Terri Morgan brings home Wudang Dragon Sword secrets.

Cutting Edge 

Terri Morgan brings home Wudang Dragon Sword secrets.

When Terri Morgan posted fliers advertising a Wudang Dragon Sword workshop with Master Yuzeng Liu of China, she got a few different responses. Some people expressed genuine interest. Some knew martial arts and recognized a rare opportunity when they saw it. Then there were the people who had seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

"Part of my motivation for organizing this workshop was to distinguish between the reality of Wudang and what's in the movie," Morgan explains. "People want to know if we can teach them to fly, and I'm like, 'Yeah, get a cable and get someone else on the other end of it.'"

Morgan and Liu met in 1990 in what they consider to be a stroke of yuan fen, or fate. Morgan had taken a few Chinese language courses and landed a job teaching English in China -- she knew that to be proficient, she'd need to be forced to speak Chinese all the time. She'd also taken an interest in T'ai Chi and hoped to continue her martial arts study abroad. At the last minute, however, the plans she'd made to study with another master fell through. One cold morning, she and a friend were in a park where various groups were practicing martial arts together. Master Liu approached her and asked her to join his classes, and she did.

Liu is no small name in China, where he teaches martial arts at the National Police Academy. Since 1995, Liu has made yearly voyages to the United States to lead workshops accompanied by Morgan, who serves as his interpreter and teaching assistant.

In Wudang, swords are said to take on the nature of the dragon, a mythical creature that plays in the clouds and moves in flashes like lightning. Liu says the dragon "is very supple. It goes and comes back. When you're practicing the movements of Wudang, the sword should move like the dragon playing in the heavens."

It may seem impractical to base a method of self-defense on the presumption that a sword will be handy at the moment of attack. But, Morgan emphasizes, "anything you might put in your hand can have the same move."

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