Sharpening his skills in martial arts


While most associate martial arts with various kinds of hand-to-hand combat, sophomore Kevin Liu’s passion for this practice manifests itself in a more unique form: dance.

Dedicating three days of his week to Wushu, Liu spends two hours every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at Jing Wu Tang martial arts studio. 

Originating from ancient China, Wushu evolved from more traditional moves into armed and unarmed combat methods. Related to Chinese Kung Fu, this self-defense technique holds more aesthetic value than its traditional counterpart and is practiced to incorporate cool visual effects. Liu emphasized the coordination and physical demands of practicing Wushu straight sword. When starting, it took him two weeks of training to learn the basics of using a sword. 

“[I perform every] five to six months, probably would be more if [Covid] didn’t happen,” Liu said.

The sophomore was first introduced to the art while learning Shaolin Kung Fu when he was younger. Having witnessed the impressive moves of other participants, it inspired him to try it himself. With the help of his parents, he was soon training at the studio—one which he still trains in today. 

“All those flips and throwing swords in the air was super cool to me back then, so I wanted to join some kind of Chinese kung fu,” Liu said.

Going on his 5th year practicing Wushu straight sword, Liu said his greatest achievement thus far was winning second place in a grand championship his first year of competing. He has also won numerous gold medals from the International Wushu medal competitions.

His favorite thing about straight sword dancing is the physical endurance that comes with learning how to do each move and flip. One of the greatest moves he accomplished was doing an aerial with the sword—one that earned an awestruck reaction from the audience when he first performed it. 

“Swinging around the sword after you finish, everyone claps for you after performing,” he said.

For Liu, practicing Wushu straight sword has allowed him to reconnect with his own culture and share it with others. 

“Since it’s Chinese Kung Fu, not many Americans know it and they think it’s amazing when they see people swing a sword around,” Liu said.” Expressing Kung Fu in general makes me feel powerful and confident too, because our movements are very bold and quick and it takes a lot of skill to be able to do that.”