(Investigator 56, 1997 September)

Donna A_____ packs a wallop and had scabbed knuckles as proof.

She was serving chicken loaf in the supermarket as she explained how it happened. "A girl harrassed my friends at school," said Donna. "So I went over and punched her."

"But she had braces on her teeth. It really hurt!"


The 18-year-old part-timer in the Foodland service deli had learned self defense and confidence from Kung Fu.

Kung Fu is Chinese martial arts and became popular in Western countries following a rash of "chop-socky" movies from Hong Kong.

Donna described her training: "We have practice fights.

"We also train with bamboo sticks and wooden knives. Some bring their own weapons like tomahawks and nunchucks they're the two pieces of wood joined by a chain."

Donna doesn't break bricks by chopping with her hands or shove her fingers into gravel: "That's done in Karate; we don't do that."

However, familiar exercises such as pushups, sit-ups, jogging, weightlifting and "loosening-up" are included.

Donna and fellow employee Craig B_____ train twice weekly. "I've been interested in martial arts most of my life," said Donna. "Last year I began to train regularly."

Craig was introduced to Kung Fu 2 1/2 years ago by a cousin who teaches martial arts.

The belt color of the "gi" the black, loose-fitting outfit worn during practice corresponds to skill levels. The belt colours, said Craig, are white for beginners, then yellow, orange, green, blue, red and black.

Kung Fu is of benefit, said Donna, because it improves fitness, teaches self-defense and self discipline, builds confidence and is fun.

No customers were waiting, so Donna wrote out a list of "techniques", these being: Self Defense techniques; Ground holds; Break falls and Mat work; Traditional Punches to the head, sternum and groin; Throws; Neck locks; Sticks; Counter attacks; Breathing; Sparring = fighting one on one; Shadow sparring = by oneself.

She said: "There are hundreds of different kicks and punches with feet, hands and elbows for all sorts of situations. The vulnerable points are the same as in Karate such as the kidneys, the groin, the sternum."

Donna likes Kung Fu movies: "The fight scenes are realistic. It's much like what we do except it's speeded up."

Witchcraft and leviation scenes, however, are "not real". "That's Chinese myth," said Donna.

Also unreal is catching speeding arrows and jumping up backwards into trees: "I can't see that really happening."

Some people learn Kung Fu solely for self defense but to others it's spiritual as well. "I meditate at home before or after training," said Donna. "I turn on the music and lie on my bed and imagine the forest.

"Not everyone meditates; it depends how serious they are. I'm really serious
to me it's a religion. Meditation is relaxing. It puts an end to tension and worry."

Donna said training can start at the age of five and is available to anyone: "There is no discrimination. Kung Fu can also benefit the handicapped except they do exercises suitable for them."