Teaching Wushu in Asia as a Foreigner: Interview with Angelica Cukon

Most Wushu lovers are daydreaming about going to Asia to train, at least for a few weeks, because the environment, the facilities, and of course, the high level athletes and coaches are almost all there. Sure there are amazing instructors all over the world, but they are only a few, and suffer themselves too, of limited time and access to good facilities to teach their students, especially in the West.

Only a few people know that there are also foreigners teaching Wushu in Asia and that they actually succeed in it!

In this Wukong Wushu Interview series, we wanted to give all these particular instructors – most often with incredible life stories – the floor to help us understand how they became trainers in the very country they would go before as an athlete.

Wukong: Hi Angelica! Many people know you either for your achievements as a former athlete from the Italy Wushu Team, or because you manage the Longhui International Wushu Academy with world champion Zhaojie.
For those who don’t know you, can you please introduce yourself, and your biggest Wushu milestones?

Angelica: First of all, I wanna thank You for this interview!

My name is Angelica Cukon, I’m from Italy and I started my practice when I was about 8. I won 3 European titles (2000-2002-2004) and my best result in World championships was a 4th place in Macao (2003).

I trained a lot of times in China, most of times in Chengdu. In 2008-2009 I worked in Changzhou City (Jiangsu Province) so I trained with the Changzhou Wushu Team too.

Then in 2011, I won China Radio International’s 中国武术之旅 contest, and the last day of the travel we had a show with Taiji master from Wenxian, Baji master from Cangzhou etc in front of Wu Bin, Luc Benza and many other famous wushu teachers.

In 2016, I opened the “Long Hui International Wushu Academy” in cooperation with China and World champion Zhao Jie, and I usually go there teaching during spring and summer as I’m also teaching wushu at the Chinese School in Bergamo, my hometown, as well as at the “Long Hui Wushu Bergamo Sport Association”.
In Italy, most of my students are Chinese kids, but when I’m going to “Long Hui China” I’m teaching adults as well.

我的名字是 Cukon Angelica (中文名:方爱玲),我来自意大利,8 岁开始习武。 我获得了 3 次欧洲冠军(2000-2002-2004),我在世界锦标赛上的最好成绩是在澳门获得第四名(2003)。
我之前也去中国训练了很多遍,大部分时间在成都体院,但2008-2009年我在常州市(江苏省) 工作,所以我更着常州武术队训练。

2011年,我获得了中国国际广播电台“中华武术之旅”活动的冠军,所以跟他们团队一起走到武术 之乡而且最后一天,在吴斌、吕克本扎等名师面前,跟温县太极拳大师、沧州八极拳大师等一起表演.

2016年我跟赵杰合开的“龙汇国际培训基地”,所以我通常是春夏两季去那里教课,平时我也在贝 加莫(我老家)华人中文学校和“龙汇“武术俱乐部教武术。 我可以说我的大部分学生都是华人小孩,但是当我去中国“龙汇”的时候,我也有教成年人。

Wukong: Why did you go to China at first?

Angelica: Well, I have a degree in Chinese Language and East Asian Culture (Ca’Foscari – Venice University) so I had something inside my heart that pushed me towards China.

我是Ca’Foscari – 威尼斯大学中文系(中文和东亚文化专业)毕业的,所以我内心深处有一些东西将我推向了中国。

Wukong: How was your first Wushu experience there? How was it perceived by the Chinese crowd and what did you feel was different from teaching in Italy?

Angelica: Zhao Jie and I know each other since 2005, so, after he introduced me, it wasn’t difficult to gain the students’ trust … Students also witnessed how the Nanquan team improved, and some of the Changquan students even decided to change their major from Changquan to Nanquan. That was funny!

In Italy I’m also working with Chinese people (adults and kids) every day, both during my wushu classes and my job as a cultural mediator/interpreter. So without the “linguistic gap” in more easy to communicate and empathize with students.

What seemed strange to me was being on the other side of the carpet, since up until then I had always been to China to learn, not to teach…

For the rest, I didn’t find so much difference. Since I have been teaching wushu at a Chinese School to Chinese children, I was already used to use Chinese language during my classes.

Perhaps the most different thing is the differences in training length, as even the amateur classes are much more intense in China compared to Italy. But during my training, I also like to have fun, cause I think “training hard, having fun” is more pleasant than only “training hard”… and this is also greatly appreciated by the students.

