Creating a new Tradition in America
The United States of America Wushu Kungfu Federation (USAWKF) is the official United States representative to the 146 member-nation International Wushu Federation (IWUF). The USAWKF is the first and only organization in the U.S. to successfully develop regional and national activities, and its formation has tremendously improved the way Wushu-Kungfu events are managed and conducted in the U.S.
Its origins date back to San Francisco, 1992, where a group of prominent leaders of the Chinese martial arts community gathered to explore the idea of a national organization to encourage the development of the Chinese martial arts in the United States. The idea was to organize a formerly unorganized sport, and this presented a challenge.
History of Wushu in America
The. U.S. has enjoyed a rich and more unique history of kungfu for more than a century. The California Gold Rush brought Chinese miners, laborers and merchants to the “Gold Mountain” in the 1850’s and 60’s, and along with it the early roots of Chinese martial arts which were kept secret within the Chinese community. The influx of Chinese to Hawaii in the 1870’s and 80’s also brought a martial arts culture which blossomed and continued to grow into the 1920’s, but it was not until the 1960’s that kungfu was slowly opened up to the non Chinese community. By the 1970’s its popularity exploded as Bruce Lee became a national hero and international star, and kungfu became firmly ensconced in American culture.
By the 1990’s the U.S. had witnessed not only a significant development of Chinese martial arts on its native soil, but it was also experiencing a continuous revitalization of martial arts talent arriving from overseas. A complex mixture of politics, economics and family ties brought masters and students from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland China and Southeast Asia. Along with traditional stylists came some of China’s best wushu competitors and coaches. The richness of Chinese martial arts here was immense by 1992, but the diversity itself – both stylistic and cultural – was one obstacle to organization.
Organizing the Sport
Organization, however, was essential if the United States was to compete wushu-kungfu events on an international level and have an official presence. The development of a tournament circuit and a national ranking system was also indispensable. With this agenda, the San Francisco discussions led to the election of a preparatory committee with a nine member executive committee.
This was the first step towards unifying the Chinese martial arts community in America. The members of the committee networked, corresponded with and talked to martial artists from all over the country to ask for their suggestions about how this proposed national organization should be formed and how it should operate. Following this process, two meetings were held in Baltimore, Maryland and Orlando, Florida with the executive committee to synthesize this information, which led to more meetings in early 1993.
In these meetings the group discussed bylaws, national and regional structures, membership, national competition ratings, fundraising, publications, national team selection, certification of judges and officials and other topics. A national advisory council was also nominated.
The United States of America Wushu Kungfu Federation was brought formally into being during celebrations held in Baltimore on August 21, 1993. During the ceremonies the USAWKF’s first officers and Executive Committee assumed their duties and responsibilities.
The Federation’s Achievements
Since its establishment, the USAWKF has remained dedicated to fostering the growth, development, and promotion of traditional and contemporary wushu-kungfu in the United States. Serving as the governing body for the sport within the country, the federation actively coordinates wushu-kungfu competitions and activities, aiming to make national progress while representing the U.S. and fostering international development.
One significant testament to this commitment was the organization and hosting of the Third World Championship in Baltimore, Maryland in 1995, a mere two years after the formation of the USAWKF. This groundbreaking event marked the first time the Championship was held outside of Asia and stood as the largest ever, attracting nearly 800 athletes and officials from over fifty countries. The USAWKF took great pride in extending hospitality and forging connections with athletes from around the world during this historic occasion.
In recent years, the USAWKF has also made significant advancements in enhancing its judging expertise. A remarkable accomplishment includes 19 judges from the USAWKF successfully passing the rigorous IWUF judges certification. This achievement not only showcases the federation’s commitment to maintaining high standards but also reinforces its credibility within the wushu-kungfu community.
Additionally, the USAWKF had the privilege of hosting the 16th World Wushu Championships, underscoring their ability to organize and execute a world-class event. This opportunity not only allowed the federation to showcase its dedication to promoting wushu-kungfu on a global scale but also provided a platform for athletes from around the world to compete and display their skills.
As the USAWKF continues its journey, the federation’s ongoing participation in international competitions, active engagement with IWUF activities, commitment to judging excellence, and hosting prestigious events solidify its role as a driving force in the growth and development of wushu-kungfu, both within the United States and on the international stage.
USAWKF Board of Directors
Executive Vice President
Vice President for Contemporary Wushu
Vice President for Internal
Vice President for Kungfu
Vice President for Sanda