2013 was another great year for the Zhong Yi Kung Fu Association. We started it strong and ended it even stronger.

Right away we rang in the New Year with a midnight party followed by an awesome sleepover (not many slept though), the year was off to a good start. We also brought back the ZYKFA Movie Nights. We had viewings of Shaw Brothers classics and brand new releases. Some of the most memorable films were:

• Din Tao: Leader of the Parade

• Monga

• Come Drink With Me

• Detective Dee

• Drunken Master 2

• Chinese Ghost Story

• Mr. Vampire

We got ready for Chinese New Year, which was on February 10th, by getting our equipment in order. Repaired and re-painted some lion heads and the Daai Tau Fat (Big Head Buddha) heads as well. We finished some collar badges so all lions had the school’s name on them. Lion Dance practices (Saturdays 2-3 pm) were in full swing with sometimes over 20 people in the classes.

On to the Chinese New Year, it started with a bang and only got louder. First we did the Overture Center’s International Festival where we presented not only a lion dance with 7 lions but we also performed an awesome demo in the theater as well. Then on to UW-Platteville’s Confucius Institute New Year Party for a great set of performances where we presented (and solved) a “puzzle” lion dance to the audience, kung fu demos and a big closing lion dance as well. The following week we did our rounds of lion dances to the restaurants and local businesses such as, Hong Kong Café, Lee’s Garden, Imperial Gardens, Happy Wok and Asian Midway Market. Some of the neat additions this CNY season were our first official school banner, made with a beautiful custom couplet composed by Yun-ling, we acquired a new youth lion, which we named Zhuge Liang at the Eye Dotting Ceremony and a set of electronic firecrackers which we could set off with a remote control.

We also had the honor and privilege to perform a traditional house blessing for the Blake’s new home and the annual MFCC Chinese New Year Party where we presented a big group lion dance as well as a kung fu demo. We were honored to be invited to perform a lion dance and kung fu demo (flash mob style) at Purdue University (Indiana) for the Chinese Student Association as well, a memorable trip which we took by bus (5 hours each way). We also performed at Shorewood Elementary for all the kids to learn about Chinese traditional customs and culture.

As spring began we had the first of our quarterly tests, all of which this year were successful, and we also hosted a 3 day Spring Break Youth Program which was a lot of fun with projects, lion dancing and field trips. We performed a lion dance at the UW-Parkside’s Award for Excellence Banquet. Attended and competed very successfully at the Sothern Wisconsin Open Martial Arts Tournament in Verona, WI. Performed a lion dance at Gary and Molly’s wedding right here in town. We received a donation of another beautiful youth lion, green and gold nicknamed “Kermit”, this time donated by Sue and Hope Marshall. And we also received, from Giulia Ferreira, the additional matching flags to complete our beautiful banner set.

As summer began we were in full swing! We had our first week of the annual Youth Summer Program, where we covered lion dance basics, had the Eye Dotting Ceremony for the Guan Yu lion (black and red w/ red shaggy fur) which was sponsored by our longtime supporters Hong Kong Café and this lion had its eyes dotted by none other than the Mayor of Madison himself, Mr. Paul Soglin! We lion danced and demoed our kung fu skills in the streets at the City of Crystal Lake (Illinois) 4th of July Parade along with our friends from Action Kung Fu and their leader Shifu Richard Gamboa, then went over to his home for a wonderful poolside BBQ.

In July we also had the opportunity to attend, and once again successfully compete, at the 25th International Kuoshu Championship Tournament held in Hunt Valley, MD. The tournament was a lot of fun and a great experience for all, especially the after party. We also had the return of a big team to the event, we took 11 competitors and when you add in the parents and friends that came along we had a solid 20 people total. It’s been a while but we are finally getting back up at this prestigious tournament. August was the busiest month of the year for us, we began four weeks of the Youth Summer Program, with the weeks covering topics such as “Lion Dance”, “Myths, Legends & Lore” and “Culture Sights & Sounds”, we had wonderful Chinese foods and the last day we even enjoyed a traditional Dim Sum lunch catered to us by Happy Wok - East, thank you George!. We were also scouted to be a location for filming a movie called “Bingo Night” (coming out in 2014) where many of the students were used as extras and one of the students (Kate) was even filmed doing one of the traditional Northern Shaolin sets (Kai Men) and they might use it in the movie!

