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China*America International Martial Arts Team

CHINA*AMERICA INTERNATIONAL MARTIAL ARTS TEAM

In 1992 a group of Chinese delegates visited the United States and one of the performances this country offered them was of the martial arts under the direction of Grand Master Clifford C. Crandall Jr. The Chinese delegation was so taken by the performance that Grand Master Crandall was asked to bring a performing American exhibition team to China. As a result of over two years of work the China*America International Martial Arts Team was trained, and the proper paper work was completed allowing certain areas of China to see American martial artists for the first time. The team was made up of eight certified black belt instructors, all members of the American Martial Arts Institute. The team consisted of four women and four men with Grand Master Crandall as the coach.

Front Row: David Phillips, Clifford Crandall Jr., Nicholas Chuff. Back Row: Barb Hauck, Wayne Handy, Bill Hauck, Sharon Keep, Anne Petkovsek, Jill Crandall

With many shipments of materials and martial arts tools plus fifty-six suitcases, the team and their coach were ready to go. On December 2, 1994 the team left to perform the first American Team Exhibitions for the People's Republic of china. With them they carried letters from President Clinton, Vice President Gore, and many other Senators and Congressmen plus a vast number of gifts from central New York sponsors. The hopes were to demonstrate good will and American friendship to the people of China through the common interest of the martial arts.

WATCH THE DOCUMENTARY

Now back in the United States the team talks about a positive experience that will live with them the rest of their lives. The first performance was in the industrial city of Xinyu. This city, with over a million people, opened its arms to welcome the American team and hosted them while in the province of Jiangxi. The team was a guest of the people of Xinyu at the newly completed Beihu Hotel, a beautiful hotel that had only been open four weeks prior to the teams' arrival. The next large performance was in the Boxing Dome on the Beijing University campus in Beijing, the capital of China. Here the team stayed at the newly remodeled Beijing University Hotel on campus.

The members of the team varied in their daily professions making a cultural exchange of ideas and interest more possible. As the team received the red carpet treatment they viewed a nation working hard to better its country for the people that lived there. Mr. Wayne Handy (team member) said everywhere you looked there were buildings going up and work being done to improve roads and agriculture. Grand Master Crandall noted that in the three years since his last visit to Beijing, it had grown in size by at least a third and that the Vice President of the University said this growth was expected to continue. The performance at Xinyu was before 3,000 people in an auditorium that held the province basketball championships. Unlike the general spectators of the city of Xinyu, the audience of 2,000 in Beijing were from the University which was the only Physical Education University in China and the home of all the People's Republic Olympic teams. With such varied audience involvement in the martial arts, it was surprising to note the equal level of enthusiasm demonstrated by both crowds. Miss Anne Petkovsek (team member) commented that the applause at times was non-stop from one performer to the next. Grand Master Crandall said the people were great; they opened their hearts to us and made us feel right at home. Because we are a young country compared to China in the area of the martial arts, it was truly exciting to see such acceptance for what we do in the martial arts which is quite different from the Chinese Wushu. The many meetings with martial arts heads and with governmental heads, by means of interpreters, game the team and the Chinese leaders a chance to communicate about their individual philosophies of martial arts and their feelings towards many daily topics.

The American Martial Arts Team had a daily itinerary that was non-stop from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. in each area of China they visited. Transportation and the aid of a 24-hour interpreter made it possible for the American team to not only see much of China but also to understand what they saw. They saw huge lakes designed as fish farms plus the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace with its Dragon Island and much much more. This sight seeing tours in between practices and performances resulted in the team shooting 87 rolls of film and footage for four super VHS tapes; truly a lot of "Kodak moments". Mrs. Jill Crandall (team member) commented that the food was unique and delicious, that there was always more than one could eat and the Chinese certainly knew how to make a meal visually appealing.

Each member of the team believes he/she has grown from this experience and hopes that through talks with groups and friends each will have a chance to share what was learned. As a result New York State Assembly Member David Townsend Jr. sent a personal letter of congratulations to Grand Master Crandall and the team and presented the team with the official copy of the New York State Legislative Resolution adopted in assembly on January 25, 1995. This Legislative Resolution commends the efforts of the China*America Martial Arts Team in promoting international cultural exchange and congratulates the team upon the occasion of their performance in China. The team in conclusion sent letters and reports of the trip to the many Senators, Congressmen and sponsors who helped make this tour possible. A special thanks went out to President Clinton for his letter of support which was read before each performance and Vice President Gore's for his support.

Information About: The China*America International Martial Arts Team's performances:

The team consists of nine team members. Grand Master Crandall as coach and participant, plus 4 women and 4 men who are highly trained martial artists, but none of whom do the martial arts for a profession, except Grand Master Crandall.

The performances included:

  • Empty hand techniques with feet and hands.

  • Weapons demonstrations such as the Naginata, Sword, Tonfas, Kamas, Kendo exhibition, Bo, Escrima sticks, Police PR#24, and the use of the normal walking cane as a defensive weapon.