Asians and Martial Arts; It’s Our Sports

Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li are some of famous martial arts actors in the media. From the movies they have been filmed in, many Americans have the idea and perception of Asian American being able to defend themselves by performing martial arts.  I was born and raised in South Korea. When I came to the United States, almost everyone in the class asked me about martial arts. They wanted to know if I knew Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do, or Kendo. Is this really the stereotype or is this real? I grew up watching many action movies, and martial arts-related media because of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li. Although they may have an impact on many people to go and get martial arts lessons, it is different for kids in Korea. Non-Asians think that all Asians know how to fight. Is this a stereotype?

 I do not know about Chinese people but as for Japanese people, many kids take lessons in Kendo, Judo, and Karate. After kids come back from school, it is their daily routine to go to martial arts school and take group lessons for at least an hour. When growing up in Korea, I did the same. I remember coming home from school, throw my backpack in my room and run to the Tae Kwon Do class. If you walk up and ask any Korean male if they learned Tae Kwon Do, they will answer, yes. This is not a mandatory thing in Korea; however, kids just love it and want to learn it. Although it becomes mandatory for Korean males over 18 to have at least a second degree in Tae kwon do through their mandatory military service, kids usually master it before it is their time to serve.

Many people might think that this is in our blood. It is in our genes to follow the tradition and the culture to master the martial arts. Going back to the history of ancient Asia, the Asian countries only had martial arts to defend their countries. It was mandatory for males to learn and master the skills. For years and years the Asian countries fought over land and other trading goods and lived under fear. This historical background has impacted the Asian culture to bring about the martial arts culture. Today, the tradition continues as it spreads to different countries. It is not a fighting tool or a guide to kill someone but rather it became sporting events. Approved by the Olympic committee, Tae Kwon Do and Judo are the only two martial arts practiced by athletes worldwide.

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One thought on “Asians and Martial Arts; It’s Our Sports

  1. I like your description of your experiences growing up–how might you tie this to issues we’ve discussed in class? For example, could you more clearly discuss this in light of some of the male/female APA representations that Ono and Pham cover?

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