我和赵杰2005年就认识了,所以得到中国学生的信任并不难……也许是我觉得很奇怪,因为去那 之前我一直从另一个方向看,就是说我经常去中国学习,而不是教…… 其余的,没觉得有太大的不同,因为在贝加莫的华人中文学校教武术,给中国孩子教,大部分时间我也在用中文教课。有可能不同的地方在于训练时间,因为中国的业余班比意大利的激烈得多。

Wukong: How did you decide to start teaching there, knowing that you are a foreigner, in a country that supposedly already has high level wushu teachers? What pushed you to do it?

Angelica: It was mostly Zhao Jie who pushed me to do it, as well as my Changzhou Wushu Teacher, Tong Hui, who told me to believe more in myself because my Ji Ben Gong were very good, or even better than some of her classmates when she studied at the Shanghai Sport University.

Now, both our training centers in China and Italy are opened to everyone, meaning that means Chinese nationals and wushu amateur, are all welcome even to start from zero.

最多的是因为赵杰,还有我在常州的武术老师,童慧!她告诉我要多相信自己,因为我的基本功非常好,甚至比她在上海体育学院上学时的一些同学还要好。 现在,我们中国和意大利的培训中心对所有人开放,也对从零开始习武的武术爱好者开放。

Wukong: How do you see your future as a coach there?

Angelica: Due to the pandemic, I am still in Italy and continue teaching Chinese and non-Chinese children to adults. I can only hope that this situation ends soon, to be able to start traveling again and consolidate the bridge that already exists between Long Hui – China, and Long Hui – Italy.

As discussed during your video interview with Zhao Jie (click here to watch it on Youtube), we wish to set up a yearly international seminar with Zhao Jie, helping European wushu lovers improve. It is still in our heart and in our mind!

目前因为疫我在意大利,继续教武术给华人与非华人的儿童、年轻人和成人。 现在我只能希望这种情况早日结束,能够重新开始旅行,“放大”已经存在的“龙汇-中国”和“龙汇-意大利”之间的交流“桥梁”。根据我们去年的采访中所说的,我们的目标是每年安排一种国际培训,帮助欧洲武术爱好者提高自己的武术水平!

Wukong: Most people wouldn’t believe that foreigners can actually teach Wushu is a country where the level is already higher than most places in the world. What are the biggest misconceptions you believe foreigners have about the Wushu level in the country you teach in? What more would you tell them to help demystifying their presumptions?

Angelica: Well, for example … in Italy football/soccer is very famous but not everyone is good at it. I believe that if a former athlete of the Chinese national football team came to Italy to teach beginners (and not only!), he would be a good teacher.

In Italy I have a Chinese friend who is the president of a football team and brought it to “D series” from nothing. For wushu it would be the same… You just have to believe in yourself, in your dream and never give up, so the ordinary becomes extraordinary and dream becomes reality.

在意大利足球非常有名,但不是每个人都踢得很厉害…… 我相信,如果有原中国国家足球队的运动员来到意大利给初学者培训(不仅如此!),肯定会当一位好老师。我在意大利认识一个中国朋友,他是一位足球俱乐部的领导,白手起家把他的足球队带到了“D级”了。


Wukong: Any other words you would like to share with the Wukong Wushu audience?

Angelica: We previously talked about what I did and what I do. But I am not the only one in this position.
Unfortunately, Wushu remains for both western athletes and many coaches, only a passion and cannot be a full time job.

I hope that things can change in many European/Western countries and can allow wushu athletes to get a more professional status, avoiding getting lost along the way like many talents who deserve help to improve… And this should be applied not only to athletes but also to “future professional coaches” … creating a whole more professional next Wushu generation.

I think this is the only way Wushu can get bigger and even more famous.

之前我们谈到了我之前做了什么,我现在做什么等, 我提出的,不单单关于我自己,而是许多教练员所做的事情。

我希望以后的欧洲/西方国家的情况会改变,让武术运动员变成专业运动员,避免“迷路”许多值得帮助提升的武术人才……因为现在的运动也就是“未来的职业教练员”…… 这也代表“下一代更专业的武术人”。唯有如此,武术才会越做越大,名扬天下。

Discover more about the Longhui International Wushu Academy, or contact Angelica directly through below links:

Interview made by Ghyslain Kuehn