight of the tournament as well. This year was no exception, as some of the best masters from around the world demonstrated their various Kuo Shu styles.

Closing Ceremonies were held Sunday afternoon, where the individual and team trophies were awarded. Individual Lei Tai medals were presented to first through fourth place. This year the Lei Tai Team trophies were awarded to Richard Lee’s East West Kung Fu (Alamo, CA) for 1st place; Glenn Wilson’s Martial Arts Academy (Orlando, FL) for 2nd place; and John Ozuna’s KO Kung Fu (San Jose, CA) taking 3rd place. The Forms Team trophies were awarded to Richard Lee’s East West Kung Fu (Alamo, CA) for 1st place; Calvin Chin Martial Arts Academy (Newton, MA) in 2nd place; and Wah Lum Kung Fu & Tai Chi Academy (Malden, MA) taking 3rd place. Each year, The Grand Champion trophy, (the “Wang, Chueh-Jen Cup”, in honor of 63rd Generation Tien Shan Pai Supreme Master Wang, Chueh-Jen) goes to the team with the best all around score. Once again, Richard Lee’s East West Kung Fu, from Alamo, CA took home the Wang, Chueh-Jen Cup. Click HERE for tournament awards and results.

The weekend came to a close with the Annual “Kuo Shu Hall of Fame Banquet”. Before all the dancing and revelry, the annual “Competitor of the Year” awards were presented with categories for Youth, Teen, Adult, Internal and Lei Tai, Male and Female competitors. Click here for more tournament results. The “Judge of the Year” award for 2012 went to Shifu Martin Ware from Western Hills Kung Fu in Cincinnati, Ohio. This banquet also highlighted the members of the prestigious Kuo Shu Hall of Fame, a select group of some of the world’s most prestigious Chinese martial arts masters.

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 arts’ 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. Mark your calendars for next year’s event, which will be hosted on July 26-28, 2013 in Hunt Valley, Maryland. For further tournament details, photos, results, and additional information on the United States Kuo Shu Federation (USKSF), please visit www.usksf.org, call (443) 394-9200, or email info@usksf.org.