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Blacks and Latinos in Asian Martial Arts

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Panel discussion with martial arts masters Stephan Berwick, Jose Figueroa, Derrick Williams, and Pedro Cepero Yee

In this 90-minute panel discussion, co-presented with the Museum of African Art as part of its Beyond Bandung: Legacies of African and Asian Cultural Unity forum, four martial arts masters of African descent discuss their connection to and affinity for Asian martial arts. Each of them was drawn from their respective Black and Latino communities in the United States to move to Asia for advanced training. They will talk about the cultural affinity and cultural disconnect of that experience. Finally the panellists will explain the sociocultural reasons for the profound and enduring embrace of Asian martial arts by Blacks and Latinos in the United States. The discussion is preceded by a screening of The Karate Kid (2010).

Panelists

Stephan Berwick, an early proponent of mainland Chinese martial arts, was trained by top Chen family masters in the United States and at Taiji’s birthplace, Chenjiagou. He was one of the first two Americans, with action-film star Donnie Yen, trained at the Sha’anxi Athletic Technical Institute in China. Berwick went on to become one of the first Western martial arts performers in Hong Kong action films under acclaimed film director and fight choreographer, Yuen Wo Ping. Berwick has authored dozens of authoritative articles on all aspects of martial arts and is the co-author of Taijiquan: 38 Form & Applications, Practical Tai Chi, Tai Chi for Kids, 和 Taijiquan Hand & Sword.

Jose Figueroa achieved success as an internal Chinese martial arts competitor, author, and teacher of Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan. Figueroa is also a filmmaker and fight choreographer, best know for his pioneering work with jazz playwright, Fred Ho. In addition, he is the co-founder of the legendary Rock Steady Crew, world renown break dancers.

Derrick Williams studied Shotokan Karate in the Bronx and in Japan. He is a karate master widely recognized as a top champion competitor and performer in the United States.

Pedro Cepero Yee, born in Puerto Rico and raised in the United States, is a master of Hung Gar (Tiger Style) Kung Fu master. He has a direct lineage to the legendary kung fu master, Wong Fei Hong through Grand Master Frank Yee (Cepero’s adopted father)

Moderator:

Warrington Hudlin is a trustee of Museum of the Moving Image where he is the curator of the Fist and Sword martial arts film series. His 45 years of martial arts training includes the martial arts of Japan, China, and Brazil.

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