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
From its inception, the USAWKF has been dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and promotion of a traditional and contemporary wushu-kungfu in the United States. By coordination wushu-kungfu competitions and activities, and acting as a governing body for the sport in this country, the Federation seeks not only to make national progress in organizing wushu-kungfu but also to represent the U.S. and develop the sport on an international level.
The 1995 World Wushu Championships stands as a testament to the dedication of that goal. Two years after its formation, the USAWKF organized and hosted the Third World Championship in Baltimore, Maryland. With nearly 800 athletes and officials from more than fifty countries, this was the first time the Championship was held outside of Asia, and it was the largest ever. The USAWKF was proud to offer hospitality and friendship to the many athletes from around the world.
The USAWKF has brought its U.S. Team to Rome and Hong Kong in 1997 and 1999 respectively. In 2001, the U.S. will be competing in Armenia at the 6th World Wushu Championships.
USAWKF Board of Directors
Executive Vice President
Vice President for Contemporary Wushu
Vice President for Internal
Vice President for Kungfu
Vice President for Sanda