US Combat Team visits China

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Discussion' started by pesilat, Oct 19, 2004.

  1. pesilat

    pesilat Active Member

    After more than 30 hours of traveling, we arrived at our destination, the Angang Hotel in Hefei City, Anhui Province, China which is about 250 miles west and slightly north of Shanghai.

    When we arrived, we were greeted by a group of young women bearing bouquets of flowers. We were each given a bouquet then escorted up to our rooms. We had an hour or so to freshen up and relax then it was off to meet with the Mayor, Vice Mayors, and other city politicians. We were sort of window dressing for an interview with the mayor then we went to dinner with the mayor and city officials. Also present was our host, Master Sheng, who runs one of the top Wushu schools in the nation with over 3000 students ranging from age 5 - 17 who live at his school and get all of their education - not just Wushu - at his school.

    They served us a 15 course meal for dinner that would set the precedent for the remainder of the meals we would be served in China. We were fed many gourmet meals and delicacies - but what's considered a delicacy in one culture can sometimes be just plain disgusting to other cultures. I don't know what most of the stuff we were served was but much of it was just plain nasty - and it wasn't just my picky palate. Everyone, even my instructor who likes asian food and had no problem with what they served him in the Philippines or Indonesia, had problems eating what we were served. That was our biggest problem during our stay. Mostly, we ate McDonald's (which also was pretty nasty by our standards). But that's really pretty trivial. We were there as martial arts celebrities so I'll tell you about those parts.

    We were there to give demos at the International Kung Fu and Arts Festival which was part of the 55th Anniversary Celebration of the People's Republic of China. The Premier of China was present at the festival and we all got to meet him. We had dinner one night with the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs. We were treated like superstars. We signed hundreds of autographs and posed for thousands of photos - literally. We were interviewed at a press conference and treated as guests of honor.

    There were 8 of us in the group - 7 giving demos and the 8th was the American organizer. The roster was as follows:

    Sifu Jeff Nares - the American organizer for the trip.

    Greg Cohen - a 16 year old student of Nares who fought a couple of exhibition matches against Chinese San Da fighters.

    Guru Ken Pannell and Guru Mike Casto - I'm Guru Mike, of couurse, and Guru Ken is my primary instructor who lives in Dayton, OH and is a highly respected instructor of Filipino and Indonesian martial arts. We gave demos of Filipino and Indonesian martial arts. For more information about Guru Ken visit and for more information about Guru Mike visit

    Chris Wood and Troy Hirschkorn - Nationally ranked Karate and TKD competitors who gave demos of the competition style sparring that they use.

    Nicko "El Greco" Kangelaris - was supposed to compete in the 2004 Olympics in both boxing and TKD for Greece (he's got dual citizenship in Greece and USA) but got screwed over by the Greek Sporting Commissions and is now involved in a law suit - him and the Greek government vs. the Greek Sporting Commissions. For more information about Nicko visit

    Ken "Flex" Wheeler - a former bodybuilder with a very impressive body of achievements in that area including a Guinness World Record. Due to some surgeries he had to have, his abdomen has some scarring that prevents him from being able to compete in bodybuilding anymore. So now he's returned to TKD and wants to become a professional TKD fighter. He also does personal appearances and personal training. He's an incredibly nice guy with a lot to offer anyone who spends time around him. He and Nicko put on a great demo. They came out and acted like they really didn't like each other. Then they did a semi-choreographed fight. It was incredibly well done, very funny in a lot of places, and they really got the crowd stirred. Flex, with his background in bodybuilding, really knows how to work a crowd. For more information about him visit

    We had a lot of fun hanging out with these other martial artists and even had some time to work out some with them at various points. We were also approached by some of the Wushu players for pointers on how to apply what they do in their Wushu. They move extraordinarily well but don't have much in the way of application.

    We also got to do a little sight seeing. We visited this amazing place that had scale models of a lot of sights from all over China. It was incredible.

    Personally, I took a walk through a park near our hotel. There was a great temple there, unfortunately closed to the public, and a lot of interesting sculptures. While there, I met a girl named Han Lin who was from Shanghai. She spoke english pretty well and we started talking. She teaches Tai chi, Bagua, and Mantis in Shanghai. I told her a little about the Filipino and Indonesian arts that I study. She showed me some of her forms and I showed her some of mine. It was a very cool sharing experience and she invited me to train with her if I ever make it to Shanghai.

    Also, there was a woman named Zhang Ya Qiong at the festival. She's a national Wushu champion. She spent quite a bit of time with me and Guru Ken asking us (via a translator) about applications. She was a little firecracker. Full of energy and eager to learn.

    As I said previously, the food was our biggest problem and there were some incidents on the trip that were downright aggravating but, on the whole, it was a very good trip and I look forward to my next trip to China - whenever that may be :)

  2. Kwajman

    Kwajman Penguin in paradise....

    Hey, good post! Any more info or pictures?
  3. TyrX

    TyrX Unregistered Non-User

    Sounds like the experience of a lifetime, sans the food!
  4. pesilat

    pesilat Active Member

    What kind of other info? Flex has a bunch of pics - 182 to be exact - on his website from the trip. I've got some pics that I need to get developed still but I've been too busy. I got back from China and had 3 days to finish moving into my new house, then my wife & I headed to AZ to hike the Grand Canyon. We just got back from there yesterday and I fly to Denver on Thursday to teach this weekend.

  5. bcullen

    bcullen They are all perfect.

    So close, yet so far. I was up in Prescott today and was hoping to get up to Flagstaff as well but time didn't permit. I'll be in Denver sometime within the next two months. Looks like we have similar schedules. :)

    Two words, Mike: Digital camera ;)
  6. pesilat

    pesilat Active Member

    LOL. I had plenty of crap to lug to and from China and wanted to limit the amount of expensive stuff I had with me :) So all I took was a disposable camera. That way if something happened to it or it got lost, it wouldn't be a big deal.


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