First-Ever Martial Arts Promotion Test at Miami Advances 45 Students

Miami students who participated in the martial arts promotion test
Miami students who participated in the martial arts promotion test

Panel of martial arts judgesOn Wednesday April 26, Miami students dressed in flowing white outfits shared celebratory hugs, high fives, and pictures after an exciting culmination of their tai chi and self-defense classes. Thanks to an exciting opportunity provided by CIMU, students performed their martial arts routines and self-defense moves in front of a panel of three kung fu master judges and a Miami judge in order to pass a Duanwei test (an official evaluation of martial arts ranks).

One of these judges was Christina Ohlinger, the Physical Activity Life Skills Coordinator. One of the other three martial arts judges was Enjie Li, the class instructor. Chaofei Wang and Xintuo Zhang, the two guest martial arts judges, flew in for the event from the Confucius Institute at Arizona University (CIAU). All three have achieved Duanwei level 6 and judge level 1, and they are considered top tier martial arts masters in China.

Taiji group practicing with instructorStudents warmed up for five minutes, then performed in pairs for the judges. The panel carefully analyzed their movements and took notes as they performed. After all of the students had performed, the judges congratulated the class. Everyone passed!

The first test was followed by a short intermission with snacks and drinks. Students chatted happily and snapped selfies with their awards until the next test began at 1:00pm. This time, students from Enjie’s tai chi class performed in groups of four. The students were well prepared and executed their movements with grace. Once again, the entire class passed!

Self defense pair competing in front of judgesConfucius Institute (CI) director Chen Zhao, MU’s Kinesiology Department Chair Helaine Alessio, and director of MU Intramural Sports Ruchelle Dunwoody presented each student with a certificate to honor their accomplishments in self-defense and tai chi. The martial arts judges provided the students with the certificate from the Chinese Martial Arts Association which is recognized by the American Martial Arts Association and World Martial Arts Association, as well as a pin for Duanwei level 1.

“I am very proud of my students,” CIMU instructor Enjie Li said afterwards. The Duanwei promotion was no mere participation award, but a true test of their learned skills and performance.

Students posing with their instructors and their certificatesThe students were equally pleased. In a short interview after the promotion test, three Miami University seniors described their experiences in the self-defense class: “It was definitely different from any other class we’ve had at Miami,” said one young woman. “It was a really cool experience,” another said. “These are physical skills that we can use in the real world.”

Department Chair Helaine Alessio noted a shift in the students’ confidence when the class had ended, and commented that “Enjie prepared the students for a special series of moves… the preparation for the moves that the students practiced over the semester, I saw, gave them confidence and competence… and it brought joy to them. In the end, they learned a little bit more about the martial arts culture. The Duanwei promotion was a value added to the class.”