Everybody was kung fu fighting

Kelly Pickerel

Audrey Bodnar practices her kung fu moves against husband Scott Bodnar. Scott and Audrey met in the kung fu club and have been married for “12 wonderful years.” LEFT: Karen Faulkner, Kent alumna, demonstrates a kung fu move. Green Dragon Kung Fu Club per

Credit: Jason Hall

Men and women, young and old, moved around Risman Plaza yesterday demonstrating martial arts to a crowd of onlookers.

The group, dressed in black, practiced kung fu hoping to attract those interested in joining its club.

Green Dragon Kung Fu Club, established at Kent State in 1971, begins a new semester promising improvement in health, strength and self-defense.

Marge Smith, a former Kent State student and current co-director of the club, said she sees more students understanding the importance of physical fitness now.

“(Kung fu) is great to add to any workout regimen,” she said. “We are an intramural club. The Rec was built for intramurals and offers basketball and swimming and martial arts. (Kung fu) is a unique experience.”

Laura Keptner, a 2004 computer science graduate, said Green Dragon helped her live a better life.

“It has changed my life entirely,” she said. “The health benefits (of training) are amazing.”

Keptner has a chronic disease that comes with a lot of pain. She said she would have been bedridden had it not been for kung fu.

“(It) is a great stress reliever,” she said. ” If you have any weaknesses, if you work hard enough (in training), you can get rid of it.”

Smith has a similar story.

She had been involved with kung fu for many years before becoming sick near the end of the 1980s. She said she believes that her earlier training and her continuation through the years helped her stay active and out of bed.

Jeanne Cross, who teaches at the University of Akron and is an assistant instructor with the group, said the training is not entirely rigorous and that anyone can participate, no matter what athletic ability they have.

“There’s a lot of soft style moves,” she said. ” Soft style generates energy, releases stress and is a great weight controller.”

Cross has been involved with Green Dragon Kung Fu for 31 years. She said she especially enjoyed the program when she was a graduate student at Kent State.

” I would schedule workouts, getting rid of that nervous energy,” she said. ” Then I’d do homework and actually get it all done.”

She said she believes that anyone else who begins training will have the same lasting effects.

“You’ll have more energy at the end of the semester,” she said. “Finals week, everyone was always so tired, and I was bouncing around, ready to go. Training makes you much more mentally alert just by having a regular workout.”

She added that you don’t need to set aside a large block of time to train.

“A lot of stuff you can do in your dorm room,” she said. ” You don’t have to set aside time and walk to the Rec.”

Forty different styles of martial arts are taught in one semester through the intramural club. It offers training to students for $40 a semester.

Smith said it is a unique opportunity for students because Kent State’s program is the second oldest Chinese martial arts program in the Northeastern United States. It also comes with 3,000 years of history.

Sophomore finance major Ran Ding, originally from China, said he is planning on joining the club this year. He said he likes how Green Dragon approaches kung fu.

“They offer some internal exercises, especially ones involving the Chi,” he said. “You can’t do it alone, and you need someone knowledgeable to help.”

He added that those involved with Green Dragon are very experienced.

Mike Burngasser, junior flight technology major, has been with the group for a little over a year.

” It’s the best martial arts experience by a club for such a great price,” he said. ” Here, you learn basics the right way, and that’s the most important part.”

The first club meeting will take place at 8 p.m. on Sept. 6 in the Gym Annex. For more information, visit www.GreenDragonKungFu.com.

Contact student politics reporter Kelly Pickerel at [email protected].