As if this wasn’t enough we were invited to perform at the Healthy Living International Festival & Trade Fair in Neenah, WI in August. They wanted us to do a big show showcasing Chinese martial and cultural arts, this marked the beginning of our training in Song Jiang Battle Array (a 30 plus performer endeavor), Qilin Dance (different and more demanding than lion dance) and the return of the Drum Array, training intensified for lion dance as well as the new disciplines and we got our new glow-in-the-dark performance team t-shits to complete a sharp looking team. We performed the Eye Dotting Ceremony for the Qilin, with 10 lions present, performed the Battle Array with 34 people, a five drum and 2 cymbals Drum Array performance and closed it all with a magnificent lion dance. The performances lasted all day, but this trip was unforgettable with a packed bus full of friends (47 passengers) and we even had the pleasure of having Stella Leung come along to witness it all.

This August also had us return to Bayview’s Triangle Ethnic Festival here in Madison, it was a great day and the audience loved the show, we even made it on the news (WISC – ch 3). We also made a wonderful trip to visit Chicago’s Chinatown, again a packed bus but this time it was a 56 passenger motor coach, tons of cool stuff was bought and great food was had.

As September began we started out wishing Jaia a great trip and good time to be had in her year abroad in Brazil (see you in June… I think) and also Emma that went off to college, these two “kids” (and their parents) were a big part of our school over the years, we hope all goes well and that we will see them soon. On festive notes we did a traditional martial lion dance for the grand opening of the Iron Pagoda Gym, where Shifu David Welther teaches, where ZYKFA Instructor Wesley split a watermelon open with his iron palm skill. We stayed around and enjoyed demos as well as participated in them. We also had another addition to our lion pride, this time being donated by the Fernandez family, a beautiful FuHok Blue Lion, called "Papa Smurf". Thankfully the rest of September was calm and we were able to re-gather our energies, but not without mentioning that we were part of the Willy Street Fair and the experience was AWESOME! Thank you Paul Jasenki! This all not to mention a couple of local tournaments in Lodi and Verona where the team had stellar performances.

October marks our anniversary month and this year we completed 18 years! Before celebrating the anniversary we had another lion dance to do, this time Promega Corporation was doing the Grand Opening of their awesome state-of-the-art building facility. The performance was very well received and we had another great time. The rest of October had another Lion Dance for the Grand Opening of Gillian Blake’s new business “Why Knot?” while I was away, Shimu took care of it all along with Ben and I’ve only heard great things about how it all went.

The rest of the month of October I was in Brazil teaching seminars at Shifu Gabriel’s wonderful TSKF schools in both Sao Paulo, SP and Belo Horizonte, MG. The seminars were all sold out, with almost 300 total attendees, the topics covered were “Lion Dance: Customs, Etiquette and Culture”, “Kung Fu Etiquette and Customs” and two forms taught “Chuan Xin” and “Duan Da”. Not only was I able to work with wonderful people I was also able to spend time with good friends such as Shifu Gabriel and Shimu Ana (in their wonderful home), as well as Instructor Danillo, Crissy and Joao Lourenco among many, many others. I truly feel blessed to know these people and be able to work with them. While there I was also able to visit Shifu Edilson, Shifu Otavio and Shifu Renato and their respective schools, while having a great time with their students (especially Lucas, Jean and Kelly).

Coming back from Brazil in November I spent only one day in Madison and then went on to Seattle, WA to meet with Rachel D., Nate and Ben so we can attend the 1st Sar Ping Lion Dance Seminar in the US, held at the Co Lam Pagoda with the great host Cash Vo. This was an experience of a lifetime for us as we were able to learn this wonderful and complex style of lion dance directly from Great Grandmaster Chan Siew Kee and his disciple Master Albert Fong Kong Yip. We made many friends, including Nick Lee, Sam Mah and Mark Vuong as well as getting invited to go to Singapore and Malaysia to train directly with these great masters. From this weekend forward the ZYKFA is now following the Sar Ping style of lion dance and we look forward to learn more and grow within this wonderful art.

While we were out in Seattle Shimu and Charles got to organize and get the performances done for the Lor Clan Hmong New Year in Sun Prairie. Once again, I’ve only heard great things about the event and we are honored to have been invited to perform not just the lion dance but also a kung fu demo. A couple of weeks later we were honored with a visit from Shifu Gabriel and his Instructor Garcia as well as another development, we were invited to perform at the Grand Opening of the Confucius Institute’s Han Ban Classroom at St. Mary’s High School in Neenah, WI, where we did not did an awesome lion dance but we also did an Eye Dotting Ceremony for ANOTHER Qilin, this second one being donated by TCCES. Two Qilins in one year, both born in Neenah, the only two in Wisconsin and they’re with us at ZYKFA!

As December rolled in, things once again calmed down a bit, it allowed us for some reflection over the year and to think about all that we accomplished, but there was one more surprise before the end of the year… we are getting a Adult Size Dragon in a couple of weeks.

Looking forward to 2014!

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