(Almost) everybody’s kung fu fighting

Sean Daugherty

Green Dragon Club teaches basics of Chinese art form

Kent State alumnus Scott Bodnar demonstrates a basic move to the Green Dragon Kung Fu Club in the Gym Annex last Thursday. Bodnar is a first degree black sash and helps instruct classes for the club. SEAN DAUGHERTY | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Jason Hall

Students who are looking for a way to get in shape and are interested in learning an ancient Chinese fighting style should look no further than the Green Dragon Kung Fu club.

The club teaches students the fundamentals of kung fu through punching, blocking, kicking and combat drills, and strength-building exercises.

“We strive to expose (students) to all the facets of the arts,” said Karen Faulkner, Green Dragon instructor and Kent State graduate.

Kent State alumnus John R. Allen started the Green Dragon club in 1971, making it the oldest martial arts club on campus. He began training with Master Fee Man Ong in 1963, and is still involved in kung fu today.

Allen is a sifu, a term that means “teacher” with the connotation of “father,” according to www.seattlekungfuclub.com. In ancient times, kung fu was taught by family, so students are referred to as “brother” and “sister,” according to the Web site.

Allen has been given the title of “master” but he refuses to use it, Faulkner said. The ancient fighting style was popularized by the late Bruce Lee.

Kung fu has many different styles and variations, including Hung Gar Kuen (hard, external style) and Tai Chi Chuan (soft, internal style). The hard style focuses on strength and power, whereas the soft style focuses on speed and agility, according to the Web site.

The club practices techniques from several styles throughout the semester.

Kung fu is not just a fighting style but a way of life, Faulkner said.

“You get a 15-week experience, but it’s the beginning of a lifestyle,” she said.

Students learn fighting and self-defense techniques, as well as how to focus their minds and concentrate. Kung fu also teaches how to use weapons in combat.

Though students will build core strength and learn useful skills, the results are not instantaneous.

“In no way is this meant to be a comprehensive kung fu experience,” Faulkner said, “or to create self-defense experts in 15 weeks.”

She said the purpose of the club is to provide students with a basic foundation of kung fu and to demonstrate the “discipline and dedication” needed to be successful at anything in life.

Yvette Vlack, Green Dragon instructor and geology graduate student, has 23 years of experience in kung fu. She said the style is a good stress reliever, albeit a difficult one.

“We encourage people not to quit because it is worth it,” she said.

The Green Dragon also has kung fu clubs at the University of Akron and Ashland University.

The club has demonstrations at FlashFest and in the Student Center at the beginning of each semester.

Jessica Szabla, sophomore international law major, saw the club at FlashFest and immediately became interested.

“They seemed to be so excited,” she said.

Szabla said she hopes to gain strength and confidence through kung fu.

Vlack said it is never too late for students to join the club, and those who join later in the semester can still catch up with the rest of the club.

“We would love to see more people get involved,” she said.

The club is considered an intramural activity, so a $40 participation fee is required. It meets every Thursday in Room 155 of the Gym Annex from 7-9 p.m. Students interested in joining need only to show up with their $40. No experience is required for students to join.

Contact recreational services reporter Sean Daugherty at [email protected].


• The club teaches students the fundamentals of kung fu through punching, blocking, kicking and combat drills, and strength-building exercises.

• There is a $40 participation fee.

• The club meets in Room 155 of the gym annex from 7 – 9 p.m. every Thursday.