My Kung Fu and My Life

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Yetao Wang, an international student from China brings her love of kung fu to the United States! Watch her perform this traditional Chinese sport and read about her plans to integrated it more into American culture.

Shooting pain races from my taut hamstring to my throbbing big toe, slick with sweat and sliding uncertainly on my bare feet, also inflammation left on the instep by kicking the sandbag the night before. I struggle to steady my body and unfold my left leg until it brushes past my nose. I look down: chalky minerals stain my black kung fu trousers, and a combination of dirt and sweat has transformed my formerly pristine sportware into drab gray. In the mirror, I see impossibly bold and brave taekwondoists grip the barre with quaking red and white knuckles as they wage similar, but more successful, battles against their lithe muscles. Somehow, my peers all seem born to be kung fu players. I ignore the pain in my legs and try valiantly to match their extensions.

 When the coach stalks the lines of straining players, I anticipate his corrections. I press my arched back flat, force my chin to the stretched out knee, and my standing right foot point forward. The coach pauses to inspect me like a four-star general. I wait, my left leg suspended interminably.

 “Lift the muscles in your center,” he orders. I suck in my stomach.

 “Your right toes are still turning out, ” he observes. I shift from the heel and press my right toes forward. As my heel squares, my leg dips to waist level.

 “Control your leg and lift it, ” the coach orders. I try to obey, but the spent body refuses to cooperate.

international student voice yetao wang“Lift your leg, ” he says, “or I’ll do it for you.” Gritting my teeth, my bones grind as I force my leg beyond jaw height. I hold the position. Temporarily appeased, my coach moves to the next player.

 I cannot remember how many times waking up from those past clear lifelike scenes, finding myself lying in the small bedroom in the United States. It was seven years ago I began studying Chinese martial arts. I know I have already missed the best time as a kid, But, love of sport from childhood supports my continued training without considering about what successfullness I can get.

 Although my life experiences may have prevented me from becoming a professional player, my education and training has made me to think more than that.

 While continued taking part in both on/off -campus Chinese traditional martial arts activities and being more and more familiar with the Sport Management programs in North America, the future plan is becoming clearer and more definite. I turned to be a UGA doctoral student of Sports Management in the Department of Kinesiology,   planning to devote to cross-cultural sport marketing. I’m researching how to develop Chinese traditional martial arts in North American fitness market and introduce Western sport management system into Oriental market, both in business and academic area.

Watch Yetao practice Kung fu while on campus!

 The current situation is not so optimistic in China that few universities have Sport Marketing programs. As far as I know, many Chinese students who are interested in sports related majors have only two options, the first one is going to those few Sport Universities in Beijing, Shanghai, or Guangzhou, really competitive for few spots open. While the other option is going to comprehensive universities which accept them as student athletes; however, no program related to sport is open there. Majority of Chinese student athletes are rejected out of the gate of sport.

 Those student athlete’s academic studies are not being paid much attention by their universities who are just making them training and winning medals to get return of investment of scholarships.

 Although I am much closer to my interests and competence because I’ve got the graduate education of Sport Management in the United States. I feel pity that many of my peers are still in a dilemma of looking for their future, facing bosses who have no idea of sport at all but in charge of sport corporations, or competing with many other candidates who are very good at their majors to apply for jobs out of sport field. Life might be harder for Chinese student athletes.

 Hopefully, one day through my effort, the mysterious old oriental sports could be more open to the world market and the eastern athletes could enbrace the systematic and modern sports education like our western friends do.

I’m still keeping my kung fu step and dream now by being a first year doctoral student in Sport Management at the University of Georgia with interested area of consumer behavior, especially kung fu in North America.

international student voice Yetao Wang

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